The Ford Focus RS is the very definition of a hot hatchback. It’s a rally-inspired powerhouse that looks and drives the part. We’re talking 350 horsepower of fun with a Drift Mode button. That should make any enthusiast’s heart skip a beat. The unexpected part of the Focus RS is how well it serves as a daily driver.
Powered by a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine, the Focus RS has 350 lb-ft of torque to match its horsepower. That beats out the Subaru WRX STi with 290 lb-ft, so yeah, those guys are going to look at your ride and wish they’d made a different choice. It’s paired to a 6-speed manual that lets you take advantage of every ounce of power under that hood.
There are four drive modes of Normal, Sport, Track, and Drift. The comfortable mode and the one you’ll want when the road is the least bit bumpy is Normal. The Focus RS is tuned for performance so even Normal provides plenty of fun, but it also offers a softer suspension and more mild-mannered throttle response for daily driving.
Sport turns up throttle response, stiffens the suspension, and gives you a throaty exhaust note that is absolute perfection. Try it as you head down the highway onramp and you’re guaranteed to smile. Find your way to a track for Track and Drift Mode so you can push the Focus RS to the limit of your skills. If you want to play, the Focus RS is ready.
The trade-off with buying a car that’s this much fun is usually its lack of everyday usability. They’re generally tight on space and creature comforts. The Recaro seats up front are snug, though comfortable unless you’re on the larger side. The rear seats, however, are a pleasant surprise.
There’s enough room for two adults to sit back there without having their knees mashed. Those seats are also supportive and comfortable rather than feeling like glorified pieces of plywood. The Focus RS has plenty of room for the kids. You can be soccer mom or commuter dad during the week and let loose on the weekend at the track.
It also provides plenty of cargo room for groceries, backpacks, or hauling home supplies from the local home improvement store. There is 23.3 cubic feet of room with the seats up or 43.9 when you fold the seats down.
The infotainment system is also top-notch featuring Ford’s SYNC3. If you’ve used older versions of Ford’s infotainment, don’t worry. The new system is leagues ahead and won’t have you wanting to take a hammer to the touchscreen. SYNC3 and a 10-speaker Sony audio system are standard on the RS.
Our tester didn’t include a price on the sticker, but piecing it together online comes up with a price of $35,960. That’s only a smidge more than the Subaru WRX STi at $35,195.
The Ford Focus RS is an attractive package. It lives up to its rally car promise while still providing the features you want in a daily driver at a competitive price.