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Ford Focus RS Mk1: Buying guide and review (2002-2003)

Ford Focus RS Mk1: Buying guide and review (2002-2003) Classic and Performance Car
Ford Focus RS Mk1 Ford Focus RS Mk1 Ford Focus RS Mk1 Ford Focus RS Mk1 Ford Focus RS Mk1 Ford Focus RS Mk1 Ford Focus RS Mk1
Introduced in 2002, the Focus RS was the first Rallye Sport model in Ford’s range since the demise of the RS2000 five years before. Taking inspiration from the WRC Focus, the new RS curiously eschewed four wheel drive and instead put its power down through the front wheels, via a Quaife torque-biasing differential. 
This gave it serious grip and an uncompromising character when pressing on, as well as eliciting a lot of comment from the motoring press. Possessing a very sporty character it was certainly just as exciting as its four wheel drive competition and with a heavily reworked Duratec engine pumping out 212bhp it was right on pace too.
The first of a slew of Focus RS models, this first-gen MK1 may not be able to match the latest hot hatches for pace but it by most yardsticks remains a decently quick car. It offers an engaging drive and is an important part of Ford’s chequered motoring history.
Which one to buy?
With only 4501 units built and no colour or trim options to muddy the waters, your focus so to speak should be on finding the best condition RS within your budget. Essentially this first generation RS remained unchanged for the duration of its short production run, finished in imperial blue paintwork with black on blue leather and alcantara interior it was a sporty looking hot hatch. 
Mechanically the Duratec engine featured a modified cylinder head, uprated fuelling system and a GT 2560LS turbo with Chargecooler. The result was 212bhp of power which was channelled to the front wheels through a MTX75 5-speed gearbox and the aggressive Quaife LSD prevented most of it from turning into expensive tyre smoke.
Stock standard low milers are rare finds and command the highest prices, these are also the ones that will be the most likely to appreciate in value over the coming years. 
As the mechanicals are robust many have been modified over the years to take advantage of the motor’s latent abilities. Mild upgrades such as remapping and replacement exhausts systems can liberate up to 50bhp and should not detrimentally affect the cars reliability. More heavily modified cars should be approached with caution however.
Phase 2 cars which were introduced in late 2003 featured some very minor changes the most important of which was an update to the engine mapping to resolve a few fuelling issues. The earlier cars should not be overlooked though as these changes should have been carried out under recall.
Performance and specs
Engine 1988cc 16 valve DOHC in-line four-cylinder 
Power 212bhp @ 5500rpm 
Torque 229lb ft @ 3500rpm
Top speed 144 mph 
0-60mph 6.4 seconds 
Fuel consumption 27.9mpg 
Gearbox Five-speed manual
Dimensions and weight
Wheelbase 2615mm
Length 4183mm
Width 1762mm
Height 1440mm
Curb weight 1278kg
Common problems
• Ford issued a recall to resolve fuelling and cold starting issues on the earlier cars, however most owners would have remapped the cars themselves by now. Ensure that a reputable tuning house has carried out the work if this is the case.

• A number of panels such as the pricey front bumper are RS Mk1 specific, so replacements can be pricey.
Cars with uprated turbos, exhausts and intercoolers can boost power up to 400bhp, but mechanical longevity can be compromised in other areas and values tend to be lower for heavily modified cars.

• The Duratec engine is robust, however watch out for blown turbos or oil seals. Keep an eye out for blue smoke blowing out the exhaust. 

• The cooling system should be given a once over, especially around the thermostat housing. Wet patches in front footwells can either be a leaking pollen filter or rusted water pipe behind the driver’s side wheel arch. Both issues are easy to resolve.

• Suspension rubbers and dampers should be checked if the car feels excessively loose on a test drive. 

• The Brembo four pot brakes are well up to their task and should be more than adequate for road use, harder pads and uprated brake fluid can be used for track days.

• Check the Chargecooler reservoir to ensure that water is pumping into it and examine the bushes which can wear out and cause the unit to vibrate on its mountings. 

• Rust can manifest itself in the arches and around the door mirrors and plastic boot handle where it meets the bodywork. Paintwork quality in general is not particularly of a high quality so stone chips and small scratches are normal.

• Bonnet linings tended to pull away causing vibration at speed. An issue that affected all Focus models, and can be resolved by re-gluing the affected trim.
Model history
2002: Ford Focus RS introduced with Quaife LSD and heavily reworked 212bhp turbocharged Duratec engine. Available solely in imperial blue paintwork and black/blue interior trim
2003: Minor update introduced with changes to ECU, changing from AE to AF spec to resolve fuelling issues. Retrofitted to older models under recall. Production ends in November with 4501 units produced
Owners clubs, forums and websites
• www.mk1focusrsoc.com – Focus RS owners club
• www.grahamgoode.com – Performance Ford tuners
• www.rsownersclub.co.uk – Club catering for all Ford RS models
Summary and prices

High milers start at around £8000, ensure that a comprehensive service history is available and that any modifications have been carried out professionally. Those looking for the best cars will need to spend closer to £16,000. These are generally low milers and have the greatest potential for future appreciation. Choice is limited due to the relatively small 4501 production run, so it may take a bit of time to find the right car.
Rough around the edges in just the right measures the Mk1 RS combines contemporary levels of performance with an analogue charm and daily usability that makes it a compelling modern classic. Pick a good one and you could have your cake and eat it as values continue to rise.
Words: John Tallodi
Ford Focus RS Mk1 Ford Focus RS Mk1 Ford Focus RS Mk1 Ford Focus RS Mk1 Ford Focus RS Mk1 Ford Focus RS Mk1 Ford Focus RS Mk1
Last updated: 14th Aug 2016
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Ford Focus
1250 25995 GBP
  • Ford Focus

    £9,597 £9,597

    Variant name:ZETEC ,Derivative:MK3 FL (C346) ,Variant: ZETEC

    • Year: -1
    • Mileage: 18511 mi
    • Engine size: 1
    For sale
    £9,597 £9,597
    Peoples-Peoples Speke
    0151 559 2538 View contact number
  • Ford Focus

    £1,250 £1,250

    estate Zetec, 1.6L, silver, registered August 2004, petrol, manual, 2 owners, FSH, garaged, 66,600 miles only, quick clear heated front screen, ABS, a/c, radio/cd, electric front windows, MoT 25/08/18, cambelt changed at 37,500 miles, Barjo tailgate guard available. £1250. 01372 379202 leave a message if necessary. Leatherhead

    For sale
    £1,250 £1,250
  • ford focus

    £3,250 £3,250

    cabriolet 07 model, 2.0 petrol. Metallic blue. 55,000 miles. High spec model. Ford plus one owner. a/con, leather interior, alloys, cruise control. e/windows, pas, radio cd multi-changer, fsh, MOT £3250 01342 716049/ 07530 177742 East Grinstead

    For sale
    £3,250 £3,250
  • FORD FOCUS ST-3 Facelift - New RS Cluch, Flywheel and Cambelt Service

    £8,795 £8,795

    2008/08 Ford Focus 2.5 ST3, Finished in the highly desirable Panther Black, 59,000 Miles, 6 Speed Manual, 3 Door Hatchback, Full Service History, 2 Former Keepers, 2 Keys, Invoices, Service History Booklet, Just had major service including new Genuine Ford Focus RS Clutch and Flywheel, Cambelt. K and N Air Filter and Oil Change, MOT till April 2019. Pumabuild Remap, Radtec Intercooler, Piper 3" Exhaust System, Piper Sports Cat, RS Deluxe ECU Mount, Long Arm Air Intake (New K and N Filter), Keyless Go, Push Button Start, Bi-Xenon Headlights, Heated Seats, Black Leather Interior, Lumbar Support, Quick Clear Heated Windscreen, Oil Temperature Gauge, Boost Gauge, Oil Pressure Gauge, Headlight Washers, LED Rear Lights, ESP, Electric Windows, A/C, Heated Door Mirrors, Front Armrest, Isofix Anchor Points, 18” Alloys (With good Tyres All Around), Onboard Trip Computer, Remote Central Locking, Front/Rear Foglights, A lovely example of a facelift Focus ST which has been well maintained and been sensibly modified by a reputable ST Tuner - Pumabuild. Benefits from a new genuine MK2 Focus RS Clutch and Flywheel and Cambelt service. Must be seen to be appreciated. HPI Clear / Part Exchanges Welcome / Delivery Available. 01494 240099 / 07378 835 298

    • Mileage: 59000 mi
    For sale
    £8,795 £8,795
  • Ford Focus


    Auction Now Live: Ends Friday 16th March 8.30PM. LIVE AUCTION Full details with photographs and videos live on Trade Classics. This example we have on sale from Paul has been cared for, but also importantly for a drivers car, driven and enjoyed. If you are looking for an honest Fast Ford that you can own and cherish that’s priced sensibly, then this could be the car for you. Wheels & Tyres The car is fitted with 5 spoke 19″ Rota GTR alloy wheels, with Michelin tyres all round. The wheels looked in great condition, as can be seen in the media. Bodywork The bodywork looks in honest condition, the styling flares that come with the RS really setting the car off, and we didn’t observe any dents in the bodywork. The low front splitter has some visible scratches on it, which you can review in the media. Paint The paintwork on the car looks fresh as you would expect with a 2009 car that has been looked after. The combination of the flared bodywork and large wheels on the RS are notorious for picking stone-chips. This car being a 73,000 mile example has honest paintwork on close inspection to reflect this. Please review the detailed video so that you can judge for yourself. Glass and Trim Glass and trim were all in good order. LIVE AUCTION

    • Year: pre 1900
    • Mileage: 73000 mi
    • Engine size: 2.5
    For sale
  • Ford Focus

    £25,995 £25,995

    *SIMILAR QUALITY CARS ALWAYS REQUIRED* SOLD Thinking of selling? Our proven commission sale or SOR (Sale or Return) program is a great way to utilise and access our professional services and facilities while still maximising the return from your vehicle with minimal hassle, stress and time, If you’d like to take advantage of this then please get in touch for further information. Alternatively If you’d like to move your vehicle on quickly and efficiently with minimal delay then we can make an offer on an outright purchase basis with payment and collection arranged soon after. An immaculate Mk1 Ford Focus RS with only 7,424 miles and excellent history EQUIPMENT Computer optimised unitary welded steel body, rigid occupant safety cell, energy absorbing crumple zones, wider front and rear pressed steel wings, auxiliary air intakes, aerodynamic splitter and rear wing, mounted side sills, modified lower rear apron, driver and front passenger airbags, air conditioning, leather sports steering wheel with blue inserts, carbon fibre centre console with start button, limited edition number plaque, Sparco aluminium handbrake, gear knob and pedals, boost gauge and ‘change up light’, bright metal tread plates with RS script, stereo radio/6CD model 6006E, Thatcham CAT 1 alarm. MODEL HISTORY Inspired by the now Late Colin McRae’s victorious Ford Focus RS World Rally Car, the Ford Focus RS was created as a no frills, no compromise road going rally car, a car true to its motorsport roots. Designed in conjunction with Ford Racing Engineers and M-Sport in Cumbria, the RS badge synonymous with the most desirable, high performance Ford vehicles was first introduced to the already accomplished Focus. Only 4,501 examples were built with only 2,147 sold to the UK market. EXTERIOR Finished in the only colour available, striking Imperial Blue Metallic, (Code Q2), perfection seekers will be amazed with the outstanding exterior finish of this low mileage example. With styling cues from the Focus RS WRC project more aggressive polypropylene front and rear bumpers were developed for the Focus RS for extensive downforce and are virtually unmarked with only a few tiny stone chips. The correct Hella fog lights and blue turn indicator bulbs remain fitted and all exterior panels unique to the Focus RS body are pristine. The original supplying dealer number plates and rear screen sticker are affixed as are rare and delicate manufacturer stickers in door shuts and other discreet places often lost with the first wash. The underside is factory correct and clean with factory blue production dabs of paint visible thanks to low mileage dry use and temperature controlled storage. INTERIOR Inside this competition-inspired performance Focus RS is an impressive list of motorsport-derived equipment from a pair of body-hugging Sparco road-race seats swathed in luxurious Racing Black and Blue Leather and Black Alcantara, (Code AR), to aluminium fittings, push button start and a numbered plaque. Having covered just 7,424 miles, the interior condition is flawless and undeniably showroom fresh. The instrument cluster features segregated and individually framed gauges with a bold blue band graphic scheme all functioning perfectly. The desirable and no longer obtainable Focus RS carpet mats remain unused and stored in the boot with a set of standard Focus mats having been used instead to protect the carpets from new. The boot carpet has also been protected by a Ford boot tray. ENGINE & TRANSMISSION At the heart of this Focus RS is the powerful 2.0 Duratec RS four-cylinder 16v engine which can trace its roots to the Focus WRC engine design. With an air-to-water aircharge intercooler, a water-cooled turbocharger and oil-spray cooled pistons, it boosts output to 212bhp at 5500rpm and 310Nm torque at 3500rpm. The maximum speed is 144mph while 0-60 is dispatched in just 6.4 seconds! The engine bay is factory perfect. The Ford MTX-75 gearbox with a heavy-duty AP Racing clutch and Quaife Automatic Torque-Biasing (ATB) differential offers the ultimate rally road car experience. WHEELS, TYRES & BRAKES The pristine 8 x 18inch O.Z Racing wheels manufactured in light aluminium alloy are shod in premium Pirelli P Zero 225/40 ZR18 tyres. Peer through the large openings between the spokes and onlookers will be amazed at the beautifully detailed and spotless Brembo 4-pot calipers and 325mm ventilated discs which generate braking forces exceeding 1.0 g and can halt the car from 100mph in 4.1 seconds. HISTORY FILE Built on 29th April 2003 and registered new on 23rd June 2003, a new car sales invoice from the supplying main dealer, Sandicliffe Motor Group, reveals a purchase price of £19,970 to the first owner, Mr Teear. Ford reputedly made a loss of around £4,000 on each car sold, but such was demand when the cars were new that used examples were sold for more than list price! A further two custodians have cherished this car retaining and filing all documentation neatly and chronically in an A4 folder. The last cambelt change was carried out at Ford Lifestyle Motor Group in September 2013 at 7,288 miles. The warranted miles are now only 7,424. The history files also includes rare collector artefacts such as production cards, key tags and old tax discs. All original handbooks, service books and special RS supplements are contained within the Ford wallet and two keys with RS fobs are present. Virtually unrepeatable. MOT April 2018, HPI Clear. To see a video of this car please copy the link below: https://youtu.be/f8lyqHWbcjM To see a complete set of photographs of this car please copy the link below: https://flic.kr/s/aHskRV27Yp 'Like us' or 'Follow us' for exciting new cars coming soon at KGF Classic Cars: https://www.facebook.com/KGFClassiccars https://twitter.com/KGFClassicCars

    • Year: 1996
    • Mileage: 7424 mi
    • Engine size: 2
    For sale
    £25,995 £25,995