Ford recently announced they will killing off their entire lineup of passenger cars with the exception of the Mustang in the United States, in favor of crossovers and trucks that are all the rage these days. Walking towards the gallows is the Ford Focus, and with it, the incredible Ford Focus RS, a 350-horsepower, all-wheel drive, stick-shifted, supreme hot-hatch with big spoilers and bigger brakes. The Focus RS is essentially a rally car for the road with the sole aim of automotive hooliganism. It's very fast, it's loud, and it comes with a drift mode to help you pretend to be Ken Block. Oh, and a hatchback that can be used for carrying a living room of Ikea furniture at the same time.

Best Value

Choosing your Ford Focus RS is pretty straightforward. There's one engine choice, two paint choices, and a grand total of three options: a moonroof, extra high-performance tires, and the winter tire package. Everything else comes standard, so there isn't a lot of choosing to be done.

That being said, we will absolutely pay extra for the Nitrous Blue paint and the moonroof. Also, since the Focus RS comes with performance summer tires and we live in a place where it snows occasionally, the Winter Tire Package is a must have for the colder months. The Winter Tire Package is a great deal because doesn't replace the performance summers on your RS, but instead sends you home with an extra set of wheels shod with performance winter tires so you can swap back and forth when the weather changes.

  • Model: 2018 Ford Focus RS
  • Engine: 2.3-liter turbocharged inline-four
  • Output: 350 hp / 350 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual
  • Drivetrain: All-wheel drive
  • Fuel Economy: 19 City/26 Highway
  • Options: Nitrous Blue Paint ($695), Moonroof ($895), Winter Tire Package ($1,995, Extra Set of Four Alloy Wheels with Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4 Tires)
  • Base Price: $41,995 (including a $875 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price: $45,580

Performance

Ford Focus RS

The Ford Focus RS is arguably the king of hot hatches and sport compacts, with a neat 350 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque sent to all four wheels via a six-speed manual transmission. The RS rests on an adjustable sport suspension, the wheels hide bigger brakes, and the exhaust gives it a loud raspy shout. The tires are Michelin Super Sports, capable of providing a ton of grip in the corners, but you can upgrade to the ultra-sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2, a summer rubber often seen on high end exotics.

This is a car for shenanigans that are cheeky and fun. The stability control has a track mode like many high-performance vehicles, but most high performance vehicles don't come with a Drift Mode. The RS's drift mode uses the torque vectoring abilities of the all-wheel drive to send power to specific wheels, allowing even grandparents to pull off dramatic oversteer slides in complete control. It's a gimmick, but it's a fun gimmick.

All of this adds up well on the track, but out in the real world the RS can be a bit harder to live with than to other hot-hatches. The suspension may be adjustable, but even in its softest setting it can jar you to bone. This can make it very hard to live with as a daily driver on our rutted and potholed roads.

Style

The Ford Focus RS tries desperately to attract attention; there is no incognito option for this car. The only two paint choices are Race Red and Nitrous Blue, the brake calipers are blue, and there are RS badges plastered all over. The RS sits low and there's a gigantic spoiler hanging over the rear. For some it is a really good look, but others may find it excessive.

Inside, the Focus RS is pretty straightforward, although you do get some luxuries like dual-zone climate control, heated leather sport seats, a heated leather steering wheel, and an infotainment system that include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Despite the price tag of over $40,000, the dashboard and switch gear still feels like that of a base Focus that costs half the price. Furthermore, the leather sport seats are great at keeping you snug in the corners, but in day to day life they can feel a bit constricted.

The Best and Worst Things

The best thing about the Focus RS is that it exists. The RS is a car for enthusiasts, by enthusiasts. To these people, comfort is secondary to raw performance and the Focus RS makes that tradeoff in droves. The fact that Ford is selling a car with a Drift Mode is proof that car companies are run by people who like to have fun on the road as well.

As previously mentioned, the RS is pretty one dimensional. It may be a monster on the track, and on an empty mountain road it is very hard to beat, but in day to day life as a commuter vehicle it can be uncomfortable and unforgiving. The entire point of a hot hatch like the Focus RS is that it is supposed to be like Jekyll and Hyde; capable of switching back and forth between a civilized daily driver and an animalistic speed demon. The RS is really just the latter.

Right For? Wrong For?

Ford Focus RS

The Focus RS is a true enthusiasts' vehicle. Driving one daily is a badge of honor that declares you are concerned with the amount of fun available to your car more than anything else. It's an awesome car and we salute the people who make the choice to have one in their life.

The Ford Focus RS is not inconspicuous, and it is not refined. Your money is going into performance, not comfort or luxury at all. This is a car that appeals to the inner twelve year old, and it looks like it too. If you feel a bit too grown-up for that, or if you want a premium hatch that's both fast and refined, we suggest you try the Golf R instead.

The Bottom Line

The Ford Focus RS is a hardcore hot hatch that is the king of performance in the segment. It may be a bit difficult to live with, but no other car on the road has a Drift Mode for helping you goof off. The RS is a hoot and a half, and because of that we are going to miss this car.