RAC Cars News


The Ford Focus RS takes on the BMW M2

By raccars Published

Ford Focus RS

The new Ford Focus RS has been subjected to huge media hype. Can it live up to it?

Over its many years in business, Ford has been subject to various criticisms and its reputation has suffered more ups and downs than the average theme park rollercoaster. However recently critics seem united in their praise of the new Ford Focus RS, calling it the most exciting hot hatch in the world. Can the car live up to this sort of hyperbole?

Ford Focus RS compared to the BMW M2

The Focus RS is quite clearly a car designed for pure driving pleasure. One of its main attractions is its affordability - for £30,000 you get the kind of performance that usually costs a lot more - about £14,000 more in the case of the BMW M2, for example. Despite the price differential, the two cars are spiritually similar, so how do they compare in real life?

The hard figures are interesting. The Ford is only 0.2 seconds slower to reach 62mph than the 4.5 second BMW, but while the M2 is limited to a 155mph top speed the Focus RS will keep going to 165mph. However it's cleaner and more economical than the M2 - not that efficiency is usually a priority when you're buying this kind of car! Both use six speed manual gearboxes.

Behind the wheel

The M2 is your typical sporty BMW with 365bhp of rear wheel drive to compare to the Focus RS's 345bhp, four wheel drive and a 'Drift' setting among its pre-set driving modes. In the German car you sit low to the floor in a finely crafted interior while the Focus RS is smart enough but lacks the premium feel of the M2 - as you'd expect given the difference in price.

On the road the Focus RS offers a harsher ride and sharper steering; arguably less comfortable than the M2 but it certainly feels genuinely sporty. Under the bonnet there are some major differences too. The M2 boasts a purring six cylinder 3.0 litre engine compared to the Ford's relatively whiney four cylinder 2.3 litre unit. The German car is brimming with confidence and self-esteem, handling the lumpiest of roads effortlessly. The Focus RS makes you work to achieve the same sort of performance, but this is when you really see what all the praise is about.

The Focus RS as a truculent puppy

Put the two to the test on a sharp, bendy road that demands some driving skill and the Focus RS comes into its own, showing the brilliance of its drivetrain and chassis combination. Like a difficult Doberman, the more effort you put in, the more you will see the rewards. The RS grips the roads with unbelievable tenacity and involves the driver in its brilliance far more so than the more composed and therefore less exciting M2. The stability control is nicely judged to provide maximum entertainment while keeping you safely on the tarmac where the M2 tends to rein the driver in before he or she is ready for it.

On a racetrack you'll get more out of the M2 but in the real world the Ford is far more fun. If you will be doing the school run and the weekly supermarket trip then the BMW is a more relaxing place to be, but when you want to come out to play it's far less exhilarating. Bear in mind that Ford is also offering the Mustang with this same engine. Put that against the M2 and it would be an even more interesting comparison, but we Brits love out hot hatches and the new Focus RS has got to be one of the hottest ever.

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