Photography by ©2017 Toni Avery
Having previously reviewed the Focus ST and Fiesta ST, I’m familiar with the characteristics you should come to expect with these Blue Oval hot hatches, but I really wanted to see what all the hype was about with the latest Focus from Ford. After just a short week with the RS, I can see why owners and enthusiasts like it so much.
This RS is equipped with a 2.3 L turbocharged inline-4-cylinder engine producing 350 HP and 350 lb-ft of torque mated to a six-speed manual transmission going from 0-60 in 4.6 seconds with stopping power provided by Brembo brakes.
It’s significantly quicker than both the Focus and Fiesta ST variants thanks to its larger displacement engine and all-wheel drive. It feels pretty light when you get up to speed in the RS, while the curb weight tells a different story (3434 lb.). Launch control can be accessed through a menu in the information display and by fulling depressing the throttle and clutch then quickly releasing the clutch launching the car forward as quickly as possible without spinning the rear tires. The transmission was easy to use with light slightly long throws and a mildly notchy feel going into gear.
The RS not only comes with drive modes to adjust throttle and steering response (Normal, Sport, Track and Drift), but also suspension adjustments including Normal and Sport. The suspension settings make a noticeable difference. Normal is the most livable for daily driving while Sport is the roughest and harshest suspension setting. Every little bump and imperfection is felt, but it would be the preferred mode for track use.
As for drive modes, Sport was my most commonly used mode providing better throttle response as well as better sound from the exhaust. Under hard acceleration, the exhaust will release a “brap brap brap brap” that sounds so good. It made me want to wind the car all the way up from every stop. Track turns traction control partially off while Drift mode is the only mode that actually allows the car to rotate (not understeer) under more aggressive driving. It distributes more torque to the rear wheels than the front, allowing it to act like a rear wheel drive car. If you want the car to actually slide, press traction control down longer for it to be shut completely off.
There is a lot of positive about this car, including how fun it is to drive. But if I were to find anything negative it would have to be the torque steer under hard acceleration, poor turning radius and awkward seating position.
After contacting Ford to further investigate the torque steer I felt, it was explained that by switching to Drift or Track modes, torque steer becomes almost non-existent. Also because the car is a high torque vehicle, and being that the car does not use a set front to rear torque bias some torque steer is inevitable.
The turn radius on the RS is not as impressive as it could be. It’s not a small car, but it isn’t big either and it turns like an SUV or small pickup. I partially concluded that it was due to the all-wheel drive system, but it may also be a characteristic of the car.
The exterior of the RS is finished in Nitrous Blue and features 19” painted alloy wheels, wrapped in Michelin Super Sport summer tires, a large rear wing and a more aggressive front end than then ST hatches.
I specifically asked for an RS in Nitrous Blue because it really fits the car. It’s a loud color but not obnoxious and it suits the large wing and lines of the hatch quite nicely. The profile of the RS is probably its best angle…that’s how you can best tell it’s an RS over an ST.
Inside the RS is an all-black interior with Nitrous Blue accents throughout, and Recaro seats.
The interior was the most toned down part of the RS. While I really liked the Nitrous Blue stitching and accents, I felt the all-black and plastic surfaces made it feel cheaper than it is. I absolutely loved the Recaro seats and all the side support they give and how much they hold you in place, but the seating position was an issue for me. In the driver’s seat, I felt as though I was driving a truck or a bus with how high up I was (even in its lowest position). I never found the perfect seating position to where I felt as though I was sitting in the car not on it.
The infotainment system worked as expected from past Ford cars I’ve reviewed. I used Apple CarPlay most of the time and felt the stereo delivered in terms of quality sound.
My overall experience with the RS was great. It was fun to drive to and from work, in traffic and even the autocross I took it to. It’s a great daily and maybe even an only car for someone looking to spend about $40k on a hot hatch they don’t need to do much to.
2017 Ford Focus RS:
Base Price: $35,900
Nitrous Blue, RS2 Package (power/heated mirror,
heated front seats, heated steering wheel, navigation voice activated,
Equipment Group 600A)
Destination Charge: $875
Total Price: $40,255
Fuel Economy: 19 City, 25 Highway, 22 Combined
GirlsDriveFastToo gives the 2017 Ford Focus RS an overall rating of (out of 5 total):