Being available in the United States isn't the only thing that makes new Focus RS special. Most notably, it's the first of its kind with all-wheel-drive, putting it atop the sport compact segment with the likes of the Subaru WRX STI and Volkswagen Golf R.
As its name suggests, the RS is a Focus at heart. Offered only in hatchback form (like the less-hot-but-still-sporty Ford Focus ST), the RS is the king of American sport compacts.
The RS takes the ST formula to its most extreme conclusion. The engine is a 2.3L unit that shares some basic architecture with the engine found in the Ford Mustang EcoBoost. It is turbocharged and intercooled, putting out 350 horsepower and 350lb-ft of torque.
This power goes to the ground by way of a six-speed manual transmission and all-wheel-drive with torque vectoring—a first for a performance Focus.
The performance upgrades don't end there. The Ford Focus RS is also equipped with a multi-mode electronically adjustable suspension and upgraded Brembo brakes.
Looks to match
The Focus RS builds on the Focus ST's already-aggressive styling. The RS gets a more pronounced front bumper with a protruding grille and fog lamp surrounds, a much larger rear wing spoiler and pronounced exhaust outlets surrounded by a beefy rear diffuser.
To finish off this sporty exterior look, Ford offers the Focus RS with unique, dark-finish wheels shod with high-performance summer tires. An upgrade to Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires on forged aluminum wheels is available as one of the Focus RS's few option packages.
While the Focus RS may be a performance-first model, Ford recognizes that those purchasing an all-wheel-drive compact may count on it for driving all year 'round. With that in mind, Ford will sell you a set of dedicated wheels and snow tires for the cold season, making the Focus RS a true best-of-both-worlds option for performance enthusiasts.
An engine block heater is also available for those in truly frosty climates.
The exterior theme continues inside, where the Focus RS again takes the ST's formula a few steps further. Unique Recaro seats are the RS's centerpiece. They're part-leather and embroidered with the "RS" logo. Full-leather Recaro seats are available with the RS2 package.
The RS also gets a branded, flat-bottom steering wheel and a unique center console surround that makes space for the RS's drive mode selector along with aluminum pedal and shifter finish.
Features and Options
The RS comes in two trims: the base (RS) and RS2.
RS models come standard with partial leather Recaro sport seats, a 60/40 flat-fold rear seat, a flat-bottom steering wheel with integrated audio and cluster controls, Ford's Sync 3 infotainment system, two USB charge and data ports, power door locks, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, two 12V power points (one front, one rear), power mirrors with integrated blind spot mirrors, HID headlamps, Ford's Easy Fuel capless fuel filler and a rear view camera.
The RS2 package adds full-leather Recaro front seats with eight-way power adjustment, heated mirrors, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel and voice-activated navigation.
A ten-speaker Sony audio system with an integrated subwoofer is available in either a stand-alone navigation package or as part of the RS2 package.
Standard safety equipment includes dual-stage front airbags, side-impact airbags, side-curtain airbags (both rows), a driver's knee airbag, height-adjustable safety belts and LATCH anchors.
The Focus RS competes in a fairly tight niche. The Subaru WRX STI and Volkswagen Golf R are its chief rivals.