Remember when these had dealer markups?
Back in 2016, the car community took time to celebrate after Ford finally decided to offer the Focus RS in the United States. No Focus RS had ever been sold in the US before that, and unfortunately, with the announcement that Ford will take all of its sedans and hatchbacks off the US market, the next-generation won't be sold here either. It's sad to think of the Focus RS as being one-and-done in the US.
The Focus RS was so coveted when it first arrived in the states that many dealerships slapped a significant markup on them. The owners who paid over sticker must feel pretty silly because just like any other massed-produced hot hatch, the Focus RS has now become a bargain on the used market.
It's hard to undersell the importance of the Focus RS in the US. This car, much like the Honda Civic Type R, was completely unobtainable up until recently and American car enthusiasts had to watch videos of Europeans enjoying them and having all the fun. The Focus ST gave us a great taste of what Ford's European tuning division could do and the RS stepped it up even further with more power, all-wheel-drive, and bolder styling. When this car first arrived on the scene in the US, its only competition was the aging Subaru WRX STI and the Volkswagen Golf R, which is far less dramatic.
Hot hatchbacks are designed to bring speed to the masses but pinnacle models like the Golf R, Civic Type R, and Focus RS aren't exactly cheap. The Focus RS had a starting price of $36,775 back in 2016 and by 2018, the price had ballooned to $41,120. Some greedy dealerships even charged a "market adjustment," so some buyers paid well over $50,000 to have an early example.
If you were patient enough to wait on a used Focus RS, your patience has been rewarded because used examples can now be found starting at around $25,000. There is one major downside to buying a used Focus RS, the ramifications of which are already irreversible. Since not enough people bought one new in the first place, Ford will not offer the next-generation model here in the US. See people? This is what happens when you ask for a car and don't buy one brand-new.
Power comes from a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder dishing out a healthy 350 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque going out to a performance-oriented all-wheel-drive system. Unlike some of its competitors, the Focus RS did not have an automatic option and was instead sold with a six-speed manual only. The sprint to 60 takes just 4.7 seconds and the car can send up to 70% of its power to the rear wheels using a factory 'Drift Mode.' Even three years later, the Focus RS is still one of the best performers in the hot hatch segment.
Ford's small car interiors have never been class-leading but the performance cars like the RS always took the cabin up a notch with unique trim and fittings. The RS can be differentiated from a normal Focus hatchback via its sporty gauge cluster, dash-mounted performance gauges, flat-bottom steering wheel, metal shift knob, blue stitching, and Recaro racing seats. Just a warning on those seats though, they are aggressively bolstered, making the RS a snug fit for larger drivers. Since it's on the top end of the Focus range, it features Ford's excellent Sync3 infotainment system, which also includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The Focus hatchback is a compact car but offers some usable practicality. Rear seat occupants are treated to 33.4 inches of legroom and the trunk offers 23.8 cubic feet of storage. If you fold down the rear seats, storage increases to 44.8 cubic feet. Fuel economy isn't great since this EcoBoost engine leans far more towards the 'boost' half of its name. The EPA rates the Focus RS at 19 mpg in the city and 26 mpg highway. Those looking for a comfortable ride might want to look at the Golf R or Civic Type R instead because the Focus RS is incredibly stiff.
Once a low-end halo product for the Ford brand, enthusiasts have seemingly forgotten about the greatness of the Focus RS. Newer hot hatchbacks like the Hyundai Veloster N and Civic Type R have been stealing headlines while the RS has quietly become a used bargain. You can now purchase a used Focus RS for less than a brand-new Focus ST or a Golf GTI, both of which do not offer the same level of performance. Ford may not offer the next-generation car in the US but don't let the Focus RS be forgotten.