New respect for our hot hatch is found during a wet weekend in the Cotswolds
31 March 2017

Although rather a lone voice in the argument, I had yet to be been blown away by the latest Ford Focus RS.

As a fast Ford fan and former owner – well, I thought a 1.8 Focus was fast back then – I was sad that a 345bhp four-wheel-drive version hadn’t quite yet beguiled me in the way it had so many others. 

A couple of sodden days in our Focus RS left me far more endeared to it. I still have some reservations but, short of a Nissan GT-R, I’m not sure what else I would have rather driven during that wet weekend in the Cotswolds. 

On the road, in dry weather and with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres, the limits of adhesion are rarely breached, but on a slicker surface the Focus RS comes alive; not in a wild and lairy way, but simply in a fashion that gives the driver more to do and more to be excited by. 

A combination of the constant overspeed of the rear wheels through the GKN all-wheel drive system and a super-sharp turn in gives you confidence that the Focus RS will dive into a corner and then power out of it with a hint of oversteer. 

Attacking a corner in such a fashion in one of the Focus RS’s front-wheel-drive rivals would result in understeer. In a hot hatch equipped with a Haldex all-wheel drive system, the experience is likely to be one of absolute grip. To feel a hot hatch such as the Focus RS powering out of a bend from the rear, and with the security of four driven wheels, is absolutely fantastic. 

Our next tasks are to investigate a rattle from the speaker in the door card and to ascertain the maximum fuel economy we can manage. To achieve the latter, though, we’ll first have to restrain ourselves from having quite so much fun on greasy roads, which is easier said than done.

Matthew Bird

Read our previous reports below

How does it drive in the wet?

As a former Subaru Impreza WRX owner, I’m bang on the target audience for the Focus RS.

After all, the Ford has the all-wheel-drive, all-weather pace that made cars like my old Subaru and its Mitsubishi Evo nemesis such heroes back in the day.

With the weather taking a turn for the worse, the roads are now slick with leaf mulch and standing water – perfect conditions for the Focus to prove itself. I have to say, though, that the bumpy roads round my way mean the RS’s super-quick steering, fierce springing and willingness to rotate into the corner on the throttle make more demands of the driver than I’d expected. As such, it’s proving itself more Evo than Volkswagen Golf R in nature and in no way dumbed down.

If you’re up for the challenge, that’s great news. Not so long ago, you’d have had to endure horrendous fuel consumption and weekly service intervals for this level of pace. That you can now get it in a Focus says much for Ford’s democratisation of performance.

Little niggles 

Much as we’d love to spend the entire three months with the Focus RS in the Highlands, the fact is that a lot of its driving will be in town. It’s the same for many hot hatches, of course. And sadly the Focus doesn’t fare too well, with a tough low-speed ride, terrible turning circle and tricky visibility. Hopefully, more fun miles can redress the balance soon. 

Dan Trent


Price £31,000 Price as tested £35,135 Economy 26.3mpg Faults None Expenses None Last seen 23.11.16

First report

Its first service

Ford Focus RS Mk2: used buying guide

Our Verdict

Ford Focus RS

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

Join the debate


31 March 2017
Surely you could have spared a little more ink? Is the Focus RS unpredictable in the wet? Are you able to peddle along at a good clip into and out of corners or must you use opposite lock very quickly to save it? Is it reassuring and ultimately
Safe on such roads? Thanks for filling in the blanks a bit. J

31 March 2017
Price £31,000 Price as tested £35,135 Economy 26.3mpg Faults None Expenses None Last seen 23.11.16

So no experience yet of the cracked crankcase or cylinder head /gasket issues. RDU seals leaking etc.
Or the support from Oval badge CS when problems occur with time off road. See vlog around.

31 March 2017
vrskeith wrote:

"Price £31,000 Price as tested £35,135 Economy 26.3mpg Faults None Expenses None Last seen 23.11.16"

So no experience yet of the cracked crankcase/block or cylinder head /gasket issues. RDU seals leaking etc.
Or the report very poor support from Oval badge CS, when problems occur with time off road. See vlog around.

USA market have had 3 recall to my knowledge ,anything you know about in UK / Europe?

History seems to be with held and present of real issues, however Future Customer and current Owners are becoming more aware but no openness from the Manufacturer as yet.

What do Autocar, ears to the ground / inquisitive journos know or are they all conveniently deaf at present or doesn't want to bite the hand that feeds then.


31 March 2017
When was this written? This is the time of year when grip returns. Worst is the leaf mulch Oct-ish.

31 March 2017
Apart from mentioning road conditions and comparing to Evo you have not actually said how it handles?

As mentioned above this is the back of a fag packet review at best and not worth the airtime

31 March 2017
"DRIFT MODE" always use it for my day to day family trips out- kids love it!

31 March 2017
I'm surprised at the turning circle issues - My MK5 Mondeo has 19" alloys and lowered sports suspension and it's turning circle is good.

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week