With the exception of the Mustang, Ford presently offers no cars in its American lineup. Today’s Nice Price or No Dice Focus RS is a reminder of what the company’s present truck-forward market approach is sorely lacking. Let’s see if it’s priced for a very quick trip down memory lane.
It seems like many of the comments on yesterday’s 1985 BMW 635CSi began with the word “regrettably.” Of those who weighed in, most loved the classic coupe, but few could get past its somewhat age-worn and forlorn condition, at least not at a $10,500 asking. The end result was, regrettably, a 57 percent No Dice loss.
Just like the station wagon, the coupe, and… well, pretty much anything that’s not some sort of SUV or crossover, the hot hatch here in the U.S. is going the way of the Dodo. These sporty and practical haulers are still a factor elsewhere, with new versions of cars like Ford’s Fiesta ST, The Leon from Seat’s Cupra sub-brand, and Peugeot’s 308 all debuting refreshes for the upcoming model year. In stark contrast, we’re limited to just the Mazda 3 turbo and Volkswagen’s GTI and Golf R models here in the States. I may be forgetting one or two others, but that just goes to show how little play they get in the market.
Ford once played in this sandbox, back before going whole-hog on trucks and such. It wasn’t all that long ago that the company offered not one but three hot hatches in its U.S. lineup and all three were all pretty dang fun. The Fiesta ST that still growls around Europe was the smallest of the trio, while above that sat the similar spec Focus ST. At the top of the heap, seeking to do battle with the likes of VW’s Golf R and Subaru’s hot, but not-a-hatch, WRX, was the Focus RS. That car plied the storied model designation that was first applied to a rally-going Escort model back in 1969 and built by Ford’s European motorsports division. The Focus RS carried on that tradition. Ford may not be selling these AWD spoiler-fests new here anymore, but thanks to the pre-owned market, we still can get our grubby little mitts on them.
This 2016 Focus RS represents the designation’s first appearance on a U.S. model. That RS badge isn’t just for show here either. Vacking up the badge, the top Focus rocks a 350 horsepower 2.3 liter four that is very similar to the one in the contemporary EcoBoost Mustang. That’s paired with a six-speed manual transmission and an AWD system that employs a complex limited-slip differential up in the front and a Haldex clutch pack on each axle in the back. That setup can transition 100 percent of the applied torque to one side or the other, wherever traction is needed. As fitted, these are a hoot and a half to drive with any gusto. Turn on “Drift Mode” and suddenly the car is an entirely different beast.
Now, that all fun didn’t come without some teething pains. The 2016 Focus RS is a bit notorious for having head gaskets that go bump in the night. This was caused by the installation of an incorrectly ported gasket and could cause overheating and eventual gasket failure. Ford issued a fix for affected cars and the problem was eventually solved with an inline part change on the production line.
The good news is that the head gasket on this Nitrous Blue over black RS has already been upgraded. At least that’s what the seller says in the ad. Of course, there would be paperwork to back that claim up. Better check that out. Along with the head work, this RS benefits from an aftermarket Blow Off Value (BOV) and comes with both winter and summer tires with both sets on factory wheels.
Per the ad, the passenger door has a small ding, but it’s not noticeable in the pics. The rest of the bodywork looks to be in fine shape with just some questionable decals that might need to go. Stepping inside, things look just as nice and it’s always rewarding to slip into a real Recaro bucket seat since those always portend fun. Seriously, has there ever been a dull car fitted with Recaro thrones? Everything save for the vent-mounted cell phone holder is factory here, and that’s one place where the RS’s Focus roots show through. It’s well-equipped for a small car, but some of the materials here can come across as chintzy. Did I mention the Recaro seats? Those are nice.
There are a modest 41,900 miles on the odo and the seller claims to be an adult male and the original owner. That starts to make the ad feel like a Tinder listing, but I guess it’s good to know that the car wasn’t owned by some flat cap-wearing yahoo or Travis Scott. That adult ownership may not be reflected in the car’s decals, but is so in the clean title. Lots of RS models on the market today are not so fortunate.
Perhaps more fortunate will be this car’s new owner. At $34,500, this is neither the cheapest RS on the market nor is it the most ridiculously expensive. We’ll just have to see if you think that adult seller has set an equally adult price.
What do you say, is this last — and hottest — of Ford’s American-market hot hatches worth that $34,500 asking as it sits? Or, does that price put this RS well out of financial focus?
H/T to RevUnlimiter for the hookup!
Help me out with NPOND. Hit me up at email@example.com and send me a fixed-price tip. Remember to include your Kinja handle.