Big news has recently come from Ford, who’s just released its new Ford Focus RS. The Focus RS is the successor to the very popular previous-generation RS, but it’s better in every single way. Its 2.3 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine develops 350 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque and is paired with a six-speed manual transmission driving all four wheels.
The Focus RS is capable of getting from 0-60 mph in 4.7 seconds and even comes with something called a “Drift Mode”. It also has a clever limited-slip differential that can send power to the outside rear wheel through turns So the Focus RS is properly quick and is being raved about by customers and journalists alike, who love its nimble handling and broad powerband. But is it good enough to take down the beloved Volkswagen Golf R and the absolutely excellent Audi RS3?
Well, Auto Express has given all three a spin to find out in this new video review.
The Focus RS does perform as well as advertised and is genuinely fun to drive, according to Auto Express. It’s fast, sporty and dynamic all while making a great noise and looking very cool. It’s the epitome of a hot hatch. Its gearbox is great to use and it feels sharp, something all-wheel drive hot hatches typically have a hard time doing.
In comparison, the Audi RS3 feels more like a brute. Its magnificent 2.5 liter turbocharged 367 hp five-cylinder engine is a gem. It makes the RS3 faster than the Focus RS and it sounds better, too. The RS3’s interior is also head and shoulders above the Focus RS. However, the bigger heavy engine slung over the front axle makes the RS3 feel a bit nose heavy and requires more work to get it around corners. But, wow, is it fast. 0-60 mph in 4.3 seconds and onward up to 155 mph. It’s the fastest car of the test, the most luxurious car in the test, but it’s also the heaviest and the most difficult to coax around corners. So it’s more of a bruiser than a proper hot hatch. Though, it’d definitely be the best in the snow.
The Volkswagen Golf R is a great medium between the two. We’ve long wondered if the Golf R was a better alternative to the Audi S3, as the engine, gearbox and much of the chassis and suspension components are identical while the Golf R is cheaper. So it’s a fantastic deal. But it’s also quite refined and lovely to drive, similarly to many Audis. The Golf R has a much more upscale feel to it than the Focus RS. It even handles very well and is very entertaining to drive. Its 2.0 liter turbocharged engine makes 292 hp and gets from 0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds. So while it’s fun to drive, it’s a bit less exciting than the other two. However it is significantly cheaper than the Audi.
In the end, Auto Express labeled the Ford Focus RS the best car in the test, as it was great fun to drive, fast and exciting and those are the most important metrics in a hot hatch. It also has an incredible all-wheel drive system with very clever diffs and actually does have a nice interior. It’s also very affordable, making it the best overall package.
The Volkswagen Golf R came in second place, as its affordability and “baby-RS3” demeanor allows it to be better value than the RS3. It’s still fun and fantastic to drive, though a bit slow in this company and not as thrilling as either. But an excellent middle ground and fantastic value.
The Audi RS3 unfortunately comes in last. It’s nose-heavy understeer causes it to be less fun and more work than the other two. It’s more all-wheel drive brute than hot hatch. While the RS3’s engine is the best in test and it’s the fastest with the best interior, it’s also the most expensive car by far and not as much fun to drive as the other two. So it’s last in this test, but still a fantastic machine.