Ford Focus RS (2009-2010)
“The team that build Ford’s rally machines is responsible for creating the devilish Focus RS – which is a thrilling car to drive.”
- Sensational performance
- Comparatively inexpensive
- Practical interior
- Extrovert looks
- Speed bump scraping bodywork
- Poor fuel consumption
Looking like it’s escaped from a rally stage, this powerful hatchback wears the RS badge that Ford reserves for special performance models. Those rally-derived looks aren’t a coincidence, either, as the same team that builds Ford’s rally machines is responsible for creating the Focus RS. The flagship is not only fast against the clock, but is able to humble just about anything on the road at any performance level.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Naturally owning and running an RS is going to cost more than a conventional Focus, but the rewards are high enough to offset the additional expense. It’ll use consumables, like brake pads and tyres, with greater frequency - although that depends on how you drive it. It’s likely that if you’re even considering a Focus RS, then you’re the sort of driver who’ll want to enjoy all of its performance. Fuel consumption is officially quoted at 30.5mpg, but you can expect significantly less.
Engines, drive & performance
The Focus RS takes the standard Focus’s sharp handling and injects it with a massive kick of adrenaline. The turbocharged 2.5-litre engine is similar to that in the Focus ST hot hatchback, but the power output has been boosted to 301bhp and the suspension has been tuned with ultimate performance in mind. Grip is phenomenal and the way the turbocharged five-cylinder engine pulls and sounds will put a smile on your face. It’s a physical and enormously intense driving experience, which delivers staggering performance. Thankfully the chassis can handle the power, so the RS makes the most of its incredible pace, and delivers one of the most entertaining drives around.
Interior & comfort
For a car with such a focus on maximising performance, the Focus RS is remarkably comfortable. The deep-sided sports seats hold you firmly, although some drivers might find their position a touch too high. The suspension is firm, but drive the Focus RS on the UK’s terrible tarmac, and you’ll not find yourself bracing for potholes – it does a good job of soaking up bumps and lumps. The rear seats remain useable, but the high, hard-backed sports seats do limit forward vision and eat into rear legroom, with tall passengers likely to suffer sore knees from rubbing the seat backs.
Practicality & boot space
As the RS is based on the humble Focus hatchback, it comes with five seats and a usefully sized boot that can be made larger by folding the rear bench. The wider bodywork compared to the standard Focus makes parking a bit trickier, and that low front spoiler will scrape speed bumps, but for a model with Porsche-chasing ability, it’s a front-runner for practicality.
Reliability & safety
The Focus scores only averagely in the Driver Power survey, but with the range-topping Focus RS model essentially being hand-built, it should prove more reliable than its ordinary siblings. The technology on board is proven on the world’s toughest rally stages, too, so the Focus RS should be robust.
Price, value for money & options
The BMW-rivalling list price might seem preposterous, but the Focus RS is a very special car. Not only does the easy accessibility of its performance make rivals look expensive, but also the Focus RS is a genuine day-to-day proposition. You don’t have to buy something fast to keep in your garage to satisfy your performance car needs – the Focus RS does it all in one package, if you can convince your other half that it’s a practical, if rather crazy looking, family car. The original Focus RS MkI holds its value phenomenally well, so the second generation is likely to command high prices used. If you can bear to sell it, you should get much of your money back.