At the moment, the BMW M2 is taking the world by storm. Car enthusiasts everywhere are excited about BMW’s newest M Division product, as it seems like a return to form for the Bavarian brand, to cars like the E46 M3. It’s the most hotly anticipated BMW to debut for years and possibly the most hotly anticipated car all year. It’s a big deal. The BMW M2 is even great value, as we talked about previously, as it can be had for only slightly more than a well-equipped M235i and it comes with so much standard equipment. But there’s another very well-equipped and very high performance sports car to come out this year, the Ford Focus RS.
The previous Focus RS was a fan favorite among car enthusiasts, as it offered great performance and usable practicality at an affordable price. So when Ford announced it was making a new one, based on the much-loved current Ford Focus, fans became very excited. It’s easy to see why, as the new Focus RS is one of the best performance-per-dollar deals on the market. With a 2.3 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, that develops 350 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque, mated to a six-speed manual that powers all four wheels, the Focus RS is able to get from 0-60 mph in a claimed 4.6 seconds. That’s not far off of the claimed time for the BMW M2. Expect both cars to be faster than their claimed times, though. Both should do the sprint in the low four second range.
While the BMW M2 is going to be a tail-happy, rear-wheel drive smile machine, the Focus RS is more focused (see what I did there?) on grip, as evident by its all-wheel drive. Although all-wheel drive might not be a popular choice among BMW enthusiasts, it’s much better than the front-wheel drive setup of the standard Focus ST. However, to ease the mind of fans that would rather have tail out shenanigans, the Focus RS does have a Drift Mode built in, which automatically sends most of the power to the outside wheels to cause smokey, easy drifts. So both cars are capable of some silly fun on track.
In terms of looks, the BMW M2 is clearly the better-looking car, with its gorgeously proportioned coupe body style and aggressive body work. However, the Focus RS does have a certain utilitarian aggression that is attractive. It looks like it’s fun and that’s really all that matters in this segment. But it’s immediately clear that the M2 is the more premium car. The same goes for the interior. Both cars have interiors that are extremely similar to their lower-end counterparts, but with some sportier touches to them. Both interiors are short on luxuries and emphasize performance over comfort, but the M2’s is clearly the more upscale cabin.
There’s no doubt that the BMW M2 is the better driving, better handling and better looking car of the two. But it’s also almost $20,000 more expensive. The Ford Focus RS offers similar power, similar performance and all-wheel drive grip for a base price of only $36,000. That makes the Focus RS a pretty great performance bargain. It can even be had in a similar shade of blue.