We like: The smile you get while hucking it.
We don’t like: Its spine-chipping ride quality, Drift mode, and its single dimension.
Thought experiment: Think about your favorite hamburger. Juicy, deluxe, piled high with all the fixings, with spicy mustard, blue cheese, grilled onions, you name it. Sounds good, right? Now imagine eating it for breakfast. Every day.
The clumsy but tasty metaphor we’re trying to illustrate is that on a back road, the Ford Focus RS is one of the most capable asphalt-attack vehicles we’ve driven. If the road twists enough, only the Nissan GT-R or Porsche Turbo S could keep up. Trouble is, police-free back roads are scarce.
The RS didn’t work at Hyundai’s proving ground and wouldn’t have on most of the Tehachapi loop. Angus MacKenzie’s opening salvo: “A crude, one-dimensional performance car lacking nuance and finesse. Buy a Camaro 1LE instead. It doesn’t need a Drift mode.”
MacKenzie wasn’t alone. See, the suspension is stiff. Like really weirdly, uniquely stiff. “The chassis sign-off guys earn dunce caps,” Frank Markus said. As a result of that stiffness, the RS struggled on Hyundai’s winding track. From Ed Loh: “It bounces around like a pogo stick.” From Mark Rechtin: “It feels like a bucking bronco.” From Alisa Priddle: “You bounce straight up and down.” You get the idea, especially at $36,775.
The good points? Great seats and interior layout. The sticky tires and trick Twinster AWD system provide for absolutely massive levels of grip. But Loh noted that “Drift mode is really more like Donut mode. It does not get the tail out in the traditional rear-drive sense.” Which kinda ruins its raison d’être.
“Barrels of fun,” Scott Evans summed up, “but not a contender.”
|2016 Ford Focus RS|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$42,245|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door hatchback|
|ENGINE||2.3L/350-hp/350-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3,417 lb (59/41%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||172.8 x 71.8 x 58.0 in|
|0-60 MPH||4.5 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||13.3 sec @ 103.3 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||104 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||1.02 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||24.0 sec @ 0.81 g (avg)|
|REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB||Not tested|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||19/25/22 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||177/135 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.91 lb/mile|