The Ford Focus has acted in a lot of capacities throughout the years. It’s been an economical sedan, a family friendly hatch, and, with the introduction of the ST and RS models, a performance-oriented hatchback.
After 2018, the Focus RS will be discontinued, leaving the ST behind for the 2019 year. Though the 2019 Focus ST is inheriting the RS’ 2.3L four-cylinder EcoBoost, it won’t be coming to the United States for this year. There are already rumors circulating about the return of the Focus RS, but whether that’s based in fact or wishful thinking remains to be seen.
What is the Focus RS?
RS stands for “Rallye Sport” Ford’s European performance division associated with rally sports. This team actually worked on both the RS and the ST and is the equivalent of the Special Vehicles Team. The RS is intended to be a badge that’s associated with a particular type of performance, and in particular, designates a car that handles with the sporty and nimble feel of the Focus RS.
The Focus RS is designed to be Ford’s answer to the Volkswagen Golf R, the Subaru WRX STI, and the Honda Civic R, all of which are cars that are well loved for their handling rather than simply their raw power, but that are also capable of going fast and looking good while they do it.
Focus RS: Exterior
The 2018 Focus RS comes in two colors: Nitrous, a sharp looking blue, and Race Red. They’re both great colors, but you’ll pay a little extra for the Nitrous blue (not much, about $695). The exterior of the Focus RS has some great features that may or may not give it a performance boost, but that certainly give it a looks boost.
Regardless of which of the two colors you select, it will be paired with a glossy black roof, mirror caps, and roof spoiler. Meanwhile, the wing gains a slick blue RS logo that’s repeated on the front grille.
The rear spoiler is actually advertised as fully functional, and we’d believe it, but it’s also an attractively designed spoiler, proving that functionality and appearance can coexist. The chin spoiler helps to emphasize the sporty look of the RS.
Though the Brembo brakes are a performance feature, the painted caliper is also a nice touch. This is where the color comes into play and why you’ll see so many more Ford Focuses in Nitrous: It just works. The blue matches the painted calipers, the RS on the wing and grille and the contrast stitching on the interior.
2018 Ford Focus RS Dimensions
|Dimension||2018 Ford Focus RS
Focus RS Interior Features and Dimensions
The elephant in the room when it comes to the overall comfort of the Focus RS is the Recaro racing seats. Leather-trimmed and heated, they sound like they’re designed to be luxe, so why are so many professional reviewers less than keen on them?
There are a few reasons, and they should all be discussed because while we rarely talk about car seats, it’s one part of the car that you’ll be in contact with literally every time you need to use your car. In an era of overstuffed couches and cushy armchairs, the Recaros are stiff, not so much pushing you towards correct posture as insisting upon it. Others find the seats to be supportive, offering sufficient lumbar support and preventing slouching.
In short, if you’re the type of person who likes a firm mattress, standing desks, and straight-backed dining room chairs, you’ll probably find the seats a comfort and a joy, but don’t be surprised if some of your friends complain about them.
The Focus RS is loaded with some other creature comforts that everyone can enjoy. SYNC3 is standard, as is voice-activated navigation. Both of which are features that not only add convenience but that also improve the overall safety of the RS.
Perhaps one of the best things about the RS is all the things it doesn’t come with. While some performance oriented trim levels feel the need to be overwrought on the inside, using harsh color palettes that would make it hard to take your boss out to lunch without embarrassing both of you, the Focus RS is understated on the inside, with only a little contrast stitching and a couple of small RS badges.
Focus RS Interior Measurements
|Dimension||2018 Ford Focus RS
|Shoulder Room (front)
|Shoulder Room (rear)
|Hip Room (front)
|Hip Room (rear)
Ford Focus RS: Performance Specs
The 2018 Focus RS comes equipped with a turbocharged 2.3L EcoBoost engine that can churn out 350 hp. It’s a pretty impressive setup, but one that does come at the cost of fuel economy. Despite the compact size of the RS, and the four-cylinder engine, it’s not a sippy car and gets roughly 19 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.
Part of the poor fuel efficiency for the Focus RS is also the heft of the tiny car, which weighs in at nearly 3,500 lbs. AWD is certainly responsible for some of that extra weight, but it also accounts for quite a bit of the impressive handling of the Ford Focus RS, and is one of the primary reasons people are so drawn to this hatchback.
The only transmission available is a six-speed manual transmission with a mechanical limited slip differential. This limited slip differential is one of the most important improvements on the performance of the 2017 Ford Focus RS (which was no slouch either). People have raved about the shifting performance of the Focus RS, which has tidy and precise gear shifts and never loses its focus on being a car that’s fun to drive.
The 2018 Focus RS comes with 19” forged aluminum wheels, which have a blue RS center cap. The standard tires are Michelin Super Sport Summer tires, which are great, but as an upgrade the GT350’s Pilot Sport Cup 2 Summer tires are available.
As has become standard on anything from Ford’s performance series, there are multiple driving modes that include Track and Drift, allowing you to be prepared for a number of driving scenarios at ease.
2018 Ford Focus RS Performance Specs
|Spec||2018 Ford Focus RS
||350 Horsepower @ 6,000 RPM
||350 lb-ft Torque @ 3,200 RPM
|Bore x Stroke
||3.44” x 3.70”
The gear ratios for the six-speed manual transmission are:
- First: 3.23:1
2018 Ford Focus RS Pros and Cons
Unfortunately, only 1,000 limited-edition RS models will be available for sale in the U.S. for the 2018 model year. If you’ve got the opportunity to purchase one though these are definitely some of the most performance-oriented hatchbacks currently on the market in addition to being one of the most stylish. This is one of those cars that it seems like you need to test drive prior to purchasing though, just because so many of the features that were the most loved were also the most hated depending on who you were talking to. The same Recaro seats that were praised for their supportiveness were also criticized for being too tight and restrictive by a different driver. In short, a lot of it comes down to individual preference.
Sources: 2018 Ford Focus Brochure, Ford | 2018 Ford Focus RS Review, Car and Driver | Image Credit: Car and Driver | Ford