Why you need to buy a Ford Focus RS
At first glance you don’t start to appreciate the significance of the Mk3 Focus RS until you start to dive deeper in to in lineage. Yes by the looks you can tell it is something special but why is it special? For that we got to go way back to 1970 when Ford first starting experimenting with their Rally Sport models. The first being the RS1600. A car that is beloved by rally enthusiasts young and old and holds a very special place in Fords RS history. The rs1800 racked up an impressive 30 wins between the 6 years of 1975 to 1981.The group B rally monster RS200 was cited as being the catelisk for significant rules changes to the sport to greatly enhance its safety. Whilst the Sierra RS Cosworth was dominating the race track in the same era. The RS named returned to rally racing in the early to mid 90s with the outgoing Escort RS Cosworth. So how does this tie in to the Focus? Where did that start? It starts in 2002. With 4501 Mk1 Focus RS that was a front wheel drive 2 litre turbocharged monster with clever differentials that was notorious for torque steer. Ford did rally a 4wd version but that version was essentially a completely different car. This started off the Focus RS trend for wider body kits and a far more aggressive stance over its more conventional hatchback offerings. With its evolution in to the mk2 you can see where the mk 3 starts to get its looks. The larger wing on the roof and the huge bumper at the front it really did push the limit of what is possible for a front wheel drive car which is partially why Ford decided to revert back to all wheel drive for the mk 3. Some 20 years after they had been doing it back in the RS escort cosworth.
We will start by looking at the outside and in particular the body kit. It sits wider than the standard Focus and that is probably a good thing. It needs to be able to accommodate those wide tyres. Which are michilin cup 235s for as much grip as possible they are hugging the 19 inch satin black forged alloy wheels, In every colour option Ford offered the combination looked incredible. Now back to the body kit, it is entirely functional unlike some rivals. The vents at the front actually channel air into the engine bay. The rear diffuser aides with rear stability and the wing on the back of the roof helps keep it planted. Ford have kept a balancing between adding functional aero without going over top, unlike one of its Japanese rivals. Ford have installed a Quaife limited slip differential which reduces the amount of torque steer and increase stability. Their efforts have paid off tremendously.
On the inside and more specifically the rear you find the rear bench that is taken out of a standard Focus, nothing particularly noteworthy there. You do have rear electric windows and you do seat behind a pair of bucket seats, you really want to be up front. Up front you a greeted with a grippy steering wheel that is straightened out on the middle. The bucket seats are also an extra addition not found in the normal focus. You can see how pronounced the bolstering is and they are designed to keep you firmly in the seat when you are driving around a track or tight and twisty back roads. At first glance everything is where you expect it to be, however there is 3 additional gauges sat on top of dashboard in the centre above the infotainment unit. Each gauge displaying information that is vital to driver. Engine temperature, turbo boost pressure and oil pressure. Information that you really ought to know in a performance vehicle. The actual infotainment screen is lifted straight out of the focus, it does have a unique start up sequence displaying the Focus RS with a giant RS logo. The boost space is 260 litres but we will quickly gloss over that as that is perfectly big enough for a weekend away, and honestly what more do you really want? You will be pleased to hear that the rear seats do indeed fold down.
The engine bay sits the powerful 2.3 litre 4 cylinder which has been tuned to 350 BHP and 475 NM of torque. Plenty of might in a small unit. It gives it enough grunt to propel the Focus RS to 60 in 4.7 seconds and keep it going to a top speed of 165 MPH. A gentle remap ought to transform those figures to a low 4s 0-60 and push the top end to at least 180 MPH. Whilst the engine is the same unit lifted out of the ecoboost mustang it does produce more power as it has been breathed on by Cosworth of Northampton. The effort of Cosworth meant an extra 40 BHP has been squeezed out of the unit. The performance Fords have always had a huge cult following and their is a wide variety of aftermarket specialists who can help you take your car to the next level.
Whilst I never actually drove the car I can talk about it from a passengers point of view. With launch control engaged it will push right back in to the seat on hard acceleration. The owner informs me that a new clutch cost £700 so use launch control sparingly. With an annual road tax of £235 and being in an insurance group of 40 which is one of the most expensive groups to insurance in. Realistically you will do about 25 MPG combined. To join the Mk 3 RS club you will need to pay at least £23,000 which would suggest that the car has lost £9,000 in the 3 years since launch due to depreciation, that would make a good time to buy in as the curve shallows. If this was a long term ownerships you could even make more back when you do come to resell if we were to take a historic look at both the Mk 1 and Mk 2. I found several examples of each for sale above their original purchase price. This is even true when you go back to the Escort and Sierra Cosworth vehicles too with Escort RS Coswoth going for about £50,000 and Sierra Coswrth RS500 for over £65,000. The Mk 3 did come with a very limited edition Heritage edition, a limited run of 50 cars that cost £40,000 new that are now selling for £65,000 + after just one year. The point is depreciation is probably the least of your concerns.
Overall there is a very strong case for anyone looking for a performance car to have this near the top of your considerations. Especially in Nitrous Blue, the signature colour of the Focus RS which will be best for your residuals and ultimately collecterbility in years to come. No matter which generation of Focus you chose you can guarantee that you will be left more than satisfied.