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Is Buying a Pre-Owned Ford Focus RS a Good Idea?

Published on December 9, 2022 in Pre-owned vehicles by The Car Guide

Compact sport car enthusiasts who hope to get their hands on one of the latest sensations like the Volkswagen Golf R, the Toyota GR Corolla and the Honda Civic Type R must cross their fingers, because availability is limited, and delivery can take a long time. The demand for these models is also amplified by the recent retirement of the Subaru WRX STI.

Luckily, there’s the used vehicle market. And while you’re at it, why not explore all possible avenues? One of them, in case you’ve forgotten about it, is the Ford Focus RS. Sold in Canada for only three model years (2016-2018), it was the only American representative in the small sporty hatchback segment.

A black sheep within the Focus line-up, the RS knew how to ignite passions and give chills with its 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, which produced 350 horsepower and as many foot-pounds of torque. In a car weighing barely 1,600 kilograms, this engine was pure dynamite.

Photo: Frédérick Boucher-Gaulin

Compared to a contemporary Golf R, the ultimate Focus was a lot more wild and explosive (the launch control system and Drift mode helped), and a little more flashy with its big rear spoiler. It also benefited from a complex all-wheel drive that could distribute 70% of the torque to the rear wheels, and 100% of it to the left or right depending on the current conditions.

Of course, it was pretty exciting, but good skills were needed to manipulate the pedals and shifter. In addition, its firm suspension with limited travel made trips in the city and on bumpy roads very uncomfortable, and the Recaro seats were not helping the matter! The Focus RS was essentially designed for the racing track and that’s where it could be exploited to its full potential. You’ve been warned.  

Photo: Ford

Possible Issues

And what about reliability? Of course, buying a pre-owned vehicle like this one is always risky, because the previous owners have inevitably driven it aggressively, causing important stress on various components over time. If it hasn’t been carefully maintained, you could be in for a bad surprise. That’s why a comprehensive inspection of the mechanics and body is even more important here.

The Focus RS’s engine has had its share of issues, including cooling system failures and leaks causing overheating. A replacement was even needed in some cases. The shock absorbers and the heating/ventilation system have also been a problem for many owners.

Finally, the Ford Focus RS was very expensive when it came out (more than $48,000) and you can now expect to pay around $40,000 for a pre-owned model with decent mileage. Also plan a good budget for fuel (you get the stated power with a 93 octane rating, which is not available in all gas stations), and for brakes and tires as well. 

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