FORD FOCUS RS REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Three-door hot hatch
Price: $59,990 (plus on-road costs)
On test fuel efficiency: 12.3 l/100km
The Ford Focus RS manages to belt 400 thumping Newton-metres of torque through its front wheels. While most of its high-powered competitors use AWD to get this sort of power to the ground, the Focus relies on its brilliant ‘RevoKnuckle’ system.
The result is performance that is little short of breathtaking and it carries a premium price tag to match. Strange then that it has a less-than-premium interior.
The Focus RS is an unusual concoction, but is most definitely a potent one.
- Quality: The exterior may look wild and muscular, but the interior looks anything but.
For a $60k halo car, it is simply not up to scratch. The grey plastics are second-rate, the cupholders don't hold cups (or bottles, or cans), and the 'carbon-fibre' trim looks nothing but extremely fake.
- Comfort: This is better. Once you vault the enormous bolsters, the Recaro bucket seats are superbly comfortable. The seating position is high and not adjustable, but there's plenty of headroom. Rear headroom however is tight.
- Equipment: You get dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, xenon headlamps, rear parking sensors, an eight-speaker stereo with USB/Aux inputs, keyless entry and ignition, Bluetooth and 19-inch alloy wheels.
Cruise control and sat-nav however are absent.
- Storage: The Focus RS's boot space with 60/40 split fold rear seat and bag hooks is on par with regular 5-door Focus variants.
ON THE ROAD
- Driveability: There's some initial lag low in the rev range, but keep the revs above 2500rpm, and the RS’s turbo five-cylinder develops fearsome power and torque with a vicious growl to match.
The clutch pedal is surprisingly light, and can be difficult to modulate. The gear lever has a smooth, almost weightless throw, through the well-defined six-speed gate.
- Refinement: Our tester had a persistent squeak from the front passenger seat. Some trim rattles were also evident and the cabin is a noisy one thanks to the ever-present engine noise and low-profile tyres. (But forgiveable, given the sporting intent of the RS.)
- Suspension: Ford's Revoknuckle front suspension system deserves the many accolades that have been heaped upon it.
It reduces torque steer massively – very important given the 400Nm being channelled into the front wheels – and, in conjunction with the independent rear suspension, provides impressive stability and grip.
The electro-hydraulic steering is well weighted, and it takes a lot of effort to make the RS understeer. The stiff suspension has just enough compliance to make the Focus RS feel at home on a twisting backroad.
- Braking: The huge and effective brakes can take a lot of punishment before they fade.
- ANCAP rating: The Ford Focus RS has yet to be tested by ANCAP
- Safety features: Dual front and front side airbags, full-length curtain airbags, ABS, EBD, brake assist, traction control, stability control.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
- Warranty: Three years/100,000km.
- Service costs: Servicing intervals are set for every 15,000km or 12 months. Servicing costs vary, so contact your local Ford dealership before purchase.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
- Volkswagen Golf R 3-door ($48,490) - The refined three-door Golf R is considerably cheaper then the Focus RS and very quick. (see Golf R reviews)
- Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution ($61,390) - The Evolution's interior is plain, but at least offers cruise control and sat-nav. It's equally adept on a race track as it is on public roads. (see Evolution reviews)
- Subaru WRX STI ($59,990) - The WRX STI has a muscular powertrain and massive turbo lag but better finish inside. (see WRX STI reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
It's a wickedly fast thing, the Focus RS, but not without flaws. A cheap interior and second-rate refinement aren't consistent with the substantial price tag, and mar what is otherwise a very enjoyable package.
However, as a collector's piece the Focus RS is without peer.
Only a few remain available in dealerships and, with no replacement expected, now is perhaps your best chance of owning the hottest Ford hatchback of all time.