History of the Ford RS

With the new Ford Focus RS being released this year, the 2016 model is the latest in a long line of RS cars that have shaped automotive history. As petrol heads we love performance and the Ford RS have always delivered this and then some over the last 5 decades. We might like what we see with the new Focus RS (actually, we love what we have seen so far!) but what about the models that came before it? Let’s dive in the Ford RS history to see how the performance range has evolved over the years.

In the Beginning

1968 was the year and the Ford Escort RS1600 was the model.

In a way the RS1600 changed performance cars and is an important part of the Ford RS history. It entered the market at an affordable price tag and kick started the performance with practicality balance that the RS range has been so renowned for. With 120bhp it set the stage for the Escort RS2000 and the very successful RS1800 World Rally Car.

RS2000 Escort
1973 – Escort RS2000

The RS200 followed in the 1980’s with a 4-wheel-drive system in a bid to match its rivals from Peugeot and Audi but it was not as competitive as Ford anticipated due to poor turbo lag and power-to-weight ratio.

Upping The Performance

The 1990’s seen a new era in the Ford RS history as the performance was increased with new technology.

Sierra Cosworth 4x4
1990 – Sierra RS Cosworth 4×4
Escort RS Cosworth
1992 – Escort Cosworth

In 1992 the Ford Escort RS Cosworth hit the market and was based on the success of the Ford Sierra RS Cosworth. With a 227bhp 2.0-litre Cosworth tuned engine and a Garrett turbocharger the vehicle could nearly hit speeds of 150mph. The Escort RS Cosworth is still popular with enthusiasts today and while it might pale in comparison to the specs of the new RS it was a beast back in the 90s. It had the same 0 to 60 performance as the Ferrari 348 and marked a change in upping the performance of the RS models which led to vastly increased specs as we entered the new millennium.

The 21st Century

So many Ford cars shaped the RS line however it was in the early noughties that we came to realise just how powerful Ford could make its RS range.

The RS Mk1 in 2002 and the RS Mk2 in 2007 has set the benchmark for Ford performance cars.

Mk1 Focus RS
2002 – Focus RS
Mk2 Focus RS
2009 – Ford Focus RS

The highly aggressive style, handling and performance influenced countless other models but has set the RS as the king of performance over value. The RS Mk1 might have fallen just short of the Subaru Impreza and the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo in performance but it did something that the Ford RS range is still celebrated for today – cracking performance with affordability.

The Ford RS History

There have been no fewer than 30 cars that have carried the RS badge and we have shown some of the best and most influential.

If the new 2016 Ford Focus RS is anything to go by it looks likely that this particular range isn’t going to slow down anytime soon.

In saying that, we’d love to get our hands on an Escort RS Cosworth – just for old times sake.


The Ford RS Story

Ford RS History
A history of high performance and technology innovation

Register Now

The Mk3 Focus RS Club is run by genuine enthusiasts with a real pasion for the RS line. We are creating a special community for a very special car. Come be a part of it.