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New Ford Focus RS Edition 2017 review

There is now an even keener Ford Focus RS for those that really want to push their AWD hot hatch to the limits. Is it worth the outlay?

Overall Auto Express Rating

5.0 out of 5

The Ford Focus RS had already proven to be worthy of the mega hatch tag, thanks to its balance of power, agility and value. But Ford Performance reckons that some buyers want even more from their five-door family car. The Focus RS Edition bundles a few choice extras with a new look and limited slip differential – but with only a tiny price hike. With no tangible downside, it makes a good car even better.

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In 2018, Ford will unveil the next-generation Focus family car, which will undoubtedly sound the death knell for the current Focus RS – one of the undisputed hot hatch greats of its generation.

But the RS isn't easing its way into retirement. No, instead there's a new and even more hardcore Ford Focus RS ‘Edition’ to tempt enthusiasts to part with their hard-earned cash. The heart of the new factory-fitted option package is a mechanical limited slip differential for the front axle, made by Quaife.

This enhances the already entertaining GKN Twinster all-wheel-drive system, which retains its rather silly Drift mode. It still can send up to 70 per cent of the engine's output to the rear wheels, but the new front differential automatically sends more torque to the front wheel with the most traction, too.

In the standard car, this is done by applying the brakes to the wheel without grip, which is slower and less smooth in operation. On a soaking wet test track, where we were able to compare the standard RS with the new RS Edition, it was possible to get on the power earlier when exiting a tight corner, making the whole experience subtly more satisfying – and no doubt faster in terms of lap times, too.

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There's more bite to the front end, plus a fraction more stability under hard braking. The differential should be even more effective on tight and twisty roads, wet or dry, though it has to be said that it really only comes into play when you're exploring the outer envelope of the Focus RS's abilities.

For those that plan on taking their Focus RS on track, it's a good investment. But you don't need to be a track day fanatic to appreciate the package, as the extra equipment makes it worth the £36,000 price alone.

A standard Focus costs £32,265. Add to that the RS Luxury Pack, popular Recaro shell front seats, black forged alloy wheels and blue-painted brake callipers, and it'll cost £35,585. The RS Edition comes with all of that, as well as unique RS centre caps for the wheels and exclusive blue leather details to the seats. 

Additionally, it also gets a black roof, door mirrors and rear spoiler, along with a couple of extra fillets of carbon fibre inside. Not the mention the Quaife differential. It doesn't come with a tangible downside, in fact, meaning those looking to spec their new RS with a few options will see serious value in the Edition cars.

Finally, Ford has made excellent Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres available for the Focus RS. They sacrifice wet weather ability (though they’re better than their Pilot Sport Cup predecessors) for more grip in the dry, plus longevity on track. Along with that, they also come with stiffer sidewalls, which results in even more agile handling. That also means reduced comfort, however – not a Focus RS strong point to begin with.

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