Jump to content

Ford Focus RS vs Audi RS3 vs Volkswagen Golf R


There are two letters guaranteed to get fast Ford fans excited: RS. They stand for Rallye Sport, and after the famous badge debuted on 1970’s Escort RS1600, it has been reserved for the hottest Fords ever since.



The latest addition to the family is the new Focus RS. This go-faster family hatchback is the most powerful ever, thanks to a thumping 345bhp turbocharged 2.3-litre engine. It’s also the first RS since the rally-bred Escort RS Cosworth to feature a four-wheel-drive system, although this trick transmission has been designed to boost driver fun, not just to improve grip and traction.



Yet despite the incredible power and hi-tech hardware, the new Focus RS hasn’t forgotten its blue-collar roots. With a price that’s a whisker under £30,000, it promises plenty of performance per pound.


Here, it faces two fierce rivals. The Audi RS3 was used as a benchmark by Ford’s engineers when developing the Focus, and its 362bhp looks good on paper. It also has plenty of upmarket appeal, albeit with a price to match.



The Volkswagen Golf R doesn’t shout nearly as loudly as its rivals here, plus it’s a little down on outright power. However, it’s competitively priced and is recognised as the handling benchmark for four-wheel-drive hot hatches. Until this point, at least.

So which of our heavy-hitting pocket rockets will land the knock-out punch? We hit the tortuous mountain roads above Barcelona in Spain to find out.



Head to head




The Ford and VW borrow their engines from other models. So the 2.3-litre in the Focus is also used in the Mustang, but tweaks to the internals and turbo boost power to 345bhp. Under the Golf’s bonnet is a GTI engine, with power increased from 217bhp to 296bhp.



The Audi’s engine appeared in the old-shape TT RS, and also features in the RS Q3 crossover.




Ford has toned down the Focus’s styling in an attempt to rival the premium brands, but there are still plenty of RS cues, including the gaping grille and large tailgate spoiler. The Audi’s potential is equally obvious, but its additions aren’t as aggressive. By comparison, the Volkswagen is low key and could be confused with a cheaper R-Line model.






The Golf comes with a choice of either a six-speed manual gearbox or a £1,415 twin-clutch DSG automatic. All RS3s feature Audi’s seven-speed twin-clutch S tronic, while the Focus is only offered with a six-speed manual – although Ford hasn’t ruled out introducing its PowerShift auto box to the RS at a later date.





1st place: Ford Focus RS


With its eye-catching price tag and blistering performance, the Focus RS is a fast Ford in the finest tradition. Yet it’s the car’s trick four-wheel-drive system and honed suspension that star, giving the Focus incredible agility and delivering more than enough driver involvement. It also looks and sounds the part. The only black marks are reserved for the small boot and firm low-speed ride.


2nd place: Volkswagen Golf R


The Golf misses out by the narrowest of margins in this encounter. It’s faster than its power deficit would suggest and it attacks twisting back roads with incredible composure. It’s also the easiest car to live with day to day and has the most versatile interior. Yet it just lacks the excitement and involvement of the Focus – and in this class, that counts for a lot.



3rd place: Audi RS3


If this test was based purely on engine sound and straight-line performance, then the Audi RS3 would carry off the spoils. It also benefits from having easily the best cabin here and comes with most standard equipment. However, its handling feels a little lead-footed in this company, and there’s no getting away from that hefty price tag.





Source Autoexpress

User Feedback

Recommended Comments

The result fails to take in to account that anyone over the age of 30 driving the RS will probably look like a bit of a cock, and anyone under 30 will not be able to insure it !

At least you can turn up at a meeting in the R and not look like you have borrowed your son's car !! Wish the R had more pop's & bangs though !!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

ive never been a fan of the new fords in general. In the 80s/90s they made some good hot hatches but everyone has caught and overtaken them for a while. This is clearly a better effort from Ford but like the MK2 Focus RS, the colours are silly and will attract the wrong people (police and joyriders). I still think VW, Audi and Merc make better hot hatches but its opinion based I suppose. I pick up my golf R next week.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bit misleading .. as the article says .... ' Ford's new Focus RS has arrived '


Where's than then ?


A UK work colleague paid a deposit this week .. expect to see a car March 2017 .. maybe !

My old man just bought one Saturday, delivery due September 2016, October latest!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My old man just bought one Saturday, delivery due September 2016, October latest!

That's good going! .. my colleague has been told of a possible Aug / Sept build date if he gets very lucky, but probably later. Apparently there is some kind of hold up with some of the components right now? 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think there is lot of fun behind the wheel of the Ford. And imo that counts for every car in this segment.

Even what your choice is, I don't think you can go wrong or will be disappointed.


But it's still a Ford and has never been my favorite. Why? I don't know. Never had one actually.

Maybe by judging the other people who owned one.


As soon as my mate has his one (Focus RS), we are going to swap cars for a while.


Although he has to wait 5-6 months longer then me :tongue: 

Edited by Caveman
Link to comment
Share on other sites

For those that like the 3 door golf R. I believe they removed it and replaced it with the Scirocco R did they not? They both produce the same power and in reality only differ in the fact that the golf has 4wd and the scirocco is fwd. However as i am learning this is not a bad thing as the Scirocco loves to oversteer and can actually beat the golf R in a straight drag if you can drive it right. I would heatedly agree however that as a day to day car the VW really is in a class of it's own without competition

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My wife just bought an M235, it's a quick car and has similar power for about the same money, granted not a hatch.


It's neck and neck with my golf with the JB fitted in the straight lines. Really tempted to fit a JB to the BMW as well.


The golf however it much more planted in the corners than the Beemer making it more fun on the B roads.


The wife originally wanted a golf r of her own but didn't want two on the drive way so we ended up with the m235.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Create New...