Ford Focus RS hatchback (2016-2018)
"The Ford Focus RS delivers explosive pace, engaging handling and excellent value for money"
- Exhilarating performance
- Value for money
- Fun to drive
- Small boot
- Poor ride comfort
- Gimmicky 'Drift' mode
The Ford Focus RS is the fastest and most extreme version of Ford’s ubiquitous family hatchback. A 345bhp 2.3-litre EcoBoost petrol engine ensures the RS has more than enough power to keep up with the Mercedes A45 AMG, Honda Civic Type R, Audi RS3, Volkswagen Golf R and BMW M2.
The RS is a striking car to look at thanks to its aggressive styling and a rally car-style bodykit. Some people will prefer the slightly subtler and more reserved styling of rivals such as the Audi RS3, but there’s no doubt the RS has serious road presence, not to mention the fact that many of the styling features improve the RS’s aerodynamics and cooling. Choose the latest Focus RS Edition and the looks are subtly tweaked with a black roof, door mirrors and boot spoiler.
A 0-62mph time of 4.7 seconds is one performance metric for the RS, but it’s really the car’s less quantifiable cornering ability that makes the biggest mark on a driver. The RS is equipped with a four-wheel drive system that can assign up to 70% of power from the engine to the rear wheels, meaning the RS feels more playful and adjustable than many high-performance four-wheel drive cars. Its agility is even more marked in the Edition version, thanks to a Quaife mechanical limited-slip differential to boost traction at the front axle.
Whatever you think of the way the car looks, it’s hard to argue that the RS isn’t an accomplished performance car, and that’s ultimately what will matter most to the majority of customers. If you want even more power from the RS engine, you can buy a performance pack from Mountune that boosts power to 370bhp. The car is more than capable of handling the extra shove and the kit doesn’t invalidate your warranty.
The Focus RS officially returns 36.7mpg, which is average for the class. The car isn’t typical when it comes to purchase price, however, undercutting most of its rivals while still featuring plenty of standard equipment. While the price may be below average, unfortunately so is boot space; at 260 litres, most of its rivals are superior in this regard.
Overall, the Ford Focus RS is a very impressive addition to the hot-hatchback class. It manages to deliver sheer pace with engaging handling in a practical hatchback package. The RS seems even more appealing when you consider the car’s price, which makes it excellent value.
If you’re already planning on adding a few options, the Edition version makes sense, too, because for a similar price to the desirable Recaro shell seats, black forged wheels and blue brake callipers, you also get unique wheel centre caps, blue leather details for the seats and the aforementioned black contrasting exterior finish and Quaife limited-slip differential.
The standard Ford Focus finished 51st out of the 75 cars ranked in our 2017 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey of cars currently on sale in the UK.