Ford Focus RS (2016-2018) Review
Fastest Focus impresses with incredible pace - but lacks interior sophistication
Strengths & weaknesses
- Relatively practical
- Value for money
- Expensive for a Ford Focus
- Hot-hatch image isn't for everyone
- Old interior and entertainment
The RS name has been hanging around on the bootlid of fast Ford models since the late Sixties. It’s created many legendary cars, and this Focus RS is well worthy of the moniker.
Headline figures of 350hp and a 4.7 second 0-62mph indicate the car is fast, but it’s the way that it flings you from a to b that is particularly noteworthy. It’s a devastatingly fast car, yet never scary.
Put your foot down and after the turbos spool up, it just pulls away in a clinical but furious way. When you’re pressing on you can hear the exhaust crackle and pop, which is fun. But maybe a bit immature.
Not that it stops its main rivals like the Audi RS3 and Mercedes A45 from doing it too. The Ford is just as fast as these two in the real-world of stop start traffic and tractors, but it’s significantly cheaper (£32,795 versus £44,190 and £41,830 respectively).
It has four driving modes, comfort, sport, track, and drift. Comfort is, well, just that. It’s the most comfortable setting, the quietest, with the softest and most compliant suspension. Sport mode adds some acoustics from the exhaust which are reminscent of a teenager after some baked beans. Both of these modes are suited to UK roads. It bounces along a road more than a regular Ford Focus, but it's not uncomfortable. Keep Track mode for the track. It makes the suspension so hard that it’s unbearable on UK roads, seemingly turning potholes into craters and crashing between them, jerking the steering wheel from side to side. Drift is a showpiece that’s not really designed for the road either. It makes everything able to go sideways a bit easier.
The six-speed gearbox is sweet and meaty, and makes you feel more in-tune to this performance car. A lack of automatic might put some off though. Super-hot-hatch rivals all have automatic gearboxes.
Away from the huge power gains, the RS has a bodykit which is as muscular and in your face as a particularly aggressive kangaroo stood on its hind legs. It’s wider, lower, and has a big wing on the back too.
The run-of-the-mill Ford Focus is front-wheel-drive, but the RS is four-wheel-drive. This is to aid safety, plus speed. However, it does eat into the boot size. The regular Focus has a boot of 316-litres, but the RS’ is even smaller at 260. In comparison, the Audi RS3’s is 380-litres.
And if we had to nit-pick, we’d say that the Recaro racing seats (which are massively supportive and comfortable) are bolted in too high.
The entertainment system, including the dashboard screen and interface, feels horribly outdated compared to the Mercedes A45 and Audi RS3 too.
|Warranty||3 years / 60,000 miles|
|Boot size||260/1,045 litres|
|Tax (min to max)||£830 in the first year, £140 thereafter|
Best Ford Focus RS for...
Best for Economy – Ford Focus RS
There’s only one engine available, with a combined mpg of 36.7. It has six gears though, enabling cruising at motorway speeds easily. It will be more like 23-24mpg on spirited drives. Even less on track.
Best for Performance – Ford Focus RS Heritage Edition
The Heritage model gets the nod because it has a Quaife mechanical limited slip differential. This helps the car send all of its power to the wheels more efficiently, and therefore making it quicker. It also comes with added power from a Mountune kit.
- 2015: New Focus RS revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
- Spring 2016: First models reach their new owners.
- August 2016: Manufacturer approved Mountune upgrade announced.
- September 2017: Edition model launched
- February 2018: 50 Heritage Edition models released to denote end of production.
Understanding Ford Focus RS names
Engine 2.3 Ecoboost
There’s only one engine available, a 2.3-litre petrol turbo. Ford refers to its turbo-equipped models as Ecoboost.
The Ford Focus RS comes in five flavours, regular (denoted by nothing after the name), Luxury Pack, RS Heritage, RS Red Heritage, and RS Edition.
Gearbox Six Speed
There is only one gearbox (in the UK) a six-speed manual.
Ford Focus RS Engines
There’s only one engine available, a turbocharged 2.3-litre petrol, but it does come with different power outputs.
In standard cars, it makes 350hp, and can do 165mph flat out. It also has a 0-62mph time of 4.7 seconds, which is hugely fast. But not as fast as rivals like the Audi RS3 - put that down to Audi’s lightning-fast automatic gearboxes.
However, the manual gearbox is what makes the Ford so desirable for enthusiasts. There aren’t many four-wheel-drive manual hot-hatches out there - especially one that has so much power right across the rev band.
This means that the Ford revs sweetly to its 6,400rpm redline, and sounds throaty and intimidating while doing so. The initial thump-in-the-back acceleration can be felt from as low down as 2,000rpm - although maximum thrills are at about 4,500rpm (when all of the engine’s torque is delivered).
Models registered after August 2016 were available with a dealer-fit Mountune upgrade kit, boosting power to 375hp too. This brings the 0-62mph time down to 4.5seconds.
Ford Focus RS Trims
Luxury Pack, RS Edition, Race Red RS Edition, Heritage Edition
As this is the most expensive Focus available, the standard equipment list runs pretty high. The trick dynamic modes which change the suspension settings between soft and stiff comes as standard, as does a launch control setting which helps the car take off in the quickest way possible. 19-inch alloys, 350mm Brembo brakes, and specially-made Michelin tyres are also included.
Headlights that follow the car round a corner, a quick-clear windscreen, automatic wipers, and heated washer jets also feature.
Inside there are some additional gauges which show turbocharger boost pressure, oil temperature and oil pressure, as well as a set of Recaro racing bucket seats.
The Luxury Pack brings folding door mirrors, parking sensors, cruise control, and tinted rear windows.
RS Edition models come with a Quaife limited-slip differential, Nitrous Blue paint, Recaro leather seats, and a matte black roof. Race Red RS Edition models are the same as the RS Edition models, except that they have red paint.
And the run-out model, the Heritage Edition, gets Deep Orange paint, the Quaife differential, plus the Mountune performance kit upping power to 375hp.
Ford Focus RS Reliability and warranty
The good news is that, despite this Ford being a performance-based model, underneath it’s pretty much a regular hatchback. This means that service intervals are once a year, or 12,500 miles.
And just like the standard Ford Focus, it gets a three-year or 60,000 mile warranty, which is pretty much on par with its rivals.
The regular Ford Focus gets a five-star safety rating too - and although the RS is much faster it does also have larger, more powerful brakes, and a four-wheel-drive system to improve grip.
However, the Ford Focus rates poorly for reliability in the 2017 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey.
Used Ford Focus RS
As the car’s been on sale for a couple of years now, used models are cropping up regularly. And there’s big savings to be made.
Standard new cars start at £32,795 for the most basic model, but two year old models with less than 20,000 miles will set you back around £25,000,
Don’t expect to find many of the limited run Heritage Edition cars. Fast Fords are very sought after among car collectors and limited-edition cars will be worth more in the future.
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