So a few weeks back I hinted that I would be doing a comparison review of the Focus RS against the Subaru WRX STI. Admittedly I’ve been a Ford fan my entire life. However, over the past couple years I’ve become fixated on the STI as an all around great driving machine. This love for the STI wasn’t always the case though. In fact, I originally felt that the car was more hype than anything, with its drivers more focused on their next vape or and how flat the brim of their hat could be. That’s when I happened to have an opportunity to take several of these cars for extended test runs – 30 days at a time to be exact. My opinion quickly changed and I honestly thought I had found the perfect daily driver, that mixes day to day functionality with pure beast-like rage bottled up and ready when you want it. I thought this comparison would likely be a slam dunk for the Subaru, but that’s when I sat my lucky buns inside of the Ford Focus RS.
Admittedly I was a little skeptical about the Focus RS before getting in. Why? It’s simple – just saying out loud that you could spend $42k on a Focus is hard to stomach. But after a quick walk around, (and especially after getting in) you realize that there is absolutely zero in common between this car and your typical Ford Focus.
First impression was everything for me. This particular Focus RS was in Stealth Gray, which I happen to find stunning. Then there were the blue accents found tastefully added to the enormous blue Brembo calipers, RS badges, embroidered seat logo, and my favorite – the stitching in the seats themselves. Then I turned the key. This little rocket produces 350 hp packaged inside of an AWD platform! But even better are the driving modes that enable you to match your mood for the day. Switching from normal, sport, track, AND drift modes, you are sure to get that squishy feeling in your gut no matter how aggressive you are feeling in the moment. That’s when the exhaust note hits you right smack in the ear holes. Normal mode sounds just fine, and actually quite impressive for a little sport-compact. But, switch to sport or track modes and the pop and crackle will make you feel like a Le Mans racer. The seat of your pants feel as you switch between each of the modes is incredible especially in comparison to other vehicles with similar “mode” variants.
What surprised me most about the Focus RS? I could not believe the number of thumbs up I got in this car! At times it felt like I was driving my Viper by the sheer reaction of people driving by. Next was the balance between performance while maintaining fuel economy and ease of driving. This car, just makes you feel like a better driver than you perhaps are.
In all, both the Subaru WRX STI and the Ford Focus RS are amazing vehicles. Both are similarly priced, and both are fully capable of being perfect daily drivers. I found myself so impressed with the Focus RS, however, that I decided to dedicate this entire segment just to it. I hope you enjoyed it! Here is are a few of my favorite points along with a couple of the downsides to the Focus RS (in my humble opinion)
- performance. plain and simple this is a beast
- exhaust. Not overly loud, while maintaining a nice growl especially throughout the more performance modes
- braking will put you right through the windshield
- grip and handling
- shift quality is amazing
- sound system, is crisp and clear- that is if you even turn it on instead of just listening to the amazing exhaust
- though I absolutely love the Recaro seats, if you were over 200lbs you likely will find them too restrictive and you will hate the car
- the steering wheel and top of the dash would be much more impressive wrapped in Alcantara
- 2018 models only offer red and blue. While the blue is striking, the Stealth Grey is the best in my opinion
- limited hatch space without laying the seats down