The Ford Focus RS Mk3 is one of the most exciting driver’s cars of recent times – it received a full five-star rating in these pages when we road tested it back in 2016.
But two years after the four-wheel-drive mega-hatch arrived offering sports car performance for just £32,765, a number of owners are reporting reliability issues.
A plume of white smoke on start-up is the telltale sign that something is amiss under the Focus RS’s bonnet, as are reports that low-mileage cars have needed new engines and that a parts supply issue is keeping some cars off the road for weeks. Online owners’ forums are rife with suggestions that about 15,000 cars around the world could be affected, yet no official recall has been issued by Ford.
So what exactly is going on with the Focus RS? With no official explanation of the issue from Ford, owners and independent specialists have had to come up with their own diagnosis. It seems to relate to the unique 2.3-litre Ecoboost four-cylinder engine used in the RS. Although the unit is built alongside the Mustang’s four-pot motor at Ford’s Valencia engine plant in Spain, the 345bhp RS powerplant uses an aluminium head and block and features bespoke coolant passages.