Ford Focus RS vs BMW M135i

The scorchingly fast new Focus RS battles it out with BMW's hot hatch king to determine who rules the class

Words By What Car? team

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What are they like inside?

It’s clear that most of the budget has gone into making these cars faster and better to drive than their run-of-the-mill counterparts, rather than appreciably plusher inside. The Focus RS has more bespoke touches, such as a trio of extra gauges, blue stitching, sporty, half-leather sports seats and blue-rimmed dials, but the M135i's more conservative interior is much classier. There are more soft-touch materials in the M135i, for example, while its leather upholstery feels more expensive and its switches more solid.

The M135i has the better driving position, too, placing the driver lower in the car than the Focus RS. The optional race-style bucket seats fitted to our test RS (Β£1145) aren’t height adjustable, which isn’t ideal, although they do offer loads of lateral support and the bases aren’t too firm for longer journeys. The M135i’s standard-fit leather seats cradle the driver sufficiently well, although visibility is better in the RS, particularly out of the back thanks to its larger rear window.

There’s more front leg room in the RS, but these cars are otherwise closely matched for interior space, with plenty of head room front and back and enough shoulder space for four. Rear knee room is a bit tight in both cars if one tall person is sitting behind another, but the M135i is fractionally more accommodating in this respect.

Rear access is obviously easier in the five-door-only Focus RS than in this three-door M135i, but it’s still fairly painless to get into the M135i with the front seat slid forward. A five-door version is available for an extra Β£530.

The M135i has the larger, deeper boot with the rear seats in place. The difference is less significant with the seats folded down, though, and the Focus RS can swallow slightly longer loads. Its boot also has a smaller lip at the entrance and is more symmetrical, although the M135i’s rear seats fold almost flat, whereas in the Focus RS there’s a pronounced slope unless you first flip up the seat bases.

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Ford Focus RS

What Car? Says Rated 5 out of 5
Owners say Not yet rated

The Ford Focus RS is incredibly capable and brilliant fun. It doesn't have quite the all-round talents of the Honda Civic Type R, though