In the 1960s and 1970s, Detroit's automotive engineers took great delight in stuffing the most outrageously powerful engines they could build into ordinary coupes and sedans. It was a simple formula that gave birth to the first muscle cars. Decades later, the Ford Focus RS represents the modern take on affordable high performance.
Though it may seem odd to refer to what is essentially a compact hatchback as a muscle car, the fact of the matter is that the Focus RS has the goods to back up that claim. Under the hood is a highly tuned turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine good for a stout 350 horsepower. That's more powerful than the Ford Mustang's V8 from less than a decade ago.
There's more to the RS than just straight-line speed, however. A torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system is standard for enhanced traction and handling prowess, and powerful brakes slow down the RS in a hurry.
Naturally, this focus on performance comes with some distinct downsides. But when it comes time to tear up the asphalt of a winding mountain road or a closed course where this racetrack-ready machine can really strut its stuff, the Ford Focus RS has no equal.
Current Ford Focus RS
The Ford Focus RS is a highly tuned version of the regular Ford Focus hatchback. Standard equipment starts with 19-inch alloy wheels, high-performance summer tires, performance brakes, an adjustable suspension, automatic xenon headlights, LED running lights, foglights, and remote entry with push-button start. Inside, you'll get dual-zone automatic climate control, partial leather upholstery, Recaro front sport seats (with driver height adjustment), a rearview camera, a 10-speaker Sony sound system with HD and satellite radio, two USB ports and the Sync 3 infotainment system, including an 8-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth connectivity, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration.
Moving all of this down the road is a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 350 hp and 350 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission, all-wheel drive and a limited-slip front differential are all standard.
In our reviews, we've found the Ford Focus RS to be a hoot to drive. But the ultra-firm suspension that makes driving over freeway expansion joints seem as if you're going over railroad ties likely limits the car's appeal to all but the most dedicated drivers. Still, the Focus' inherent hatchback practicality remains; it offers more rear passenger and cargo space than similarly priced sports cars and performance coupes.
Used Ford Focus RS Models
The Focus RS has changed little since its 2016 introduction. For the first two years of production, a few features were optional as part of the RS2 package. That package became standard equipment for 2018.