Ford Focus RS (2016-2018) review - Interior, design and technology
Focus RS gets just enough of a cabin revamp to mark it out from the Focus range
The Focus RS is all about performance, and Ford has given it a suitably aggressive look to mark it out from the rest of the range. At the front there’s a gaping grille that has a secondary air intake below and a pair of inlets on either side. However, the main grille has a big slab of grey plastic across it where the number plate attaches, and while the blue RS badge stands out on it, the front end does look a little awkward.
Further back, there are 19-inch multispoke alloy wheels, or lightweight black forged alloys were available for £595 extra, while deeper sills are added. At the back, the ST’s centre-exit exhaust is replaced by two pipes that protrude from either side of the diffuser, while a towering rear wing is fitted above the rear screen. As standard, the Focus RS comes in Stealth grey, while white was a £250 option, metallic grey and black were £525 and the exclusive Nitrous Blue metallic was £745 extra.
Inside, the Focus RS has been given a few blue bits of trim and RS badges to mark it out from the rest of the Focus range, but the biggest change is a new pair of Recaro sports seats up front. They’re finished in leather and Alcantara with blue detailing if you go for the Nitrous Blue exterior paint. You could also upgrade to slimline Recaro Shell seats for £1,145. These are firmer and offer better support, but like the standard chairs they are set just a little too high.
Car group tests
- Ford Focus ST Track Pack vs Hyundai i30 N: 2023 twin test review
- The best long-term car tests 2022
- Vauxhall Astra vs Ford Focus vs Volkswagen Golf: 2022 group test review
The RS’s dashboard design is largely the same as the Focus ST's, with a large touchscreen on the centre console, while the twin dials in the instrument cluster flank a large trip display and two auxiliary gauges. Like the ST, there’s a set of three additional gauges on top of the dash above the centre console, while the RS adds a Drive Mode button next to the gearlever. The cabin quality is good, with plenty of soft-touch materials, while the layout is easy enough to get along with.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
The Focus RS features a nine-speaker Sony stereo, eight-inch touchscreen and Ford’s much improved SYNC 3 voice control system. It’s a step up on the convoluted menus and poor dash integration of SYNC 2. However, it’s still not the best unit in its class. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity features, though older models may need a software upgrade to have this added to the SYNC 3 system.
Voice control is operated via a button on the multifunction steering wheel, and lets you adjust phone, stereo and climate settings without taking your hands off the steering wheel.
The infotainment system is the same as you’ll find in lower spec Focus models, so it’s easy to pair your phone via Bluetooth, plus you get a USB socket in a centre console cubby to connect your audio device and a DAB radio as standard.
Sat-nav was a £465 option, and again was the same system you’ll find across Ford’s range, with clear mapping, good traffic alerts and user-friendly guidance instructions.
In this review
- 1VerdictWild looks, rocketship speed and sharp handling put the Ford Focus RS at the top of the hot hatchback tree
- 2Engines, performance and driveTurbocharged engine spells scorching performance, while clever transmission delivers incredibly agile handling
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsEcoBoost engine is tuned for performance over emissions, but standard stop-start boosts economy
- 4Interior, design and technology - currently readingFocus RS gets just enough of a cabin revamp to mark it out from the Focus range
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThe Focus RS is practical for a sports car, but fast hatch rivals have more space inside
- 6Reliability and SafetyFocus RS’s mass-market roots mean it should be a dependable sports car