Ford Focus RS (2016 – 2018) Review
Ford Focus RS (2016 – 2018) At A Glance
Ford knew it would only sell a handful of the 2016 Focus RS, yet as a halo model and treat for enthusiasts it was unsurpassed. The moment the car was rumoured, deposits flowed in from eager buyers and that means used values have remained as strong as for any other eminently desirable fast Ford. IT’s easy to see why when Ford threw everything at this car: four-wheel drive, clever rear differential, and 350PS from a turbocharged 2.3-litre engine. It resulted in 0-62mph in a mere 4.7 seconds and 165mph top speed. Little wonder it’s reckoned to be a modern classic.
Like the Escort Mexico and Sierra Cosworth, the Focus RS follows in the best of Ford's performance history. It’s fantastic fun, offers serious performance and yet it’s affordable next to competitors. The only thing that lets it down a little is the fairly conservative interior.
Power – all 350PS of it - comes from a 2.3-litre four-cylinder EcoBoost petrol engine with peak torque of 440Nm. This is overboosted to 470Nm for up to 20 seconds, with a very short cooldown period - so in reality the higher figure is what you’ll typically get under full throttle. Acceleration is accompanied by a great, characterful exhaust note, particularly in Sport mode.
Unlike previous incarnations of the Focus RS the latest model has no trouble transferring all of its power to the road, since it has all-wheel drive. Ford, though, has cleverly calibrated the onboard computer and mechanicals to prioritise pure fun over supremely fast lap times, unlike Audi with the RS3 or Mercedes-Benz with the A45 AMG.
The result is a car with huge, confidence-inspiring levels of traction, helped by a very well-judged suspension set up that keeps body roll at bay without being too harsh, even on uneven, broken British roads. Adaptive dampers are fitted as standard, but they only firm up in ‘Track’ mode which, along with Drift mode, is genuinely meant for track driving only.
A six-speed manual transmission is fitted as standard, instead of the paddle-shift automatics common on other all-wheel drive super hatches. The brakes are hugely powerful Brembos that can shave off speed as alarmingly quickly as the engine can build it up. It’s a real, bona fide performance car, yet it’s easy to drive in town and it’s reasonably practical.
Inside, the Focus RS feels a little subdued in comparison to the likes of the vibrantly upholstered Civic Type R. It has supportive buckets seats and a pod of extra gauges, but is otherwise as staid and reserved as a normal Focus. That’s partly down to the cost-saving production process – the RS is produced on the same line as other Focus variants.
The Focus RS costs about the same as an Audi or Mercedes-Benz but less-powerful, front-wheel drive Civic Type R – also hugely impressive. But really, the Focus RS is the more capable, well-rounded car. In fact, we think it’s the best hot hatch you can buy.