The 'Cancellation' Of The Ford Focus RS Could Be The ST's Time To Shine

The next Focus RS may have reportedly been canned, but the new ST is waiting in the wings to pick up the Ford hot hatch baton
The 'Cancellation' Of The Ford Focus RS Could Be The ST's Time To Shine

The last Ford Focus ST lived in the shadow of the mighty RS, and it’s not hard to see why. The RS was an all-wheel drive, giant-killing mega hatch. It was capable of pulling off big, smoky drifts, and was frequently driven in promotional guff by everyone’s favourite goateed tyre shredder, Ken Block.

The RS was the closest thing we’ve ever seen to a resurrection of the Escort Cosworth. For its faults - and there were a fair few - the RS had so much going for it. But the ST? Well, it was cheap and it was quick… and that was about it. Looking at its contemporary rivals, the VW Golf GTI was more complete, the Renault Sport Megane was more engaging, and the FK2 Honda Civic Type R was more exciting. So the arrival of the RS late in the third-gen ST’s life merely highlighted its inadequacy in the hot hatch world.

The 'Cancellation' Of The Ford Focus RS Could Be The ST's Time To Shine

This time around, things are different. For one, the word is that Ford has cancelled the fourth-generation RS, which it apparently deems implausible while it cuts billions of dollars of costs across the board and attempts to comply with tightening emissions rules. Secondly, the Focus ST is a much better car than it used to be.

The old one was a brutish thing, chucking vast amounts of torque through an open-diff front end that just couldn’t cope with the abuse. There was a system that fiddled with the power steering resistance to try and counter the rampant torque steer, but it had all the effectiveness of sticking a Hello Kitty plaster on a gunshot wound. The ride was brutally firm, contributing to a driving experience that was downright frustrating considering the smaller Fiesta ST was as incredible as the Focus ST was disappointing.

With an electronically-controlled differential, the new Ford Focus ST can actually put all of its power down to the road without drama
With an electronically-controlled differential, the new Ford Focus ST can…

The new car is far more sophisticated. There are adaptive dampers that keep the car much more composed and comfortable than before, a clever sort of anti-lag system that recirculates exhaust gasses to keep the turbo spooled when off-throttle, and most importantly, an electronically-controlled differential. Finally, the ST can put its power down without going all Wookie and trying to rip your arms away from their sockets.

It’s still far from perfect, of course; the driving modes aren’t the best judged, and there’s still that annoying sense that it isn’t the upsized Fiesta ST we all want. But it’s a huge leap forwards compared to the Mk3, and with no RS on the way to rain on its parade, now is its time to shine.

Focus ST estate or hatch? The choice is yours. Just avoid the diesel versions of both...
Focus ST estate or hatch? The choice is yours. Just avoid the diesel…

So what if it’ll never have all-wheel drive or Drift Mode? The RS Focus’ oversteer antics were always a bit weird and fake-feeling anyway. And yes, even with an increase in output to 276bhp it’s a long way off the RS in terms of power, but that soon may change.

With a bigger engine in the new ST (a 2.3-litre Ecoboost inline-four, shared with the Mustang and related to the RS mill), there should be more potential to unlock. Famed Ford tuner Mountune has already boosted the ST to 324bhp, which isn’t far off the output of the old RS.

The 'Cancellation' Of The Ford Focus RS Could Be The ST's Time To Shine

We’re moving to the realms of speculation here, but Ford itself may choose to make a more powerful version of the ST further down the line, either at the time of the mid-life update or perhaps via a dedicated model. The company did it with the Fiesta ST200, so why not the Focus? It makes more sense than ever, given that there’ll be no hierarchy implications to consider in the absence of the RS.

The expected loss of an RS for the Focus’ fourth-generation is a shame, there’s no doubt about it. But as a way to fill the void, the ST is already up to the task. And if Ford helps cement the ST’s role as Blue Oval hot hatch king by giving it a little extra spice, then even better.



“And please, please don’t make it a hybrid or electric.”

04/18/2020 - 12:47 |
6 | 4

As an owner of a 2015 Focus ST, I think it really is a great car. I just wish Ford would bring the new generation to the states for when I am looking to trade mine in. The focus RS is a cool car, but here in the states you could get a mustang GT for about the same amount of money, whereas the ST doesn’t cost much more than the equivalent trim base engine focus.

04/18/2020 - 13:24 |
16 | 0
Olivier (CT's grammar commie)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

The focus RS is a cool car, but here in the states you could get a mustang GT for about the same amount of money

Hell, in Canada the last one did cost so much that I believe it was about the same price as a GT350. The MSRP was about $60k-62k, and with taxes the total price was around $70k.

I’ve seen maybe one or two in two years while I’ve seen a dozen of Type Rs and many Golf Rs, and there’s a reason for it: the Focus RS was just so expensive it wasn’t even close to be worth it. Meanwhile, the Type R’s MSRP was $20k cheaper, and same for the Golf R.

I honestly don’t know what Ford were thinking with their pricing, but you could have bought two Ecoboost Mustangs for the price of one RS.

04/20/2020 - 23:04 |
0 | 0

ANOTHER excellent reason to have left the EU - too bad it didn’t happen before the “WLTP-rubbish” laws began.
The left is KILLING the motoring industry. As predicted by many a liberty-loving Patriot…

04/18/2020 - 15:16 |
0 | 18
Mitchell Martin


04/18/2020 - 16:20 |
0 | 0
Shawn Ross-Vidal

As the owner of a Mk3 ST, I feel like a Mk3 RS is a better ownership proposition than a Mk4 ST. These do look great, but I got quotes from my dealer of double my 2017 ST payments for a new one. Fettle an RS with a few Mountune goodies and you’ve got a much more capable car for £30k. Won’t be as good of a cruiser as the Mk4, but if you want that you’ll probably be looking at a VAG alternative.

04/18/2020 - 22:16 |
2 | 0

I hope they will make another RS before I die.

04/20/2020 - 19:31 |
0 | 0

AYO FORD FOCUS SVT/ST170 OWNER HERE WOOO (SVT was the American version of the ST170)

04/26/2020 - 17:04 |
0 | 0



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