2018 Ford Focus RS

2018 Ford Focus RS Review

The Ford Focus RS combines real-world practicality with sports-car levels of performance.
author
by Carlos Lago
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

The 2018 Ford Focus RS has everything you'd expect from a sports car, including a high-output engine, super-sticky tires and stout brakes. Certainly, the RS is a blast to drive. Yet this hatchback also delivers a decent amount of utility.

The Focus RS fits squarely under the "hot hatch" category of cars, meaning it combines the utility of a hatchback commuter car with serious performance. But it also goes beyond more common hot hatches such as the Volkswagen GTI or Ford's own Focus ST. The RS' turbocharged 2.3-liter inline-four makes 350 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque, while its all-wheel-drive system can selectively bias power to individual wheels. It even has a drive setting that allows a tail-out "drifting" style of cornering easier.

This year marks the final run of this generation Focus RS. To send it off, Ford is providing a run of only 1,500 cars for North America, each outfitted with performance-enhancing options such as a front locking differential and lightweight forged wheels. We suspect this RS is going to be prized by enthusiasts for a long time to come.



What's new for 2018

For its last model year, the Focus RS comes standard with some formerly optional features, including the navigation system and the power Recaro front seats. A mechanical front limited-slip differential and forged 19-inch wheels are also standard this year.

We recommend

Considering the limited-run nature of the 2018 Ford Focus RS, we recommend moving quickly. Those in chillier climates should consider the Winter Wheel and Tire package, as the standard summer tires are useless in the snow. The optional Michelin Cup tires are overkill with regard to grip, but you won't be able to find a set of four cheaper anywhere else.



Trim levels & features

The 2018 Ford Focus RS is a high-performance hatchback that is available in one fully loaded trim level. As this is the last year of its production, there are only a handful of options to choose from. The RS employs a turbocharged 2.3-liter inline-four (350 hp, 350 lb-ft of torque) that is connected to a six-speed manual transmission. A torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system is standard.

Standard features include keyless entry, 19-inch wheels wrapped in summer tires, a Quaife limited-slip front differential, LED lights, RS badges throughout, a high-mounted rear spoiler, carbon-fiber interior accents, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, a rearview camera, and Ford's Sync 3 infotainment system.

Aside from a moonroof, the Focus RS' options list mostly consists of tire options. Available Michelin Pilot Cup Sport 2 tires dramatically improve tire grip at a significant expense of tread life, while the Winter Wheel and Tire package provides smaller diameter (18-inch) wheels shod with Michelin winter tires.



Trim tested

Edmunds has not yet driven any version of the 2018 Ford Focus RS. The following is our first take on what's significant about it and what you can expect.

Driving

Few cars have a mode specifically for drifting, and none are four-door hatchbacks. The Focus RS delivers driving excitement in spades, from the acceleration provided by its powerful engine to the tenacious grip and balance from its clever all-wheel-drive system.

Comfort

Adjustable dampers help calm the ride down, but only by a little. After all, prioritizing handling and ultimate performance means sacrificing ride comfort. You could drive the Focus RS daily, but you — and your passengers — will always be aware of its sporty intentions.

Interior

The Focus RS starts with economy car roots, and nowhere is it more apparent than the interior. Excellent side bolsters on the Recaro-branded front seats help keep you in place, but they might be constricting to the wider-bodied.

Utility

The hatchback design means the Focus RS offers more storage space than most sports cars at this price. Plus, the foldable second row more than doubles the cargo volume.

Technology

Though it looks somewhat plain, Ford's Sync 3 infotainment system is powerful and user-friendly. It also offers Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, giving plenty of options to owners.

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.