Ford Focus RS (2016 – 2018) Review

Ford Focus RS (2016 – 2018) At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
The Ford Focus RS isn’t just a triumph of a hot hatch in comparison to its rivals – it’s also likely to go down in history as an all-time great.

+Supercar performance for £30k, outstanding four-wheel drive with huge levels of grip, lots of everyday usability.

-Bland and uninspiring interior, hard ride will be too much for some, boot space has been cut to accommodate four-wheel drive.

Insurance Groups are between 12–41
On average it achieves 68% of the official MPG figure

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. 

Ask Honest John

What will be the next classic cars?
"What will be the next classic cars?"
If it were that easy I'd be picking my lottery numbers! High-end stuff is always a good bet - Ferrari, Aston Martin etc. Fast Fords never seem to go out of fashion - we reckon the current Focus RS will rapidly move towards modern classic status. Hot hatches always seem to have a good following, too. But don't forget the quirky stuff - Renault Avantime have a strong following.
Answered by Keith Moody
Should I remove the Mountune upgrage on my Ford Focus RS to achieve best residual value?
"I'm about to take delivery of a brand new Ford Focus RS with the warranty approved Mountune upgrade. When I come to eventually sell, it do I need to remove the kit to achieve be the best residual value? In which case, should I ask the garage to keep the parts they have taken off to install the Mountune kit?"
I don't predict residuals anyway, much less for a high performance car with enhanced performance.
Answered by Honest John
Best sports car for 80 year old driver?
"I recently bought my 80 year old petrolhead father a Ford Focus RS. In fact my idea was to let him drive it for a few weeks, that was on 3 September and I've not had it back since! He is now emailing with tales of his test drive of a BMW 140i and is making noises about how much more of a GT it is compared with the out and out sports car that is the RS. I am happy to change the focus for the M140i, but is this a good idea? The stability of the Focus is a good thing, but the manual 'box may be less comfortable for him to use moving forward. Would welcome your input?"
The 140i replaces the 335i and is half a step down from an M2. More rear-endy than an M2 because, despite the tyre burning pictures, the M2 is extremely well stuck at the back. That makes the 140i less safe than a Focus RS. But, having got hold of an RS you can probably show a £5k - £10k profit by selling it to someone who doesn't want to wait a year for one. M2 test here:
Answered by Honest John
More Questions

What does a Ford Focus RS (2016 – 2018) cost?