I know everyone loves the Focus RS, and I do too. I just felt like there was something missing last year when I drove a factory fresh 2016 model. It just didn’t have enough for me. I wasn’t exactly sure what enough meant because it was plenty good at a lot of things, but it just didn’t hit the right notes. Now, if you stuff in a few warrantied Ford Performance parts, everything changes.
The folks at Ford Performance massaged more power out of the 2.3-liter turbocharged inline-4 with a cat-back exhaust and a flash tune, which combine to add an extra 20 hp and 26 lb-ft of torque. While still far from crazy, that math adds up to around 370 hp, which is more than enough to make this Focus feel special. The short throw shifter, too, makes it feel sharp and precise — a true driver’s car.
The performance parts from Ford aren’t cheap: the cat-back exhaust costs $1,825, the short throw shifter costs $488, and recalibrating the engine controller sets you back another $620 — add to that the $244 worth of RS wheel center caps and a $50 Ford Performance banner and you’ll add $3,227 onto your brand-new Focus RS. Seems steep, but it’s worth it if you can swing the dough. The RS center caps add four more reminders that you’re driving the RS version of the Focus, bring the total number of RS badges to the neighborhood of 14.
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The new exhaust sounds noticeably different than the stock pipes and allows more burbles to sing into the air. The short throw shifter is precise, with great feedback as you hit the gears. It’s so good that the folks at Ford should consider adding this as standard equipment…along with the recently announced Drift Stick.
While the performance parts add some flair to the Focus RS hatchback’s pedigree, they can’t compensate for some of the RS’s shortcomings. The turning radius is still poor, the suspension is almost too stiff and the seat is still too high to be comfortable. Those are the lumps you take for driving Ford’s hottest-ever hatch.
You might have more fun-per-dollar in a Mustang since this rings in at around $43K, but if you’re looking for a performance car with just enough extra parts to make it feel special, that can rip through the snow as viciously as it chews up tarmac, it’s impossible to discount the Ford Focus RS. However, with the years and years of performance parts available for various Subaru Impreza WRX STI’s, you won’t be the only high-performance hooner in your neighborhood.
On Sale: Now
Base Price: $36,775
As Tested Price: $43,482
Powertrain: 2.3-liter DOHC turbocharged I4, AWD, six-speed manual transmission
Output: 370 hp; 376 lb-ft of torque
Curb Weight: 3,459 lb
Options: Nitrous blue quad-coat ($695.00), Equipment Group 600A — including Michelin Super Sport summer tires, 19-inch painted alloy wheels ($2,785.00)
Pros: The short shifter, cat back exhaust and aftermarket tune really alter the stock Focus RS character
Cons: The price of the parts makes the already-pricey Focus RS an even bigger hit to your pocketbook