When the BMW M2 first debuted, many comparisons were drawn between it and the Ford Focus RS. The reason for that slightly odd comparison is that both put out similar power and performance figures and came out at around the same time. However, the Focus RS undercuts the BMW M2 by quite a lot, in terms of price, so it’s the more attractive package to many potential buyers. However, there’s also another player in the game, one that’s a bit older, that also puts out similar power and performance numbers but competes with the M2 in price as well, the Audi RS3.
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All three cars are blisteringly fast, all three cars are incredibly capable on the track and all three cars are fun to drive. But which is best? Well, Auto Express drove all three to find out.
In terms of power, all three cars develop similar levels of horsepower, with the BMW M2 making 365 hp, the Ford Focus RS making 350 hp and the Audi RS3 making 362 hp. So they’re all in the same ballpark. It’s also funny how all of their engines are inline turbocharged engines with increasing cylinder counts. The Ford Focus RS uses a turbocharged 2.3 liter inline-four, the Audi RS3 uses a turbocharged 2.5 liter inline-five and the BMW M2 uses a turbocharged 3.0 liter inline-six.
The BMW and Audi were mated to seven-speed dual-clutch gearboxes for this test while the Ford uses a six-speed manual. The BMW M2 is available with a six-speed manual but the Audi RS3 is not and is dual-clutch-only. Both the Ford Focus RS and Audi RS3 are all-wheel drive, while the BMW M2 is rear-wheel drive. So while these cars have similar engines and power, the way they actually drive is very different. So let’s see how they stack up.
Let’s start with the Audi RS3, which took third place in this test. Auto Express gives a familiar review of the RS3, as it’s been out for some time now, and it’s that the RS3 is a very fast car with a brilliant engine and gearbox and sensational all-wheel drive grip. However, the steering is numb and uninspiring and so is the chassis, so it never ends up being much fun. It’s blisteringly fast and immensely capable, but it just doesn’t get the blood pumping like the other two do. However, it’s probably the best daily driver, as it’s suspension is surprisingly comfortable and it’s by far the best in bad weather. But these are sports cars and they need to be fun, something the RS3 really isn’t in this company.
The BMW M2 actually takes second place in this comparison. Its chassis is said to be brilliant, the best of the bunch, and its steering is great, as is its engine. It’s probably the most fun to drive, with the Focus RS trailing it by just a bit. It also has a great cabin, a big trunk and great everyday livability. Oh, and it’s the only car here that’s rear-wheel drive, the way sports cars are meant to be. However, according to Auto Express, it’s not enough to overcome its £16,580 ($23,884) price disadvantage. Many folks would be willing to spend that extra for its rear-wheel drive chassis and brilliant steering (this guy), but it’s very hard to ignore the Focus RS’ performance/value proposition.
So that means the Ford Focus RS takes first place. Its buzzy little engine, that’s as punchy as it is small, six-speed manual and tenacious all-wheel drive traction make the Focus RS a blast to drive. It’s been said that it could possibly be the best hot hatch on the market and the best one in decades, it’s that good. So mix that in with its hatchback practicality and great price and you’ve got a sports car that’s tough to beat.
[Source: Auto Express]