The Ford Focus RS was released back in 2002 it came with a host of features not found on other Focus models and is capable of a very competent performance on the race track. The steering is gives plenty of feedback and the car displays extremely good body control.
The Focus RS was launched in October of 2002 with Ford stating that they would build 4501 examples. Of this number approximately 3000 came to the UK. The Focus RS models were individually numbered but the last cars, from 2500 onwards,were not always numbered in sequence.
The Focus RS was only available in one colour, Imperial Blue and the RS was not available with any extra options.
However there are two phases of Focus RS the "Phase 2" cars had additional stitching at the base of the front seats to prevent them sagging (this can be added retrospectively by a Ford Dealer) a pink grommet on the throttle cable (which reduces vibration), engine start written around the starter button and the removal of the dimmer on the clock.
More importantly the Phase 2 cars came with an updated dated engine map. The first map being called AE, the more recent, AF. The new map improved fuel economy, drivability and starting. Ford dealers are able to upgrade the early cars to the more recent map but we don't know of the costs involved. When buying a Ford Focus RS be sure that you ask the seller if this map upgrade has been carried out.
Ford states that the "minimum" power output of the 2 litre power unit to be at least 212bhp with some owners finding outputs to be as much as 230bhp.
History is important with the Focus RS as with all high performance cars. In addition to an up to date servicebook it is important to find out how the car has been used. Cars which have been used regularly for track work will obviously feel more sloppy than examples which have been used as second cars. The latter situation being the ideal car to buy. The good news with the Focus RS is that they are very reliable cars with very little going wrong with them.
The engine in the Ford Focus RS is badged as a Duratec although the engine is actually a Zetec E unit as found elsewhere in the Ford Focus range. The engine is strong with no failures being recorded on unmodified examples and the same can be said for the Garrett GT 2560 SG turbo. Due to the engines tunability there are a large number of modified cars on the road, with the standard engine internals and turbo being able to cope with up to 280bhp. The Superchips Bluefin is a popular route for "chipping" the Focus RS with may owners also fitting performance air filters, induction kits, tubular exhaust manifolds, performance exhaust systems, upgraded turbos, larger intercoolers and charge coolers. There are some RSs quoting a power figure of 400bhp. These engines are no longer made by Ford so care should be taken not to damage the engine, with a new turbo coming in at 1000 pounds. Like all Ford Zetec engines, they are very sensitive to the engine oil that is used, the recommended oil is 10w30 semi synthetic or for hard driving and track days/track use 10w40 fully synthetic. Coolant leaks are common in particular around the thermostat housing and this indicted by pink stains. Some owners have found the bonnet lining coming away from the skin.
The Ford Focus RS comes as standard with a big bore stainless steel system and from the cat back it hasn't caused any problems, although quite a few owners have fitted an aftermarket performance exhaust system to make the engine more vocal and to release a few extra horses. Milltek and Mongoose performance exhaust systems are a popular choice, which are also lighter than the standard system, at least in the case of the Milltek sport system. The cat can be problematic especially if an atmospheric dump valve is installed as this richens the Air/Fuel ratio with the unburnt fuel entering the cat. Ford charge over 800 pounds for a new cat but an aftermarket sports cat can be bought for approx 450pounds or a de cat pipe can be fitted for 160 pounds. Although a cat will need to be fitted for the MOT, the de cat pipe gives a noticeable power increase.
Gearbox and Clutch
The gearbox has not displayed any inherent weakness and has been found to be tough and reliable. Basically its the same MTX-75 5 speed unit as found in the rest of the Ford Focus range. However the internals have been uprated with shot peening and the gear ratios have been changed along with the gasket for the bell housing. A few high mileage gearboxes have had first or reverse selection problems but this has usually be tracked down to poor gear selector adjustment or the gearbox being over filled with oil. The clutch is constructed by AP Racing and feels quite heavy to use but should last 40,000 miles if not abused.
The wheel track on the Focus RS is the same as that found on the Focus WRC car. The Focus RS has increased negative camber and an 18mm roll bar is used in conjunction with Sachs racing dampers. Despite the stresses subjected on the suspension it copes with all but the most extreme situations. The bushes wear out faster than you might expect and this is noticeable as "knocks" over bumpy surfaces.
Wheels and Tyres
The Ford Focus RS comes with lightweight OZ Racing 5 spoke wheels and due to the widened track it is common to find kerb damage to the wheel rim. Look for poor quality repair work to kerbing damage. The tyre size found on the Focus RS is 225/40 R18 with the standard brand being Michelin Pilot Sport, these tyres are no longer available as they has been superseded by the Micheline Pilot Sport 2. The tyres can take a lot of punishment if the car is driven hard and therefore can wear out quickly, fortunately 225/40-18 is a common size so tyres are reasonably cheap Black Circles list tyres from 70-160 pound a corner mail order.
As a weight saving measure the Focus RS does not come with a spare wheel, instead there should be a polystyrene blank where the spare wheel usually is with a recess for a Ford tyre foam puncture repair kit.
On the front the Focus RS uses Brembo 4 pot calipers with 324mm diameter with the rear using the Focus ST170 set up. Pads can wear out quickly if the car is driven hard but the brake pads are not massively expensive. As aftermarket performance brake pads can be fitted for less than the Ford replacements most people choose to upgrade, with the Ferodo DS2500 being a popular compound costing approx 100 pounds for a front axle set. Cars used regularly on track days use uprated brake fluid but for day to day use the Ford brake fluid is more than adequate. A big brake upgrade kit is available for the Focus RS from AP Racing and this uses 6 pot calipers and floating discs.
The Focus RS has a front splitter mounted to the bottom of the front bumper which can easily be damaged on kerbs and bumps. A replacement is 300 pounds from Ford. The paint work on the RS is quite soft so is vulnerable to stone chips so its not uncommon to find re spray work being carried out on examples with over 20,000 miles. The rear wheel arches came with a plastic film cover to protect from stone chips although this can become quite tatty over time, some owners decide to remove it completely although replacement film is available from Ford for 50 pounds
Some examples can be found for sale at 12,500 but these are usually unloved, good examples start at 14,000 and go up to 17,500 for a low mileage last of the line example.