by Mihnea Radu, 3rd February 2015
RS Fords really don't come around that often, no matter what Ford marketing executives may promise. And this all-new Focus RS, the third such model ever made, is even more special than the two that came before because it's the first AWD. With the horsepower wars being waged by Ford, Renault and VW Group, it was only a matter of time before the front wheels were overwhelmed.
Thus, the 2016 Focus RS is the first to adopt an all-wheel drive system benefiting from dynamic torque vectoring control that can send up to 70% of the torque to the rear or 100% to one side of the car. Complete specs are not available yet, but the 2.3-liter turbo engine is rated at "over 320 hp" and 0 to 60 mph times will fall somewhere between 4.5 and 5 seconds. That's Porsche Boxster territory!
Of course, that also means that Ford will have to deal with altogether more competent rivals, the first of which is the Golf 7 R, which has been around for over a year. It too uses a four-cylinder turbo engine and all-wheel drive, but because it's smaller 2-liter, the output is only 300 PS, 292 if you're looking at the US market model.
The old Focus RS Mk2 could eat the Golf R of its time (R32) for breakfast without even having all-wheel drive, so around a track, Ken Block's car will eat the Germans for breakfast. Realistically speaking though, ver few VW fans will be tempted by the Focus for two big reasons: it doesn't have the same build quality and it's not as easy to live with. Believe it or not, but this hatch can get to 100 km/h in 4.9 seconds AND consumes just 5.9 liters of fuel per 100 km combined, thanks to selectable driving models.
For a much more worthy adversary, Ford need only ask around Audi's parking lot. Their brand new RS3 still uses the 5-cylinder turbo setup, which they dropped. With 367 PS, a reworked quattro all-wheel drive system and the standard 7-speed S tronic gearbox, the Rennsport A3 blitzes 100 km/h in only 4.3 seconds.
As if this 3-way battle wasn't complicated enough to analyze, we have to look at the price as well, which of course will vary depending on the market. In Germany, the RS3 will sticker for €56,600 while a DSG-equipped Golf R is more reasonable at €41,000.
No official pricing information about the Ford is available at the moment, but the 2016 Focus RS will hit dealerships early next year at $37,900, making it slightly more expensive than the Subaru WRX STI and the $36,595 2015 Golf R (US-spec).
If money is no object, the Audi RS3 is the one to have, but those living in America aren't allowed to buy it and Ford's track toy may be an awesome substitute. Plus it comes with a pure-hearted manual gearbox!
2016 Ford Focus RS vs Golf R and Audi RS3 - Hyper Hatch Photo Comparison - autoevolution