2019 Audi RS 3 vs. 2018 Ford Focus RS

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The RS 3’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Focus RS doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Audi RS 3 are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Ford Focus RS has only front height-adjustable seat belts.

The RS 3 offers optional Audi Pre Sense Front, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The Focus RS doesn't offer collision warning or crash mitigation brakes.

The RS 3 has a standard Secondary Collision Brake Assist, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Focus RS doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

The RS 3’s optional lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane and gently nudges the vehicle back towards its lane. The Focus RS doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

To help make backing safer, the RS 3’s cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The Focus RS doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

Both the RS 3 and the Focus RS have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, all wheel drive, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights and rearview cameras.

Warranty

The RS 3 comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Focus RS’ 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

The RS 3’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the Focus RS’ (12 vs. 5 years).

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Ford vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Audi 8th in reliability, above the industry average. With 22 more problems per 100 vehicles, Ford is ranked 16th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Ford vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Audi 11 places higher in reliability than Ford.

Engine

The RS 3’s 2.5 turbo 5 cyl. produces 44 more horsepower (394 vs. 350) and 4 lbs.-ft. more torque (354 vs. 350) than the Focus RS’ 2.3 turbo 4 cyl.

Transmission

The RS 3 has a standard automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. The Focus RS doesn’t offer an automatic transmission.

The RS 3 offers a standard sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The Focus RS doesn’t offer an SMG.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the RS 3’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Focus RS:

RS 3

Focus RS

Front Rotors

14.6 inches

13.8 inches

Rear Rotors

12.2 inches

11.9 inches

The RS 3’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Focus RS are solid, not vented.

The RS 3 offers optional heat-treated ceramic brake rotors, which last ten to twenty times as long as conventional cast iron rotors, don’t rust, don’t fade during repeated high speed braking, and their lighter weight contribute to better braking, handling and acceleration. The Focus RS doesn’t offer ceramic brake rotors.

The RS 3 stops shorter than the Focus RS:

RS 3

Focus RS

80 to 0 MPH

204 feet

208 feet

Road and Track

70 to 0 MPH

157 feet

160 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

116 feet

120 feet

Road and Track

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the RS 3’s optional front tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Focus RS (F:255/30R19 & R:235/35R19 vs. 235/35R19).

The RS 3’s optional 255/30R19 front tires provide better handling because they have a lower 30 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Focus RS’ 35 series tires.

The RS 3 has a standard space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the Focus RS; it requires you to depend on roadside assistance and your vehicle will have to be towed.

Suspension and Handling

The RS 3’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (58.2% to 41.8%) than the Focus RS’ (59.4% to 40.6%). This gives the RS 3 more stable handling and braking.

For better maneuverability, the RS 3’s turning circle is 2.6 feet tighter than the Focus RS’ (36.1 feet vs. 38.7 feet).

Passenger Space

The RS 3 has 1.9 inches more rear legroom and .4 inches more rear shoulder room than the Focus RS.

Cargo Capacity

A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the RS 3 easier. The RS 3’s trunk lift-over height is 26.3 inches, while the Focus RS’ liftover is 28.2 inches.

A standard locking glovebox keeps your small valuables safer in the RS 3. The Focus RS doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

Servicing Ease

The RS 3 uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Focus RS uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

A maintenance reminder system is standard on the RS 3 to save the owner time and money by calculating maintenance intervals for oil changes, spark plug replacement, air filter replacement and tire rotation based on odometer mileage. This takes the guesswork out of keeping your vehicle in top condition and helps it last longer. Ford doesn’t offer a maintenance reminder on the Focus RS.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Audi service is better than Ford. J.D. Power ranks Audi third in service department satisfaction. With a 60% lower rating, Ford is ranked 24th.

Ergonomics

If the windows are left open on the RS 3 the driver can close them all at the outside door handle or from a distance using the remote. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Focus RS can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The RS 3 has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The Focus RS doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

The RS 3’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Focus RS’ intermittent wipers change speed with vehicle speed, but can’t turn on and off or change speed based on changing rainfall.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The RS 3 has standard headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The Focus RS doesn’t offer headlight washers.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the RS 3 detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Focus RS doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the RS 3 has standard extendable sun visors. The Focus RS doesn’t offer extendable visors.

The RS 3 has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Focus RS offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The RS 3 has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable. The Focus RS doesn’t offer a rear seat center armrest.

Both the RS 3 and the Focus RS offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the RS 3 has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Focus RS doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the RS 3 offers an optional Adaptive Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The Focus RS doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the RS 3 owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the RS 3 will cost $200 less than the Focus RS over a five-year period.

Recommendations

The RS 3 was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” in 2018. The Focus RS has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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