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Driven: Ford Focus RS Heritage Edition. Image by Ford.

Driven: Ford Focus RS Heritage Edition
Fordís excellent Focus RS Mk3 signs off in spectacular, orangey fashion.


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Ford Focus RS Heritage Edition

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Good points: it's everything a Mk3 Focus RS should be, only a little bit faster and a little bit keener to turn in

Not so good: expensive, and near-impossible to get hold of now

Key Facts

Model tested: Ford Focus RS Heritage Edition
Price: Focus RS Mk3 from £31,250 at run-out; Heritage Edition as tested was £39,925
Engine: 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: six-speed manual, all-wheel drive with Quaife mechanical limited-slip differential
Body style: five-door hot hatch
CO2 emissions: 175g/km (VED Band 171-190: £830 in year one, then £140 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 36.7mpg
Top speed: 165mph
0-62mph: 4.5 seconds
Power: 375hp at 6,000rpm
Torque: 510Nm at 2,000-4,500rpm
Boot space: 260-1,159 litres

Our view:

Short and sweet, this one: with the fourth-generation Ford Focus already here, thoughts are turning to the impending performance versions of this latest C-segment contender, namely the ones called the ST and the RS. And what better way to try and predict the future by looking to the (very recent) past for inspiration? The third iteration of the Focus RS was a sensational hot hatch, blending unbeatable four-wheel-drive traction with the sort of chassis balance that wouldn't disgrace a rear-driver. Oh, and it had a Drift Mode, too.

In its short life - the RS Mk3 arrived in 2016 and went out of production during 2018 - there were a few special editions of the fastest road-going Focus ever, which either threw in a diff, or threw in some nice, bright paintwork, or threw in a diff and some nice, bright paintwork. . . but the ultimate incarnation was the last one. Called the Heritage Edition, it had the Quaife mechanical limited-slip differential. And it had the nice, bright paintwork, too - orange paintwork. Tief Orange, more specifically, 'Tief' being German for deep, and Deep Orange is a fair assessment of just how thoroughly, unremittingly orange the Heritage Edition is.

But it also dropped the Mountune FPM375 performance kit into the equation, simultaneously boosting the Heritage Edition's peak outputs to 375hp and 510Nm, while trimming its 0-62mph time to 4.5 seconds. As well as a load of useful bits of kit (sunroof, rear parking sensors, cruise control, heated steering wheel and more) and some black exterior detailing with grey brake callipers, the price for this little lot was a hefty £39,925. . . a figure somewhat mitigated by the fact just 50 Heritage Editions were ever made, all of them for the UK, and they were the last Focus RS Mk3s off the line. Future collectability status seems all but guaranteed for this one.

But is it any good to drive? Well, yes. It is. Monumentally good, in fact. The Quaife diff and the extra power only serve to enhance the already stellar, glittering dynamic talents the Focus RS possessed in the first place, so we basically spent 150 miles in the Outspan Ford trying our damnedest to empty its fuel tank of Super Unleaded as quickly as possible. It kind of encourages that sort of unruly driving behaviour, see, what with its deftly balanced chassis, its monster all-weather-all-roads pace, its delightful feedback and feel, and its absolutely terrific cross-country abilities. Yeah, the 2.3-litre engine is still pretty drab to listen to, in and amongst all this chassis-dynamics genius, but the rambunctious exhausts somewhat make up for that problem with a cataclysmic array of pops, bangs and thuds. In short, we spent a little more than five hours behind the RS's steering wheel, getting an average 19.5mpg from it. It was thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed. Adored, even.

So why, you might be asking, are we giving a better-to-drive version of the five-star Focus RS Mk3 only 4.5 stars for this particular review? Ah, well that comes down to a tiny bit of financial savvy. Sure, the Heritage Edition might - one day - be worth more money than your regular third-gen RS. But how much more, it's not entirely clear, and given this sensational Ford was only built for two years, it's not as if any example of the RS is what you'd call common. So, given its fearsome expense (a 40 grand Ford Focus is a 40 grand Ford Focus, whichever way you cut it) and super-limited availability, while we recognise the Heritage Edition was a magnificent send-off for the RS Mk3 we think you'll be just as well off sourcing a cheaper, 350hp model on the used market. Which will go down in history as one of the greatest hot hatchbacks of all time, without a shadow of a doubt.


Audi RS 3 Sportback: became much better to drive when its 2.5-litre five-pot was lightened and ramped up to 400hp in 2017, but it still can't match the Focus for driving engagement.

Mercedes-AMG A 45: like the Audi, the Mercedes-AMG was vastly better once it gained adaptive dampers and its 381hp engine in 2015, but - oh! The expense of it!

Volkswagen Golf R Performance: no extra power for the ultra-urbane Golf R, but a louder Akrapovic exhaust and some chassis detail changes. It's really good, but expensive and nothing like as fun as the Focus RS.

Matt Robinson - 20 Sep 2018    - Ford road tests
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2018 Ford Focus RS Heritage Edition. Image by Ford UK.2018 Ford Focus RS Heritage Edition. Image by Ford UK.2018 Ford Focus RS Heritage Edition. Image by Ford UK.2018 Ford Focus RS Heritage Edition. Image by Ford UK.2018 Ford Focus RS Heritage Edition. Image by Ford UK.

2018 Ford Focus RS Heritage Edition. Image by Ford UK.2018 Ford Focus RS Heritage Edition. Image by Ford UK.2018 Ford Focus RS Heritage Edition. Image by Ford UK.2018 Ford Focus RS Heritage Edition. Image by Ford.


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