2016 Ford Focus RS review: By the numbers, and a ‘greater than’

2016 Ford Focus RS

2016 Ford Focus RS

Two numbers to know for the 2016 Ford Focus RS: 350, and 40,000. The first is horsepower, the second is price. Yes, repeat: 350 horsepower, and rounding up a few bucks, $40,000 US.

Let that sink in for a moment. A Ford Focus, Ford’s compact—in this case, five-door hatchback—that makes more horsepower than any other Ford passenger car capable of reasonably seating four people.

So that was more numbers: Five-doors and four people..

Want more numbers. How about:

2016 Ford Focus RS interior

The 2016 Ford Focus RS interior is plain but business-like.

Two-point-three: engines size in liters. Or 2261 in cubic centimeters. Two overhead cams, one turbocharger, two exhaust outlets, one neat exhaust note. And it doesn’t matter where in the rev range. It’s throbbing at lower rpm, a wail at higher engine speeds, all dependent on how hard the throttle pedal is pushed. The engine has a temporary overspeed, allowing the engine to rev past the normal limiter for three seconds, and the engine also gets 20 seconds of overboost for extra torque for, as Ford puts it, passing another vehicle or taking hard off the line.

345: That’s lb-ft. in overboost. Max torque spreads from 2000 to 4500 rpm, and that means instant acceleration without having to keep the engine, as they say, on the boil. Winding road with blind corners? Use second or third gear, midrange rpm and dig out of the curve. It’s so satisfying.

2016 Ford Focus RS gauge pod

The 2016 Ford Focus RS has a gauge pod on the dashtop…but the dials need to be bigger to be readable.

91: The Focus RS requires 91-octane premium fuel. The power doesn’t come free.

19 and 25: EPA fuel economy estimate, mpg city and highway.

19.8 and 22.2: Observed fuel economy, overall and highway. Obviously we didn’t drive hard enough to make the overall fuel economy number lower, but we certainly kept the revs up—as in third gear and down to second for the tighter turns—when driving on our narrow twisting roads.

2016 Ford Focus RS shift knob

The 2016 Ford Focus RS is available with a six-speed transmission, with blue lettering on the shift knob.

13.9: The Focus RS has a larger fuel tank, specially fit around the RS’s “Twinster” rear differential and rear subframe. Front-drive Foci have a 12.4 gallon tank. The 13.9 gallon tank gives back range the RS engine takes away.

Four: Or more accurately, all-wheel drive, Dynamic Torque Vectoring, which distributes torque as needed and as each wheel and tire is able to accommodate the forces. Power can be sent 100 percent to the rear wheels, and transferred 100 percent between right and left rear wheel, thanks to electronically-controlled clutches in the Twinster differential.

One: The Ford Focus RS is capable of 1.0 g’s in lateral (cornering) force. Credit sport-tuned strut front/multi-link rear suspension. Optional ultra high performance tires increase that.

2016 Ford Focus RS seats

The 2016 Ford Focus RS has form-fitting Recaro sport seats…if your form is skinny.

Two: Two setting for shock firmness, street or track/smooth road. Street is stiff. Pavement irregularities will become close personal friends, or at least acquaintances, and wavy highway surfaces can set up harmonics like a barber shop quartet, and just as annoying. The track setting, however, on anything but truly smooth road gives a ride like an ill-kept wooden roller coaster. Driving off pavement—the Focus RS is rally capable—will be best in normal mode for the suspension compliance over the rough surfaces. And no, we didn’t try it. Really, no rally.

Four: Electronic drive mode setting include normal, sport, track, and a special drift mode. In normal mode, stability control and traction control are fully enabled, shocks are in normal mode. Enthusiasts will opt for sport mode—and have to select it every time the car is restarted because the car defaults to normal. In sport, suspension and stability control remain in normal mode, but exhaust gets louder, steering firms up, and engine tune and all-wheel drive switch over to sport mode. Track is for track day. The traction control is disabled, including with throttle intervention, while stability control is set to a reduced nanny mode. Drift mode is just what it sounds like, optimized for drifting, reducing braking in the stability control system, but increasing torque shift to the rear for “controlled oversteer drifts.” Ford doesn’t recommend it for street use. Yes, they had to say that.

  • johnrider

    You tell someone there’s a Focus that costs $40,000 and they don’t believe it. Then you tell them that there’s a Focus with 350 horsepower and they don’t believe that either. But if you tell them there’s a $40,000 Focus that makes 350 horsepower, they believe that…sort of.