The concepts of the Ford Focus RS (base price: 40,000 euros) and the Ford Mustang 2.3 EcoBoost (38,000 euros) couldn’t be more different if they tried. On the one side, you have the newest interpretation of the term “hot hatch” with all-wheel drive. On the other, a modernised, front engined classic with rear-wheel drive. In the Focus, a sophisticated all-wheel drive system with individual couplings for each of the rear wheels aids power distribution – at most, 70 % of the power is directed to the rear axle. You have a choice of four driving modes, meaning whatever you throw at the Focus RS, it has the driving dynamics profile to match it. That’s something we could confirm in our review. The Mustang is respectable, but not quite as rapid as the other Ford (as we discovered in the supertest). The power is kept in check merely by a mechanical limited-slip-differential and a defeatable ESP system. Admittedly, you do still have the choice of four driving modes. But we found that the influence on the driving dynamics is somewhat less pronounced than those of the Focus.
Both cars are powered by a 2.3 litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine. The Focus RS uses it to generate 350 BHP and 40 Nm, the Mustang gleans a “mere” 317 BHP and 432 Nm. Both rely on a six-speed manual gearbox. The Focus will go from a standstill to 100 km/h in 4.7 seconds, putting it a good distance ahead of the Mustang, which only hits the 100 km/h mark after 5.8 seconds. Not too surprising: the Focus has that all-wheel-drive grip, launch control and weighs a good 125 kg less than the Mustang. Keeping the pedal to the metal, the RS will reach 266 km/h, whilst the Mustang will be all out of puff at 234 km/h. Standard fuel consumption is similar between the two cars – 7.7 versus 8.0 litres.
From a sports perspective, the cars are markedly different in their equipment. Whilst the Focus brings everything a sports-car enthusiast could want in the RS format, and can only be upgraded in terms of comfort, Mustang buyers should definitely opt for the Recaro sport seats (1,800 euros). Infotainment fans are also better served by the Focus. The Sync 2 touchscreen system is included as standard, whereas it is only available as a 1,200 euro extra on the Mustang.
Although not strictly speaking part of the sports set-up, we will mention the body concepts anyway. The five-door RS still has all those beloved Focus traits, and is as such also an acceptable family car. The two-door Mustang with its 2+2 seat configuration loses points for space.
The Mustang can however defeat the RS in one fell swoop. If you up your budget to 43,000 euros, you can upgrade to the Mustang’s 421 BHP five-litre V8 engine. Although this doesn’t bring it any closer to the driving dynamics of the Focus RS, that coveted V8 noise will be enough for many to ignore the Focus RS as an option entirely.