Poll: Subaru WRX STI or Ford Focus RS?

Craig Cole
by Craig Cole

Which scalding-hot compact performance car do YOU prefer, the long-time-favorite Subaru WRX STI or the sexy new Ford Focus RS? Vote in our poll!

Yes, we’re pitting the latest from Dearborn against an established player, but this blue-oval brawler is more than equipped to hold its own. The Focus RS features a 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-banger that’s squeezed to within an inch of its life to deliver 350 horses and an equal measure of torque.

As God intended, a six-speed manual transmission is the only gearbox offered in this hatchback. Likewise, a performance all-wheel-drive system ensure the RS never loses its footing. This technology can route up to 100 percent of the engine’s torque to either axle and all of that to just one rear wheel if necessary.

Aggressive styling, Recaro bucket seats and unique gauges underscore this car’s race-bred lineage.

Focusing on the Subaru, it almost seems tame in comparison to the Ford. Underhood it features a 2.5-liter boxer four-cylinder engine. With a turbocharger and plenty of other go-fast tech it delivers a solid 305 horspower and 290 lb-ft of torque.

Like practically every other Subaru, all-wheel drive is standard. Keeping enthusiasts (like us) happy is a six-ratio manual gearbox for maximum driver involvement.

Not that fuel economy is a top concern in these vehicles, but surprisingly the Ford holds an edge here as well. Despite providing more horsepower and torque it stickers at 19 miles per gallon city, 25 on the highway and 22 MPG combined. The best Subaru can muster is 17 city, 23 highway, 19 combined; a Prius-beater the STI is not.

Despite falling to the Ford in several areas the WRX does have a slight pricing advantage. You can get an entry-level model for right around $36,000; a base Focus RS is about a grand more expensive.

So, which of these pocket rockets do YOU prefer? Please, compare them right here and make sure to vote in our latest poll!

Craig Cole
Craig Cole

Born and raised in metro Detroit, Craig was steeped in mechanics from childhood. He feels as much at home with a wrench or welding gun in his hand as he does behind the wheel or in front of a camera. Putting his Bachelor's Degree in Journalism to good use, he's always pumping out videos, reviews, and features for AutoGuide.com. When the workday is over, he can be found out driving his fully restored 1936 Ford V8 sedan. Craig has covered the automotive industry full time for more than 10 years and is a member of the Automotive Press Association (APA) and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).

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  • Joe D Joe D on Nov 03, 2016

    I previously owned a modded 02' wrx, stock 07' sti, stock 08' evo x, now own an RS and it's in a league of its own and tough to compare. Stock out of the box the RS outperforms these cars(depending on the driver of course) I love them all but would have to do a stage 1 flash to both the stock evo and sti to get them up to speed with the RS. Handling is a whole other story, the RS has them beat and has some sophisticated electronics that shine in any corner you turn into, very rewarding and you can really feel it working through turns, each drive mode is noticeably different as well. Ford did an awesome job, the car cracks and pops between shifts (it will not do this in normal mode) and all in all I haven't really felt anything like it. Once again in a league of its own compared to the evo and Sti, but fun factor... RS Cheers

  • Mikey N Mikey N on Nov 04, 2016

    I currently own a 2015 STi. The STi is mostly a dedicated racer that I will occasionally use for weekend duty. Previously I owned a 2010 that I raced and daily drove. I was quite excited to get the chance to give an RS a drive a few weeks ago in a competition environment. The RS is a really nice street machine that is interfered with by it's electronics when driven at the limit. This was just not my opinion but the opinion of others who also drove the RS. The STi is much less "refined" and not impeded by it's own electronics. It's very predictable at corner entry and exit where the RS was not. As a driver the RS felt slightly detached when comparing against the STi. The clutch is smooth on both vehicles. Shifting in the RS felt much better than in an STi. I prefer the driver position in the 2015+ STi to the RS, but I also like the RS's driver position to the pre 2015 STi. I do think the RS stock seats are a little more comfortable than the STi seats and felt a little firmer as well. The creature comforts in the RS are nice. I could really care less about fuel economy so this not a concern to me, but the RS is supposedly better (yes, I read the article). This being said, if I were just looking for a car that was going to be hustled around on the street I would seriously consider the Ford RS but I would probably stick with the raw driving feel of the STi again.