The 2018 Ford Focus RS has everything you want from a sports car, including a high output engine, strong brakes and super-stick tires. Of course, the RS is a blast to drive. But this hatchback also provides a decent amount of utility.
The 2018 Focus RS stands in “hot hatch” category, which means it combines hatchback utility with high performance. But it also goes beyond more common hot hatches like the Volkswagen GTI or Focus ST. Its turbocharged 2.3-liter inline-four engine makes 350 horsepower and 350 pound-foot torque, while the all-wheel-drive system can selectively bias power to individual wheels. Furthermore, it even has a drive setting that allows a tail-out “drifting” style of cornering easier.
This is the final year for the current generation Focus RS. For that, Ford provides only 1,500 cars for North America, each equipped with performance improvement options such as lightweight forged wheels and front locking differential. The RS is expected to be prized by enthusiasts for a long time to come.
For its final year, the Focus RS comes standard with some formerly optional features, including power Recaro front seats and navigation system. Forged 19-inch wheels and a mechanical front limited-slip differential are also standard this year.
Trim levels and features
The 2018 Ford Focus RS is a high-performance version of the Focus four-door hatchback. It is available in one fully loaded trim level with a few items of optional equipment.
Standard equipment for the Focus RS includes summer tires, 19-inch alloy wheels, performance brakes, a Quaife limited-slip front differential, adjustable suspension settings, LED running lights, automatic xenon headlights, foglights, a high-mounted rear spoiler, RS badges throughout, integrated blind-spot mirrors and keyless entry.
Inside you’ll get a carbon-fiber interior accent, dual-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, push-button start, a rearview camera, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, heated front seats, front Recaro sport seats, partial leather upholstery, navigation system, the Sync 3 infotainment system with an 8-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity along, a 10-speaker Sony sound system with two USB ports, HD and satellite radio.
Apart from a moonroof, the 2018 Ford Focus RS options list mostly consists of tire options. Available options include Michelin Pilot Cup Sport 2 tires which improve tire grip at a significant expense of tread life. The Winter Wheel and Tire package give 18-inch wheels shod with Michelin winter tires.
The 2017 Ford Focus RS is powered by a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 350 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission sent that power to all four wheel via a torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system. A mechanical front limited-slip, hill-start assist and an automatic stop-start system are also standard.
Despite its four doors and versatile hatchback, the Focus RS performance is above all else. In this hot-hatch class, only the Honda Civic Type R truly challenges the RS. In performance testing, the 2018 Ford Focus RS with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 Tires accelerates from zero to 60 mph in just 4.3 seconds. Top speed of 165 mph.
EPA estimated fuel economy stands at 22 mpg in combined driving (19 city/26 highway).
The 2018 Ford Focus RS interior is almost similar to that found in the Focus ST. The cabins are nicely built and laid out, with precise control within range and soft surfaces for your elbows to rest, but it doesn’t feel as classy as the price tag might suggest. Competitors such as the Audi S3 and Golf R look and feel much more upscale.
On the tech side, the 2018 Ford Focus RS features a Sync 3 system with an 8-inch touchscreen on the center console. The screen is designed to operate like a smartphone with gestures such as swiping or pinching to zoom. The menu structure is simple and the layout, with a white background and bottom row of buttons, will be easily recognizable to those who using Apple iOS devices. Anyone who remembers the previous MyFord Touch Focus system will be happy to know that this newer software is easier to use and quicker to respond.
Like the ST, the 2018 Focus RS has a heavily bolstered Recaro bucket seats that offer great lateral restraint in hard cornering. Bigger drivers may want to have an extended test drive in this seat if they can, as the bolsters can become uncomfortable depending on body type. The rear seats have enough headroom for tall adults, but legroom is somewhat tight, a common thing in this class. Most of the Focus RS competitors have more legroom, but only an inch or two. With 19.9 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, the Focus RS falls behind the Golf R which has 22.8 cubes, but still more than a WRX STI sedan that is only 12 cubes.
Release Dates and Price
The 2018 Focus RS has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting around $42,000.