How to Modify Your Ford Focus RS

How to Modify Your Ford Focus RS

Last Updated October 3, 2023 | C.J. Tragakis

The Ford Focus RS remains one of the most highly-regarded hot hatchbacks around. The power, all-wheel drive capability, style, handling, and practicality combine to make an incredible all-around car that can equal or best virtually any competitor. It still puts up a great fight against the Subaru WRX STI, VW Golf R, and Honda Civic Type R. Sadly, 2018 was the last production year for the car, and we don’t expect a return to the United States any time in the foreseeable future.

In the context of the auto industry, the Focus RS was only available for a blink of an eye, from 2016-2018. However, this rarity has only made the car more popular with enthusiasts, and those looking to upgrade their Focus RS to keep up with the times have turned to the aftermarket. Whether you want to squeeze as much performance out of the hatchback as possible or just want to put your own custom touch on it, there are endless options when it comes to modding Ford’s beloved hot hatch.

In order to help those wanting to make this great car even better, we took a close look at the Ford Focus RS and made a video about the things you should modify, as well as noting what parts are so good that they don’t need to be changed. Or, if you’ve already got a wishlist of mods you want, you can head right over to our Focus RS parts page to start shopping for your next upgrades.

In our list below, you can read about what we came up with in terms of what to upgrade and what to leave as-is, so that you can find the best mods for your Focus RS.

What to Modify on Your Focus RS

Modify: Exhaust

As any car enthusiast will tell you, one of the funnest modifications is the exhaust, so you can give it your RS the aggressive growl you’re looking for.

While an axle-back kit will give you an enhanced exhaust note, we recommend going for a cat-back kit, which will also give you improved performance.

Modify: Electronic Tuning

Add a Cobb Accessport to help fine-tune your performance. This is one of the easiest ways to improve the performance of your Focus RS, with plug-and-play installation that can be changed or reset at any time.

Modify: Springs

Upgrade to sport lowering springs to create a lower center of gravity and give you better handling. The Focus RS handles great in stock form, but for autocross or track use, aftermarket springs can take it to the next level in terms of steering feel and precision.

Modify: Brake Rotors and Pads

Upgrade to performance brake rotors for improved cooling and performance brake pads for better grip and less dust, keeping your wheels cleaner. These are less necessary if your Focus RS will solely be a daily driver, but some would consider them a must-have for track use.

Modify: Sway Bar

While the Focus RS’ sway bar is already noticeably stiffer that the ST’s in stock form, it can still be modified or upgraded to give it the feel you desire. If you want to make the handling of your RS even tighter and more direct, this suspension upgrade should be near the top of your list.

Modify: Carbon Fiber Parts

The RS doesn’t come with any carbon fiber parts, but you can add plenty of your own to reduce weight or just for looks, including spoilers, oil caps, interior trim, and more. We think carbon fiber works great with the visual aesthetic of the Focus RS and can help your hot hatch stand out from the pack.

Modify: Intakes

The first thing that many enthusiasts will do is replace the factory air intake. Replacing your intake gives you a bit more power and opens up the engine bay. Plus, in conjunction with an electronic tune and/or exhaust upgrade, you open up the potential for even stronger performance.

What to Leave Alone on Your Focus RS

Leave As-Is: Intercooler

The RS’s intercooler was operating so well that Ford had to install a blanking plate to slightly block air intake and actually reduce its efficiency! You can upgrade if you want, but we’d recommend just leaving the stock component there.

Leave As-Is: Brake Calipers

It doesn’t get much better than the Brembo calipers that come standard with on the RS. If you need to replace them, we’d recommend going right for Brembos.

Driver’s Choice: Up to You to Change or Leave Alone

Driver's Choice: Wheels

The RS currently has Michelin Pilot Super Sports wrapped around light alloy 19-inch wheels, with 18-inch winter tires as an option. We like them well enough, but you can upgrade the wheels to get the custom look you desire, especially if you’d prefer matte black, silver, gunmetal, or bronze over the gloss black color that comes stock.

Driver's Choice: Seats

The base Recaro seats are virtually identical to those in the Focus ST2, which look great but lack passenger height adjustment. An upgraded package adds heated adjustable seats and heated steering wheel.

There you have it! Whether you heavily modify it or keep it stock, the new Focus RS is an amazing car.

This article was researched, written, edited, and reviewed following the steps outlined in our editorial process. Learn more about CJ's editorial standards and guidelines.