Ford ST vs RS: how do they compare?

The letters ‘RS’ have become synonymous with speed, power and performance in the ranks of the Ford Motor Company for years, with the added craftsmanship and attention to detail helping the blue oval to build a formidable reputation on the rallying scene. However, in recent years, there’s been the arrival of another two letters that suggest superb performance; the ST also now holds healthy acclaim in the world of motoring. This raises a very important question: which is the better choice? Fortunately, this is exactly what we’re looking to answer in this guide.

The History of the Ford RS

The RS badge holds a great sporting tradition, renowned for offering outstanding road performance and road safety. It’s a badge which has never been applied lightly, meaning that customers understand that it really is the real deal. But what does RS stand for?

The RS (Rallye Sport) badge was first seen on the RS1600, a model which was admired the world over following its release back in 1970. A high-performance sibling of the timeless Ford Escort, it featured a 1.6L engine and 16-valve Cosworth cylinder head, a powerful combination which helped the model rack up many rally and racing victories during the period.

While the Escort is the model which has benefitted the most from the stature of the RS badge, other models include the Sierra, Capri, Fiesta and, more recently, the Focus. The most sought-after RS of them all is the RS200, of which just 200 road legal versions were ever built between 1984 and 1986. With a 1.8L, 237bhp engine and an overall weight of just 1,180kg, the RS200 could propel from 0-60mph in just 5 seconds and reach a top speed of 142mph.

The Rise of the ST

While the stature of the RS has never faded, Ford looked to provide a new offering in performance motoring with the ST label. ST stands for Sports Technologies and serves as an improved version of the company’s traditional models. While most famous for its use on the Focus, it has also been added to the Fiesta and Mondeo to great effect in the past.

The new Ford models which receive the ST treatment are noticeably different from the standard variants, with a different body kit, decals and alloy wheels among the aesthetics which sets them apart from others. Behind the exterior, the ST models are built with performance at heart, with the Focus ST for example receiving a powerful 2.0L EcoBoost to provide 247bhp and a top speed of 155mph. Every aspect is geared towards providing the best experience on the road; from the roaring exhaust to the meticulously examined gear ratios which are tuned for each engine resulting in an on-road experience you will never get tired of.

How do they compare?

You can’t argue with the numbers; here are a few key facts about both so you can directly compare the two. We’ve used stats from the new 2019 Ford Focus RS.

2019 Ford Focus RS:

  • Engine: 2.3L EcoBoost Turbo.
  • Horsepower: 400bhp.
  • Top Speed: 165mph
  • 0-60mph: 4.5 seconds

2019 Ford Focus ST:

  • Engine: 2.3L EcoBoost engine
  • Horsepower: 276bhp
  • Top Speed: 155mph (Estimated)
  • 0-60mph: 5.9 seconds

What does RS stand for, for Ford cars?

RS stands for 'Rallye Sport'. It was first introduced in 1970 for the Escort RS1600.

What does ST stand for, for Ford cars?

ST stands for 'Sport tuned' and is built with heavy performance and speed.

Which is the better choice?

While both the RS and ST are acclaimed for outstanding performance, they are in fact very different and to say they are the same would be like saying Ferrari and Porsche are the same; they’re both great and you wouldn’t say no to owning one, but their differences mean that you’ll probably have a preference.

It’s widely held that RS models are historical and timeless of the Ford brand, a good example being the aforementioned RS200, which you could expect will cost you towards £200,000 for an immaculate model. In terms of speed, the fact that the RS models have the racing and rally pedigree means that they are certainly quicker off the mark against the ST. For example, the 400bhp Ford Focus RS from 2019 can reach a top speed of 165mph!

On the other hand, the ST class are the modern speedsters of the blue oval and are certainly a little easier to get hold of compared to the RS models; you could order one today from our Ford approved dealership in Yeovil. The other reason why the ST models may be a better choice is because of modern technology they offer in comparison, meaning drivers can benefit from the multitude of acclaimed Ford technology, while also enjoying an incredible driving experience.

One similarity which both the RS and ST models do hold is that they offer an exhilarating driving experience like no other models in the Ford offering. Unfortunately, we are unable to come to a final decision on the debate, and we would say it’s completely down to personal taste – take a test drive at one of our dealerships if you’re unsure!

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