Review: Ford Focus RS long-term report

Review: Ford Focus RS long-term report
Review: Ford Focus RS long-term report

Hot Ford meets an ancestor, travels to Wales and gets its first service

We’ve had a busy month with our Ford Focus RS, with activities including its 12,500-mile service, a comparison drive against its old five-cylinder RS forebear and a jaunt to Wales for a serious thrash against a more contemporary stablemate.

That service first – and a lesson learned that shopping around is always a very wise move. Our test car went back to Ford for its annual health check, but to see what costs a real-world owner would face, we rang around a few dealers to get the price of a basic oil and filter change – something that isn’t even Focus RS specific. Quotes ranged from £175 to a bonkers £423. In comparison, a Civic Type R is £190 wherever you go, the fixed minor service price for a petrol Honda.

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Next we took the Focus for a comparison drive against an old five-cylinder RS. The advances the model has made over the past few years were highly apparent, and very interesting. The older, lighter machine didn’t feel any slower, and its styling even made the new car look a bit plain. Of course, it couldn’t match the latest model’s more responsive, revvier engine, higher-tech suspension and super-modern cabin.

Next we went to Wales, to pitch the Focus RS in a back-to-back with the revised ST. It was nice to be reminded about what a thoroughly decent hot hatch that car is, thanks to its pleasing combination of speed, refinement and entertainment, and its consistently high scores in all departments. Nor does it exhibit some of the frustrations of its more full-on brother…

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No one is disputing the Focus RS’s incredible ability to consume tarmac and eat up B-road corners with consummate precision, while the high-set driving position is superbly appealing too. But it struggles to combine those more exciting elements with day-to-day practicalities that should be the hallmark of any half-decent hot hatch. It’s not especially roomy inside, the ride is wearing and it costs more at the pumps than we’d hoped.

Categorising the Focus RS isn’t easy. It’s down on the refinement factor compared with the VW Golf GTI, but is less exciting than the Civic Type R or Renault Megane. We’re going to see if, over time, that makes it the perfect compromise or merely caught between the two schools without the best bits.

 

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