How It Looks
Yes, yes, it looks like a Focus. But only barely. The Focus RS is so puffed up and angry, it’s easy to forget it’s the same car bought en masse by state governments and rental car fleets. We particularly like the headlights and grille – they have the most dramatic impact on the RS’ look, giving it a face that’s still familiar, but far more menacing. The flared wheel arches and big wing are to be expected on a car like this, but it’s that face that does the most to set the RS apart its lesser siblings.
Until Ford finally grants our wishes and builds a Mustang SVO, the Focus RS’ 2.3-liter, turbocharged engine will go down as the brand’s most potent four-cylinder. And what a charmer it was, with 350 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque, this engine is a fantastic partner for some straight-line shenanigans. And it makes a great sound, too, with bangs and pops from the rear while lifting off, and plenty of turbo wooshiness under hard throttle.
The Focus RS sounds so good it deserves a second mention. The noises that come from the RS’ dual exhausts are delicious. Tunnels became our new favorite play place while driving this car, with gunshot-like reports erupting from the twin pipes when we lifted off after hard throttle. It’s a juvenile attribute, sure, but the Focus RS is a pretty juvenile car.
The Accessory Gauges
Digital cockpits are the way forward in today’s cars. The Civic Type R, for example, packages everything the driver needs to know in an attractive TFT instrument cluster. Not the Focus RS, though. While there is a small display in the IP, a trio of gauges sprouts from the top of the dash showing oil temperature, boost, and oil pressure. They’re a neat callback to the accessory gauges hot-rodders still rely on to monitor their vehicles.
The Focus RS’ seating position is… odd. The driver sits high, and seats themselves are deep and heavily bolstered. It’s such a unique position that, despite not being as comfortable as some rivals, we’re going to miss the quirkiness of it all. This is one of those idiosyncrasies that, while dynamically undesirable, becomes something owners will appreciate. Also, the chairs just look fantastic.
The Focus RS is really, really blue. Aside from our tester’s beautiful Nitrous Blue paint, all four Brembo brake calipers wear Nitrous Blue paint. The seats get blue accents. As does the steering wheel. And the RS badges. It’s all blue, and we dig it.
Did you really think we could avoid pouring one out for Drift Mode? The ridiculous feature has given us plenty of thrills behind the wheel and even more watching #DriftModeFails on YouTube. It’s a silly feature, but it’s the one that captures the Focus RS’ raison d’être better than any other – this is a car for the lulz.
While Drift Mode exemplifies some of the Focus RS’ absurdness, the available Drift Stick is really the cherry on top of this all-wheel-drive, 350-hp sundae. The Drift Stick is a reasonably priced accessory – $999 – that is easy to install and allows the driver to quickly lock the rear brakes. It’s electric, so there’s only a small range of movement compared to a traditional lever, allowing the driver to lock the rear wheels even faster than a usual yank on the hand brake would. It’s a silly feature, for a silly driving mode, for a silly car. And we dig it.
10 / 10