The Top Budget Ford Focus ST/RS Upgrades
Last Updated: June 1, 2022
For years, the only enthusiast vehicle you could buy from Ford was the Mustang. However, in 2013, US enthusiasts got something seriously fun to work with: the Ford Focus ST. While we had been able to get the Focus until then, it had never truly been the enthusiast car we had wanted. With the limited success of the SVT Focus back in the early 2000s, it had been over a decade since the last hot hatch from the blue oval brand. The return of the hot hatch brought out all-new enthusiasts with the manual-only setup, turbocharged 2.0L engine, and 252 horsepower that brought something new to the market. Dominated by the MazdaSpeed3, Golf GTI, and Subaru WRX, the Focus ST offered a breath of fresh air for the hatchback enthusiast.
As good as the Focus ST was, it was not enough for some buyers. There was a tier above the ST filled with higher-level vehicles that offered serious performance that an ST just couldn’t meet. Vehicles like the Golf R, Mercedes-AMG GLA45, MINI JCW, and the 2016 arrival of the Honda Civic Type R priced above all the front-drive vehicles and as a result Ford went even further. With the 2016 Focus RS, Ford brought out what essentially was a road-legal rallycar fitted with a 2.3L turbo motor pushing 350 horsepower, drift mode, and factory Recaro seats to hold the driver and passengers in place. While it suffered from some reliability problems early on, the RS is still regarded as one of the best hot hatches of the past decade.
Budget Ford Focus ST/RS Induction
When modifying your Ford hot hatch, you have a few upgrades that are absolute must-do parts. For example, when you are modifying your Ford Focus ST, you are going to want to increase air flow into your engine. The Steeda Focus ST Cold Air Intake is an incredible way to keep engine temperatures down, draw in more air, and add some under-the-hood style. This is a cheap part to buy and is proven to give 10 horsepower to the wheel even without a tune. This intake connects directly into the engine, fits both the 2013-2014 and the 2015-2018 generations of the model.
For the RS, proper air flow is even more important than on the ST. The larger engine creates nearly 100 more horsepower through higher boost and as a result must stay cool in order to not have any issues. Using a part like the Steeda Focus RS Cold Air Intake you can rest assured that you are getting the maximum air flow for one of the lowest prices on the market. This intake can net up to 16 horsepower to the wheel over the stock system. This intake brings in more cold air to the engine than many others and looks incredible when not in use.
Budget Ford Focus ST/RS Exhaust
Like most hot hatchbacks and tuner cars, exhaust is massively important for most owners. While these cars had decent-sounding exhaust from the factory floor, the potential for much more impressive sound was an easy one to reach. The Focus ST is a good sounding car, and depending on the volume of the exhaust you want can free up additional horsepower too. One of the best “bargain” exhaust options is the AWE Track Edition Cat-Back exhaust. Loud, free-flowing, and one of the more affordable options on the market, the AWE Track Edition is just about what any tuner car owner could want. This won't give you the high-pitched noise associated with many 2.0L cars, but the bassy note will definitely get attention.
For a car like the Focus RS, louder is not always the better way to go. While yes the car sounds great with a loud exhaust, the best value exhaust comes in the form of the AWE Focus RS Resonated Touring Cat-Back. This still allows the backfires that the owners of these cars love while giving it a racier exhaust note. As good as it sounds, this exhaust will not make your car obscenely loud like some others do. This is also on the less expensive end of the Focus RS Cat Back spectrum and stay in the relatively affordable range for most owners.
Budget Ford Focus ST/RS Suspension
For anyone intending to modify their Focus ST or Focus RS, regardless of whether you want to improve your handling or you simply want a lower suspension, bringing your car lower to the ground is a must-have upgrade. In the Focus ST, lowering springs like the Steeda Focus ST Lowering Springs will improve your car’s handling immediately. A proper set of springs and other suspension upgrades car combat the understeer these cars generate. Lowering the Focus ST improves the center of gravity as well as improving cornering at the same time.
The same can be said for owners of the Focus RS when it comes to lowering springs and their uses. Like the ST, the RS suffers from factory understeer and the Steeda Focus RS Lowering Springs help reduce it as well as making the car more responsive under aggressive use on the race track. With the more in-tune suspension from lowering the car, your Focus RS will handle the way it was intended to - as one of the best modern hot hatches. This is a simple upgrade that has massive benefits in a car like the RS. With a vehicle punching so far above its class already, small upgrades like this are all it will take to move it into a class with some seriously heavy hitters.
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