Taking Focus RS to the limit one more time

Riley Riley

What is it?

Ford’s fire-breathing Focus RS. It’s the same colour and similar to the RS we drove a few months back, except this one is the limited edition. That means it gets some extra goodies, including a Quaife trick diff — but of course it all comes at a price. Being a limited edition, it’s also restricted to 500 examples — so you’d better be quick.


What’s it cost?

The Limited Edition goes for $56,990 before on-roads costs, $6000 more than a standard RS (not a word that really applies to the car).

The RS comes with all the usual mod cons, including leather, climate air, Recaro seats, auto engine stop-start, nine-speaker audio, 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, along with natural language voice control for phone, music, climate and navigation controls.

What it doesn’t get is side airbags because of the Recaros and does not qualify for a five-star safety rating, although the limited edition adds autonomous emergency braking.

For the extra dough the Limited adds:

  • Quaife limited-slip front differential
  • Performance Wheel Pack including 19-inch forged alloy wheels with 235/35R19 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres
  • Active City Stop (Autonomous Emergency Braking)
  • Recaro shell seats with exclusive Nitrous Blue leather application
  • Nitrous prestige paint
  • Rear hatch-mounted spoiler, mirror caps and roof finished in Absolute Black
  • Privacy glass

There are are no further options available.


What’s it go like?

The Focus RS is a blast to drive.

It goes hard, with plenty of snap, crackle and pop on throttle overrun and feels like it’s worth every cent of the $60,000 bucks it’s probably going to cost to put on the road.

The 2.3-litre turbocharged four produces a whopping 257kW of power and 440Nm of torque, the latter between 2000 and 4500rpm — with 470Nm available briefly through overboost.

The turbo powerplant is mated to a slick six-speed manual transmission, with drive to all four wheels, adjustable dampers and an active torque vectoring system.

An automatic is not offered.

Selectable drive modes include a politically incorrect “drift” mode, which helped the car make the news on its release, as well as launch mode — although both are probably best left to the track.

With torque vectoring the split of torque not only varies between the front and rear wheels, but also between opposing wheels which helps it get around corners like it’s on rails.

Then there’s the Quaife limited slip front differential, which takes the package to a new level — although truth be told few drivers will ever appreciate the difference.

Unlike a conventional plate-style diff, this one relies on gears rather than clutches for its operation.

This makes it smoother and means it will not lockup with a clunk, as torque is automatically directed away from the spinning wheel.

The Focus RS trully is a piece of work, from its knockout Nitrous blue paint job, to the black wheels, matching blue calipers  and massive rear wing.

We took the car for a blast along our favourite stretch of winding mountain road, keeping a sharp eye out for you know who.

The clutch and gear change are surprisingly easy to use.

With quick, direct steering and lots of lovely mid-range oomph, it makes all the right noises and is an extremely satisfying car to drive — but somehow you always wind up sitting behind someone.

The massive Brembo brakes allow braking deep into corners with complete confidence, while the Michelin tyres are the same rubber they fit to the Ferrari 458.

Sounds impressive, but they’ll cost a bundle to replace.

Not once did we manage to get the RS out of shape.

The only problem we encountered and it was a minor one, was a tendency to drag our left foot on the clutch pedal — maybe because of its position or lack of room in the footwell.

Oh, and prying the blue beauty out of the hands of Mrs Riley turned out to be problematic, after she declared that she liked  the car — a lot — even though it’s what she’s usually apt to refer to as a “boy’s” car.

I give up.

Rated at 8.1L/100km, we were getting 11.0 after 335km and it prefers 98 strength premium. We were however driving it to hear the throaty roar of the engine.


What we like?

  • Looks
  • Five-doors
  • Engaging to drive
  • Snack, crackle and pop from exhaust
  • Ver strong performance
  • Brakes hard and deep
  • Auto emergency braking
  • Outstanding bang for your buck


What we don’t?

  • Not much
  • No auto option
  • High sided Recaros uncomfortable
  • Claustrophobic rear seat
  • No rear air outlets


The bottom line?

It’s really a toss up betwen the Focus RS and Honda Civic Type R. They’re both amazing cars to drive, although the Civic feels more forgiving and a little easier to drive. Or you could save a bundle and buy a Swift Sport – it’s not in the same league but still a ball of fun to drive.

Ford Focus RS Limited Edition, priced from $56,990
  • Looks - 8.0/10
  • Performance - 8.5/10
  • Safety - 7.5/10
  • Thirst - 7.0/10
  • Practicality - 7.0/10
  • Comfort - 7.0/10
  • Tech - 8.5/10
  • Value - 8.0/10

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