2019 Audi RS 3 vs. 2018 Ford Focus ST

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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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 ST 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 ST 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 ST 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 ST 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 has all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Focus ST doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

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 ST 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 ST doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

Both the RS 3 and the Focus ST 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, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights and rearview cameras.


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 ST’s 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 ST’s (12 vs. 5 years).


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.


The RS 3’s 2.5 turbo 5 cyl. produces 142 more horsepower (394 vs. 252) and 84 lbs.-ft. more torque (354 vs. 270) than the Focus ST’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

The RS 3 has 2.1 gallons more fuel capacity than the Focus ST (14.5 vs. 12.4 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.


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

The RS 3’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The Focus ST doesn’t offer launch control.

Brakes and Stopping

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

RS 3

Focus ST

Front Rotors

14.6 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

12.2 inches

10.6 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 ST 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 ST doesn’t offer ceramic brake rotors.

The RS 3 stops shorter than the Focus ST:

RS 3

Focus ST

80 to 0 MPH

204 feet

206 feet

Road and Track

60 to 0 MPH

116 feet

121 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 ST (F:255/30R19 & R:235/35R19 vs. 235/40R18).

The RS 3’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 35 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Focus ST’s standard 40 series tires. The RS 3’s optional 255/30R19 front and 235/35R19 rear tires have a lower 30 series front and 35 series rear profile than the Focus ST’s 40 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the RS 3 has standard 19-inch wheels. Only 18-inch wheels are available on the Focus ST.

Suspension and Handling

The RS 3 offers an available driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The Focus ST’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

For better maneuverability, the RS 3’s turning circle is 3.3 feet tighter than the Focus ST’s (36.1 feet vs. 39.4 feet).

Passenger Space

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

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 ST’s liftover is 28.2 inches.

A standard locking glovebox keeps your small valuables safer in the RS 3. The Focus ST 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 ST 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 ST.

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.


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 ST 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 ST 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 ST’s 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 ST 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 ST 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 ST doesn’t offer extendable visors.

The RS 3’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Ford charges extra for heated mirrors on the Focus ST.

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 ST offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The RS 3 has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning costs extra on the Focus ST.

Both the RS 3 and the Focus ST 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 ST 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 ST doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.


The RS 3 was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” in 2018. The Focus hasn’t been picked since 2013.

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

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