Hero Image Credit: joecampanale.com
If you’re thinking about buying a hot hatch, you’ve probably considered the Ford Focus XR5 Turbo (also called the Focus ST), and the Ford Focus RS. For many driving enthusiasts, these Ford Focus siblings are the definition of what hot hatches ought to be. They are aggressively styled, thrilling to drive, and incredibly powerful; yet still practical, affordable, and fuel efficient enough for daily driving.
The more affordable Focus XR5 Turbo looks every bit like a true hot hatch. It offers genuine performance-car performance and driving dynamics, so it is worth every penny. The Focus RS, on the other hand, cranks up the power and delivers improved handling and traction, but all its additional performance comes at a cost. The Focus RS can cost over 10,000 AUD more than the Focus XR5 Turbo, depending on the model year.
So, which one should you buy? Read on to find the right hot hatch for you.
The XR5 Turbo looks sportier and much more aggressive than the base Focus thanks to its exclusive body kit, which includes performance-inspired, body-colored front and rear bumpers, body-colored side skirts, a diffuser, and a body-colored rear roof spoiler. The XR5 Turbo also features a dynamically sculpted hood, halogen headlamps, fog lamps, an exclusive black honeycomb grille, 18-inch alloy wheels, and dual exhaust pipes (MK3 models feature center-mounted twin exhaust outlets). You can make the XR5 Turbo look even sportier and more aggressive with the right body kit, such as this Maxton Design XR5 Turbo body kit available at AusBody Works.
The Focus RS also has a more dramatic, meaner, yet functional exterior that hints at its superior performance potential. In the front, it features an exclusive, performance-inspired trapezoidal front grille with RS badging, a large lower grille that helps to cool the engine, a front splitter, vertically-mounted fog lights, and large vents next to the fog lights that help cool the brake components. In the rear, the RS kicks it up a notch with a body-colored rear wing that does a great job of generating downforce. It also features a rear bumper with a massive diffuser that effectively optimises the flow of air under the car. The RS also comes equipped with dual, round, high-performance exhaust outlets, and a rear central fog lamp. If you want an even meaner look all-around, try this Maxton Design Focus 3 RS body kit.
Image Credit: webwombat.com.au
The differences between the Focus XR5 Turbo and Focus RS are not as pronounced on the inside as they are on the outside. The structure and design of the gauge cluster, the dashboard, and center console in the Focus XR5 Turbo is almost identical to that of the Focus RS. Both cars’ gauges, infotainment system, and other electronic controls also glow with similar light-blue illumination. Both models also feature three small gauges positioned above the center console that show the car’s oil temperature, oil pressure, and turbocharger boost pressure. Also common to both models is a leather-wrapped, flat-bottomed steering wheel with a soft feel — the only difference being that the RS steering wheel features blue stitching while the XR5 Turbo/ST steering wheel features black stitching.
Both the RS and XR5 Turbo models have well-bolstered RECARO® front sport seats that may be color coded to match the exterior. All RS models display blue ‘RS’ badging on the front seats, but only the MK3 XR5 Turbo models feature front-seat badging. The Focus RS also features standard full leather seat upholstery; while the XR5 Turbo seats may be covered in cloth, partial leather, or full leather seat upholstery, depending on the package options.
This is where the superiority of the RS really comes to light. The MK3 Focus XR5 Turbo/Focus ST gets a new, more powerful turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder engine, that generates 184 kW of power at 5500 rpm and 360 Nm of peak torque (with overboost) from 2000 rpm to 4500 rpm. This engine also pairs with a short-throw 6-speed manual, and facilitates an improved zero to 100 km/h time of 6.2 seconds.
The MK3 Focus RS gets a more powerful, turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 257 kW of power and 440 Nm of torque. Ford states that this model requires just 4.7 seconds to sprint from zero to 100 km/h. Zoom!
Image Credit: autocar.co.uk
The driving character of the Focus XR5 Turbo is considerably different from that of the Focus RS. One big reason behind the difference is that the Focus XR5 Turbo is front-wheel-drive, while the RS is all-wheel-drive.
The XR5 Turbo features standard torque-vectoring control which applies brakes to the front inside wheel when cornering, balancing power and torque between the front wheels. This gives the XR5 Turbo better road grip and enhanced cornering control.
However, it pales in contrast to the Focus RS’s super-efficient all-wheel-drive system that also includes torque-vectoring technology. The Focus RS feels more planted on the road and more confident around sharp turns. Both the XR5 Turbo and RS models also feature sport-tuned, independent Macpherson strut front/control blade rear suspension systems which are tuned to deliver well-cushioned rides while facilitating sharp handling and enhanced agility.
All things considered, both the Focus XR5 Turbo and the Focus RS are formidable performance car options. The XR5 Turbo is worth considering if you are working with a limited budget and if you don’t intend to drive the car on a track. The Focus RS is better suited to track-focused enthusiasts, because its awesome capabilities are greatly underutilized on police-monitored city roads and freeways.
You can get more information about the Ford Focus XR5 Turbo and the Ford Focus RS at AusBody Works. We at AusBody Works specialise in selling top-quality, imported ABS and Polyurethane body kits for many sporty car brands. Our body kits are affordable and long-lasting, and they are available in many designs.