Used 2016 Ford Focus RS Hatchback Review
The 2016 Ford Focus RS is exactly what you want from a hot hatch: all-wheel drive, a bonkers engine and a usable backseat.
This is it, the car that Ford fans have been waiting for since the Focus became a single global vehicle for 2012. For years, Focus fans have sat by while other markets got to experience the lunacy of the high-powered, front-wheel-drive RS variant. Sure, the Blue Oval eventually produced the 252-horsepower ST version that served as an answer to the Volkswagen GTI and Subaru WRX, but it wasn't enough. The faithful wanted more.
So Ford obliged. The 2016 Ford Focus RS is finally here, with more grunt than the Volkswagen Golf R and Subaru WRX STI, its primary competitors. Under the hood is a version of the same turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine found in the Mustang EcoBoost, but in this iteration it churns out a smoking 350 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. And the engine powers all four wheels, unlike its front-wheel-drive European predecessor.
During normal driving, all power is routed through the front wheels. When the wheels begin to slip or the computer detects steering input, the torque vectoring system allows as much as 70 percent of available torque to be sent to one or both rear wheels. The computer further reduces dreaded understeer by grabbing brakes on the inside tires to help the car rotate as it slices around a corner. Track-ready tires are even available for those who intend to take their Focus RS racing. And while there they can also experiment with the "Drift" drive mode, which works in conjunction with the stability control system (and the driver's own ability) to send the RS into a controlled slide.
There are few true competitors to the Focus RS. The 292-hp 2016 Volkswagen Golf R strikes an agreeable balance between performance and comfort. It also offers an automated manual transmission for those averse to a clutch pedal. The 2016 Subaru WRX STI is the stalwart choice for those looking for big thrills in this price range, but its punishing ride may grow tiresome day to day. If you're looking for a high-powered compact car with a touch of class, there's always the Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG and 2016 Audi S3, but they are considerably more expensive. Overall, it's fair to say the Focus RS is in a class by itself. Hopefully for Ford fans, it will be well worth the wait.
trim levels & features
The 2016 Ford Focus RS is a performance-oriented version of the Focus four-door hatchback.
Standard equipment includes 19-inch alloy wheels, summer tires, performance brakes, adjustable suspension settings, xenon headlights, LED running lights, foglights, integrated blind-spot mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, a rearview camera, cruise control, air-conditioning, dual-zone automatic climate control, partial leather upholstery, front Recaro sport seats (with driver height adjustment), a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, multi-color ambient lighting, a 10-speaker Sony sound system with HD and satellite radios, two USB ports and the Sync 3 infotainment system (including an 8-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, voice controls and media player interface).
The RS2 package adds heated exterior mirrors, a heated steering wheel, a navigation system, heated front seats, a six-way power driver seat (with two-way power lumbar) and leather upholstery with simulated suede inserts. The Winter Tire & Wheel package provides winter tires mounted to RS-specific 18-inch wheels.
Standalone options include track-focused Michelin Pilot Cup Sport 2 tires, 19-inch forged alloy wheels and a sunroof.
performance & mpg
The 2016 Ford Focus RS is powered by a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 350 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission, all-wheel drive, hill-start assist and an automatic stop-start system are standard.
Fuel economy and zero-to-60 acceleration data were not available at the time of this writing.
The 2016 Ford Focus RS comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, a driver knee airbag, front side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. The Sync 3 system includes an emergency crash-notification feature that automatically dials 911 when paired with a compatible cell phone. Also standard are integrated blind-spot mirrors, a rearview camera and Ford's MyKey system, which can be used to set electronic parameters for inexperienced drivers.
While we have yet to test the 2016 Ford Focus RS, there are a few initial impressions to report. The turbo engine is abundantly powerful, and rockets the RS forward with a savagery that just isn't found at this price point. Part of that savagery is courtesy of the all-wheel-drive system that tenaciously claws at the pavement, while also eliminating the torque steer that plagues the Focus ST. Its torque vectoring capability also promises superior corner-taking abilities by quelling understeer and whipping the car around with the tenacity of much pricier sports cars. Plus, selectable drive modes allow the driver to switch between normal and sport settings for damper stiffness, exhaust note, stability control, engine responsiveness and steering feel. Check back for future driving impression updates as they become available.
The quality of the 2016 Ford Focus RS cabin can't quite match that of the Golf R's, which boasts near-luxury materials and design. However, the Focus arguably has more visual flair — multi-color lighting, blue stitching, extra gauges atop the dash — and is leaps and bounds more welcoming than the decidedly Spartan Subaru STI. In total, the cabin is nice enough to make the Focus RS's elevated price tag less eyebrow raising.
Ford's Sync 3 infotainment system utilizes an 8-inch touchscreen designed to incorporate gestures like "swiping" between pages or "pinching" to zoom that will feel familiar to smartphone or tablet users. The menu structure is simple and the layout, with its white background and bottom row of buttons, will be recognizable to those who use Apple iOS devices.
Up front, the Recaro bucket seats provide aggressive side bolsters that offer considerable lateral restraint in hard cornering. Those broader of beam may find them overly confining, however. Rear seat passengers will find an acceptable amount of headroom, but less legroom than in competitors like the Golf R and WRX STI. There's plenty of cargo space, however, with 23.8 cubic feet of room behind the 60/40-split rear seats and a handy 44.8 cubic feet with them folded down.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.