loading Loading please wait....

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

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
collapse this

Ford Focus cars for sale

449 Search results
Ford Focus
6499 24000 GBP
  • Ford Focus

    £13,000 £13,000

    Air Conditioning, Bluetooth, Climate Control, Dual Climate Zones, Recaro Sports Seats, Half Leather, Alarm, Central Locking, Immobiliser, Locking Wheel Nuts, Remote Central Locking, Front Centre Armrest, Head Restraints, Height Adjustable Seat, Folding Rear Seats, Rear Headrests, Adjustable Steering Column, Multi-function Steering Wheel, Power Steering, Traction Control, Trip Computer, ABS, Brake Assist, Child Locks, Isofix, Multiple Airbags, Auto Lighting, Colour Coded Body, Front Fog Lamps, Rear Spoiler, Rear Wash/wipe, Auto-dip Rearview, Automatic Electric Windows, Electric Mirrors, Push Button Start, CD Player, MP3 Player, Radio, Steering Wheel Audio Controls, 18'' Alloys, Full service history This Ford Focus ST-2 has had 3 services with Ford main dealers and 1 service with an independent garage. Prior to collection, the car will get 12 months MOT, serviced and also undergo our multi point inspection. This car comes as standard with a gold cover warranty.

    • Mileage: 30379 mi
    • Engine size: 1999
    For sale
    Lawson Cars
  • Ford Focus

    £11,700 £11,700

    Climate Control, Bluetooth, Full Leather, Heated Seats, Parking Sensors, 18'' Alloys, Full service history

    • Mileage: 44600 mi
    • Engine size: 2521
    For sale
  • FORD FOCUS ST-3 2013

    £14,970 £14,970

    UKI (Sudbury) Limited are pleased to offer this two owner 2013/13 Ford Focus ST-3 presented in Metallic Panther black with full Black leather Recaro sports seats. The ST has been exceptionally well looked after throughout its life so far, it is in outstanding condition. All alloys and tyres are in very good order. There is also a full service history with the vehicle and will also have one prior to being sold.;;The ST-3 Focus comes with a very good specification, this spec includes - Satellite navigation, Reverse assist camera, Blind spot assist, Full black leather Recaro sports seats, Heated front seats, Xenon headlights, Red brake callipers, Ford Sync bluetooth connectivity, Privacy glass, Illuminated door sills, Rear parking sensors, Cruise control, Climate control, Heated front windscreen, DAB digital radio, Lane keeping assist, Automatic lights, Front fog light, Electric folding door mirrors, Door protectors, 18" multi spoke alloys in Titanium finish.;;All of our vehicles come with the remainder of their manufacturers warranty (where applicable) and are HPI clear, they also come with an M.O.T with no advisories (where applicable) and a standard 3 month warranty with options to upgrade to 2 years, we also have trained valets who are experienced in applying the market leading Williams F1 Ceramic paint protection which we can offer at discounted rates to all of our customers.

    • Mileage: 21000 mi
    • Engine size: 1.999
    For sale
  • Ford Focus

    £21,699 £21,699

    19'' Alloys, Service history Ultimate Green....Black 19'' RS Alloys...Leather & Suede Recaro RS Interior....Xenon Headlights....Colour Satellite Navigation System....Black Performance Pack....Heated Front & Rear Screen...Reversing Camera....Keyless Entry...Keyless Start...Bluetooth...This Car is in Stunning Showroom Condition with Impeccable Pedigree and Subtle Fettling and Enhancements by Renowned Specialist Mountune....This Vehicle is available to view at any one of our RAC Approved branches. For more information and to arrange a test drive please contact the Bishops Stortford branch on 01279 656000 or alternatively Kings Langley on 01923 27000. Part exchange welcome, Finance available regardless of your credit rating, all our cars are Hpi checked and are supplied with upto 3 years RAC Platinum Warranty and RAC GAP Insurance Available, We are a private company with over 30 years experience within the motor trade. Situated in Bishop's Stortford only 15 mins from JCT 27 on the M25 or 5 mins from JCT 8 on the M11 all of our cars are hpi checked and come with a comprehensive warranty., www.totallytradedirect.co.uk

    • Mileage: 60000 mi
    • Engine size: 2521
    For sale
  • Ford Focus

    £16,790 £16,790

    Variant name:2.0 TDCi 185 ST-2 5dr ,Derivative:ST-2 ,Variant: 2.0 TDCi 185 ST-2 5dr 6 Speed Gearbox,ABS,Air Conditioning,Alloy Wheels,Automatic Headlights,Bluetooth Prepared,CD Player,Electric Mirrors,Electric Windows,Front Fog Lights,Full Service History,Isofix Seats,Leather Steering Wheel,Manufacturer Warranty,Multiple Airbags,Onboard Computer,Power Steering

    • Year: 2015
    • Mileage: 21778 mi
    • Engine size: 2
    For sale
  • Ford Focus

    £18,790 £18,790

    Variant name:Hatchback ST-2 ,Derivative:ST-2 ,Variant: 2.0T EcoBoost ST-2 5dr Ford Focus 2.0T EcoBoost ST-2 5dr

    • Year: 2015
    • Mileage: 12500 mi
    • Engine size: 2
    For sale
  • FORD FOCUS ST-3 2013

    £14,495 £14,495

    We at R Sawyers are extremely proud to present this stunning Ford Focus ST3 in Panther black, on behalf of a long term trusted client. This car is in stunning condition and truly must be seen to be fully appreciated. Being the ST3 the car benefits from a great specification, which includes the style pack, rear sensors and heated leather interior. It has full Ford service history with the last service being carried out less than 5 thousand miles ago. We cannot stress enough the condition of this car with bodywork and interior in unmarked condition. Contact us now to make sure you do not miss out on this fantastic car.

    • Mileage: 27107 mi
    • Engine size: 2
    For sale
Related Specification
Related content