Currently reading: Ford Focus RS long-term test review: first report
We’ve finally got our hands on a Focus RS to find out if this fast Ford can live up to its five-star road test billing in day-to-day use
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4 mins read
1 December 2016

Everyone loves a fast Ford, right?

Indeed, this year has arguably been the year of the fast Ford, with a glorious return to Le Mans, the arrival of the Fiesta ST 200 and the addition of right-hand-drive Mustangs to the UK line-up. For enthusiasts, Ford and its Ford Performance sub-division are very exciting brands right now.

But it’s the Focus RS that’s of the most interest, for a number of reasons. On top of following its two iconic predecessors (plus all manner of legendary classic fast Fords), the Focus RS also enters a fiercely competitive sector. For around £30,000, rivals include the Honda Civic Type R, Seat Leon Cupra 290, Audi S3, Volkswagen Golf R, BMW M135i and Peugeot 308 GTi 270. All are great cars, packing more technology, speed and enjoyment into the C-segment than would have been thought possible a decade ago.

Much has been said already about the Focus RS’s advanced fourwheel drive and torque vectoring, attributes that helped it to earn a five-star road test rating. On top of that, it brings adjustable dampers, launch control and a 2.3-litre Ecoboost engine making 345bhp. To pack all this into a £30,000 car is remarkable, so it will be fascinating to explore each and every part of it as a longer-term prospect.

First things first, though, because ours isn’t quite a £30,000 car. Having been launched at £29,995, the base retail price for an RS is now £31,250 (or £31,000 when this one was registered). On top of that, our car comes with a few choice options that will most likely be added by many buyers. Most obvious is the Nitrous Blue paint, a £745 option that gives a much more vibrant look. The RS can appear a little plain in grey or black, and certainly so in the company of its brutish predecessors, so expect to see a lot of the Mk3 RSs in blue to restore the visual drama.

In addition, we have matching painted brake calipers (£100), the Luxury Pack (including power mirrors, rear parking sensors and cruise control) for £1000 and the £1145 Recaro front seats. Previous experience suggests the seats are very supportive but mounted too high, so it will interesting to see how that manifests itself day to day.

You’ll also notice the black forged wheels, which add another £595. To these eyes they’re another musthave, suiting the car better than the standard wheels. Both are 19in in diameter, a size that still seems rather barmy on a Ford Focus.

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Is Ford’s AWD mega-hatch as special as we first thought? And can the Focus RS beat stiff competition from the Volkswagen Golf R and Mercedes-AMG A45?

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That lot makes this RS a £35,000 car, which is a somewhat pricier proposition but still competitive, given the performance. An Audi RS3, remember, with barely another 20bhp and a less advanced four-wheel drive system, is £40,000 before any options are added.

Given the demand for the Focus RS, we’ve had to wait quite a while to get hold of one. It also means this car already has just under 11,000 miles on the clock. Still, at least we don’t have to worry about running it in…

Because when you have three months with a Focus RS, it really is imperative to drive it at every opportunity. Inevitably it will be compared with its contemporaries and will most likely find its way onto a track on occasion, but it also needs to work day to day on the road. Can it feel special at ordinary speeds? And as a more mature hot hatch than the Focus RS has ever been, can it still entertain on those cheeky B-road blasts that define the modern fast Ford?

Initial impressions are largely positive. These will be investigated more thoroughly over the coming weeks, of course, but there’s no doubting the Focus’s tremendous speed and thuggish character. There’s a sense of aggression and purpose to the car, from the way it rides to the way it sounds. Certainly it feels like a more serious prospect han the relatively soft ST, as you would expect.

Early downsides? The seats are most certainly set too high, although there are rumours of a dealer-fit option to address that – and being perched so high up means you spend less time looking at the low-rent dashboard. Interestingly, Ford has already introduced an updated Sync 3 infotainment system that supersedes the £465 Sync 2 in this car; we’ll aim to try a car so equipped to see how they compare. The boot seems a little pokey, too.

Despite all that, there’s strong demand for the Focus’s key, to the point that it will be out of my hands by the time you read this. Whoever’s behind the wheel looks set to have a great time, though – but just how great we’ll aim to answer soon.

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FORD FOCUS RS

Price £31,000 Price as tested £35,135 Options RS Recaro seats £1145, Luxury Pack £1000, Nitrous Blue paint £745, 19in forged black alloys £595, Ford Sync2 multimedia system £465, painted calipers £100, door edge protectors £85 Economy 30.6mpg Faults None Expenses None

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Stan916 1 December 2016

Bang for buck

You can say what you like about quality, fit and finish but the bottom line is that the RS delivers a bang for buck that neither Audi, BMW nor VW can match, let alone Mercedes.

I am obviously biased in that I own an RS, which has now completed 13000 completely trouble free (and hilarious) miles, but not a day goes by that I don't smile to myself at some point during the drive to and from work. Yes, the driver's seat is too high, but I've got used to it and I'm 6'4" tall, so it can't be that big a deal.

The car is just SO MUCH FUN to drive that it's hard to fault. I also have my own personal servicing guy from Sandicliffe Ford in Leicester who comes in his van to take my car away for servicing, Mountune upgrades, free health checks, etc, etc. so all in all it's been a completely pleasurable ownership so far.

To cap it all residuals look very good so I'll keep smiling every day and thank the Lord for Ford's RS team.

Marc 1 December 2016

Stan916 wrote:

Stan916 wrote:

You can say what you like about quality, fit and finish but the bottom line is that the RS delivers a bang for buck that neither Audi, BMW nor VW can match, let alone Mercedes.

I am obviously biased in that I own an RS, which has now completed 13000 completely trouble free (and hilarious) miles, but not a day goes by that I don't smile to myself at some point during the drive to and from work. Yes, the driver's seat is too high, but I've got used to it and I'm 6'4" tall, so it can't be that big a deal.

The car is just SO MUCH FUN to drive that it's hard to fault. I also have my own personal servicing guy from Sandicliffe Ford in Leicester who comes in his van to take my car away for servicing, Mountune upgrades, free health checks, etc, etc. so all in all it's been a completely pleasurable ownership so far.

To cap it all residuals look very good so I'll keep smiling every day and thank the Lord for Ford's RS team.

As you're from the Leicester area, you're not the muppet that rags the blue RS through Hinckley are you? Particularly up Hawley Rd.

Stan916 1 December 2016

Sadly your muppet is someone

Sadly your muppet is someone else.
Stan916 1 December 2016

Thankfully your "muppet" is

Thankfully your "muppet" is someone else. Nice to see this comments page being used for relevant comment.
Marc 2 December 2016

Stan916 wrote:

Stan916 wrote:

Thankfully your "muppet" is someone else. Nice to see this comments page being used for relevant comment.

It is being (mostly) used for relevant comment. The report is about the ownership experience of the Ford Focus RS. Some may have different veiws, some may have veiws on how they perceive ownership, perhaps rightly or wrongly on stereotype. Personally after a very breif passenger ride in one I think it's a genuinely brilliant car, sadly hobbled by its somewhat humble Focus origins. I hope the ownership experience remains positve for you, it'll be a miracle if it does with Fords aftersales being involved. From a purely personal point of view, the car is a bit too loud/tasteless for me, to often seen being driven antisocially by cap wearing idiots with vapour from their E cigs billowing from the window. But each to their own.

Gojohnygo 1 December 2016

Focus RS ?

When I went to my local ford dealer to test drive a RS, he said before I drive the car I had to wear a baseball cap, and play Eminem very loudly, before being allowed a test drive, I declined and went and bought a 140i,enough said "Mate"
Marc 1 December 2016

As 4x said, that interior is

As 4x said, that interior is dreadful and has no place in any car let alone one as dire as a Ford Focus. As good as this car is made out to be, it'll soon be down to a price point where its picked up by societies w4nkers and that's where its desirability will end.
Stan916 1 December 2016

A bit like the "societies

A bit like the "societies w4nkers" currently driving around in Golfs then?
Marc 1 December 2016

Stan916 wrote:

Stan916 wrote:

A bit like the "societies w4nkers" currently driving around in Golfs then?

Quite possibly. But the Focus RS does tend to attract a particular personality.

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