Model Page

Focus RS Mk 1

Focus RS Mk1 Side


2002 - 2003

Production Run:



Saarlouis (Germany)


1,998cc Zetec-E Turbocharged


6.0 Seconds

Max Speed:

148 Mph

Introduced in October 2002, the Focus RS Mk1 hailed the re-introduction of Fords RS brand after a five year absence following the demise of the Escort RS Cosworth. Strictly a limited edition the car was manufactured for only 13 months and proved highly successful for Ford re-launching the historic RS brand.

Ford had discontinued the RS brand in 1996, the last Escort Cosworth rolled off the production line on 12th January 1996 with the car no longer complying with stricter noise and exhaust emissions regulations. The RS brand resolutely soldiered on for another 8 months until August 26th 1996 with the Escort RS2000 when the last of the RS line rolled off the production line, the model finally being killed off by high insurance premiums.

Ford Focus RS MK 1

Ford Focus RS MK 1

Since the introduction of the Ford Focus in 1998 the model did not have a true performance derivative, Ford wanted to introduce a high performance edition of the Focus to complement the highly successful Focus range and hoped for a halo effect that would have a positive impact on the rest of the model lineup. Under the stewardship of Martin Leach, the Vice Presisdent of Product development for Ford of Europe work began on developing a high performance Focus. Development was a combined effort between Ford TeamRS and long time development partners Tickford Engineering of Milton Keynes, Tickford had previously worked on collaborations with Ford producing the Tickford Capri and Racing Puma. Originally the Focus RS was destined to be released as the Racing Focus, following in the lines of the Racing Puma, but due to the poor sales of the Racing Ford decided to use the RS badge.

The Focus RS used a three door hatchback body, its ancestry can be easily seen despite the sweeping changes that were made to the styling. The RS shared the same doors, bonnet, roof panel, rear lamps and headlights as the standard Ford Focus but every other aspect of the exterior styling was changed. The RS Focus received new front wings, rear wings and was fitted with a smart bodykit that included sill extensions, front and rear wheel arch extensions and a discrete tailgate mounted rear spoiler.

Ford Focus RS MK1

Ford Focus RS MK1

The Focus RS took some of its styling features from the Focus WRC car that was competing in the World Rally Championship, significant effort was taken to produce an aerodynamic body that gave rise to high speed stability. The bespoke front bumper is a striking example of this featuring a large front grille positioned for maximum airflow to aid cooling, air from the front grille is channelled through twin slots in front of each wheel. The front bumper was completed with integrated Hella fog lamps, the rear bumper was changed from the standard Focus and received revised styling giving the car a more aggressive styling. The revised front bumper helped to accommodate the 65mm wider front track of the RS.

The RS was installed with a 2.0 litre four cylinder, double overhead camshaft turbo charged engine that was badged as a RS Duratec unit although the engine is in all fact a Zetec E unit. The engine utilised the standard block but was fitted with a WRC design forged pistons that gave a lower compression ratio and forged connecting rods, the engine exhaust valves were sodium filled to improve performance. The fuel system was uprated with a new fuel pump and pressure regulator valve to deliver sufficient fuel to the cylinders. The engine was treated to a remapped Ford EEC V engine management system to control fuel delivery to the upgraded fuel injectors.

The engine was turbocharged through a Garret GT2560 SG Turbocharger, this unit was chosen as it gave low levels of turbo lag and high torque delivery throughout the rev range. To give a denser air mixture to the engine a water to air intercooler was installed to the engine that had its own water cooling system this proved substantially more efficient than the usual air to air intercoolers found in most turbocharged applications. Engine breathing was increased through the addition of a newly designed air intake system and new stainless steel high flow large bore stainless steel exhaust system.

Ford Focus RS MK1 Engine Bay

Ford Focus RS MK1 Engine Bay

Ford dedicated a lot of work to increase the durability of the Focus RS, for example the Turbocharger was water cooled (with electric water pump) to increase performance and durability. A high performance water pump was added to the engine that provides 50% additional flow and a high performance oil cooler. Underbonnet temperatures were controlled through the installation of copius amounts of heat shielding, the engine bay cooling fans were configured so that they remained on for a controlled period when the engine was shutdown thus increasing longevity.

Much to the disappointment of some RS enthusiasts power was delivered to the front wheels only, Fords engineers chose to install a Quaife automatic torque biasing limited slip differential that gave improved traction and had a positive impact on the handling characteristics of the car. Power was transferred from the five speed manual MTX-75 gearbox through an uprated AP racing clutch.

The car had fully independent suspension all round, the front suspension setup included redesigned MacPherson struts with uprated coil springs and Sachs racing dampers, the car had independent rear suspensions with stiffened control blade multi link suspension with Sachs racing Monotube dampers with internal rebound springs. Anti roll bars were fitted front and rear.

To provide adequate stopping power Brembo sourced four piston callipers with 324mm ventilated discs were fitted to the front of the car and two pot callipers 280mm solid discs at the rear coupled to a MK25 Bosch antilock braking system. Steering was taken care of through a quick rack power assisted unit requiring 2.9 turns lock to lock.

Ford Focus RS MK1 Interior

Ford Focus RS MK1 Interior

The car retained the same interior as the Focus with a few small changes the most major of which were the Blue and black leather and Alcantara Sparco front seats that were embossed with RS logos, the steering wheel was trimmed in black and blue leather to match. The car used the same dashboard but was fitted with upgraded instrumentation including a turbo boost gauge, all instruments received a blue background. The car came with air conditioning, electric front windows, cd player with six disc changer and driver and passenger airbags. The car was started through a push button that was mounted on the dashboard.

All Focus RS cars were finished in Ford Racing Blue, the changes to the design of the bodywork increased the drag coefficient to 0.365 which although is less efficient than the standard Ford Focus can still be considered to be efficient due to the front profile of the car. The exterior package was completed with O.Z. 18 ď alloy wheels shod with Michelin 225/40/18 Pilot sport low profile tyres.

The Focus RS gave very strong performance and nearly matched the old Escort RS Cosworth, with the engine developing 212bhp @ 5,500rpm and 229 lb/ft of torque @ 3,500 rpm the car powered from rest to sixty miles per hour in 6.0 seconds and was capable of going on to achieve 148 Mph, comfortably ahead of the Focus ST170. The model exhibited superb handling characteristics and track tests proved these characteristics with the Focus generally posting faster lap times that the Civic Type R and the more powerful four wheel drive Subaru Impreza Turbo.

Production of the vehicle took place between 2nd October 2002 and 11th November 2003 at Fords facility at Saarlouis in Germany, during this period 4,501 vehicles were manufactured out of this figure 2,147 cars were sold in the UK making this the most important market.

The Focus RS Mk1 was introduced at a price of £19,995 and supply quickly outstripped demand, several cars were sold to speculators and second hand prices soon exceeded Fordís retail price. Today the Focus RS is highly sought after by enthusiasts and collectors and prices have settled down with top example fetching around £12,000.

The Facts


Ford 2.0 Zetec E Turbocharged Inline Four Cylinder





Compression Ratio:


Fuel System:

Ford EEC-V Fuel Injection

Maximum Power:

212 bhp @ 5,500rpm

Maximum Torque:

229 lb/ft @ 3,500rpm


Ford MTX-75 Five Speed Manual Gearbox

Top Gear:



Front Ventilated 324mm Discs / Rear 280mm Solid Discs

Kerb Weight:

1,278 Kg

Max Speed:

148 Mph


6.0 Secs