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3 Mar 2017

Ford Focus RS



Text and Photos: Reinis Babrovskis

The Ford “RS” brand has always been a benchmark that many automotive manufacturers looked up to; it is highly praised, loved and enjoyed by many. Any model leaving the Ford factory marked with the respectable “Rallye Sport” badge was designed to put smiles on drivers faces. Ford Focus RS was one of them; it is one of the scariest yet one of the most enjoyable hatchbacks out there.

So what makes the "RS" brand so special? For one, probably the fact Ford has always been ahead of the time of their competition, offering sports vehicles with that extra "oomph" and superb driving experience. Ford Focus RS blended right into that category from the very beginning. It may look like a lime, but it has some kick to it, trust me.

Ford Focus RS Mark I was short lived though; released on 2002 only 4501 models were ever made. With each sale of the RS model Ford allegedly lost more than £4000. To be brutally honest, the RS range was nothing more than a showcase of their engineering capabilities.

In 2005 Ford returned with a brand new Focus, so it was only a matter of time before the RS made reappearance. To everybody’s surprise Ford initially returned with a lesser model called the ST. The Sports version of the Focus featured a 2.5 Duratec engine producing astonishing 225hp. In 2007 Ford finally made an announcement about the return of the RS model in 2009. Following the huge success of the bonkers MKI model, MKII had high expectations.

The Ford Focus RS MK II debuted in January 2009. Contrary to many rumours the MKII retained the successful turbo engine, FWD layout and LSD formula. Whilst the ST retained relatively OEM look, RS on the other hand put on some major muscles for the launch. It really is a Hulk on wheels. It still remains as one of the most aggressive sports hatchbacks on the market out there.


The Ford Focus RS MKII was sold at a base price of £24,995 and was available in three colours: Ultimate Green, Performance Blue and Frozen White. Malcolm opted for the marvelous 'Ultimate Green' that was inspired by the classic 1970s Ford Le Mans Green of the Ford Escort RS1600 (best colour for them if you ask me). For a car that actually isn't that exclusive (more than 10,000 units were sold during the 3 years of manufacture and 4,000 were for the UK market) this hatchback has never dropped in value, in fact some of the RS models make more second hand than they were brand new. So what is the secret to this successful model?



The Focus Focus RS is everything I love about the sports hatchbacks - a crazy designer that has been let loose on the drawing board, an insane engineer that is allowed to put a ridiculous engine in a hatchback and a marvelous painter who has chosen a beautiful colour palette for the body of the car. The car has been injected with Botox in every body panel: it looks muscular and screams "I am powerful" to your face. This is everything that modern hot hatches lack - just look at the Golf R for example. When buying a performance hatchback you do expect it to look like one as well. The Focus RS features beautiful archwork at both front and rear, cold air vented bonnet, an extra large WRC style spoiler and rear diffuser. Best of it all - every one of these design features are there for a reason, tested and proven on wind tunnels by the manufacturer.


The Focus RS offered 2 interior packages featuring improved stereo, reverse cameras and other extras. Malcolm's RS is equipped with amazing Recaro leather bucket seats, RS mats, RS metal door plates, as well as beautiful blue stitching on the door panels.


The best part of the Focus RS MK II (as well as the ST) obviously is its heart that is hiding under the bonnet. The second generation models are powered by a 2.5 litre turbocharched Duratec RS engine with a double overhead camshafts and glorious 5 cylinders that sing majestically upon the slightest press of the throttle pedal. Ford used a modified Volvo (cough Audi) engine in both the ST and RS models. The RS received a larger Borg Warner K16 turbo, larger air-to-air intercooler, forged crankshaft, silicon-aluminium pistons, graphite-coated cylinder bores and improved variable valve timing unit. The engine produces 301hp and astounding 440 N·m torque. Despite being quite on the heavy side (1468kg), it takes only 5.9 seconds for the hot hatch to reach the 60mph from a standstill; and keeps going to a maximum of 163mph.

The engine is attached to a beautiful 6 speed manual gearbox and the power is pushed through the front wheels.


To cope with the ridiculous 300hp going through the front wheel drive Ford had to come up with something special. They opted for the Quaife Automatic Torque Biasing Limited Slip Differential along a unique and specially designed MacPherson strut suspension, also called the RevoKnuckle.

And whilst there is no point denying that the car still suffers some torque steer (which is fully understandable with such power), it is relatively minor and doesn't affect the driving capability. The Focus RS MKII is certainly one of a kind hatchback and is a phenomenal car to drive. Having also been selected in the World Rally Championship in both MK I and MK II models there is no surprise Ford really nailed this one. They went as far as to claim "It's as close as you'll come to driving a full spec rally car".

There are many hatchbacks out there, but only a few are ever remembered as the great ones, and this will certainly be one of them.
Ford released a MK III RS model in 2016 and guess what - it is as bonkers as the previous two.

Bonus Images

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