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Those five stars give it away!

By Graham Scott, 22 January 2016

Let’s not try and pretend and make you wait till the end. The new Focus RS is pretty special. You get 345bhp, four-wheel drive, rapid acceleration, hardcore handling, and all for a price that will leave other manufacturers in the weeds.

That’s a lot of horsepower for this five-door hot hatch. The 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder has an angry rasp to it which tells everyone it’s not messing about. It revs freely past the point of maximum power at 6000rpm.

That free-revving output works well with the six-speed manual gearbox. It clicks happily through the gears, keeping you and the engine perfectly connected. There’s no flapping about with paddles here.

The handling is, at first glance, somewhat on the hard side. The springing is stiff, and with a short movement, so the car does bob about at lower speeds on rough roads to a degree that is very noticeable but not too off-putting. But the RS wasn’t designed for going shopping, although it will do that happily enough. To find out what it was designed for you have to find a winding, empty road and put your foot down.

The engine of course pours in the horsepower so that you can get yourself perfectly set up for a fast corner. Steering is fairly weighty and involving, you’re in the right gear because your left hand put it there, and now is the moment of truth. In Normal or Sport mode you simply fly through the corner, the car flat and true, with lots of stiffness to suspension and chassis to hold you perfectly for a slingshot out of the exit. But that’s not all.
There is Track mode which increases stability at high speed, but that’s not all either. Dial in Drift and the car will sit neutrally and then gently go into slight oversteer so that you’re dialing in a touch of opposite lock. With the power on, some cars, even other four-wheel drive cars, would start to get tetchy at this point. Not the Focus RS. Instead it allows a little oversteer and then the four-wheel drive system starts shuffling power around until it all comes gently and predictably back into line.

It does this in a deceptively gentle way that is actually rather inspired. Kudos to the engineers who achieved this, they clearly have spent many hours at the wheel, at speed.

The cabin in which the happy driver will sit has bucket seats which aren’t the last word in relaxed comfort, but they work well enough. There are plenty of RS logos and reminders around the place, but the two items you’ll use the most are the damper setting button on the left stalk and the drive mode selector which sits next to the gear lever.

Overall this gives you enormous amounts of bang for your buck. Yet it’s also practical, and would work as a day-to-day car, or a track car or just a highly effective hot-hatch. For an amount that seems entirely reasonable, Ford can now offer you all of those in one package. Demand is high, we know that, so residuals should also be high. We can’t think of a reason not to buy.

Ford Focus RS

Price: £29,995
Engine: 4 cyls, 2261cc, turbocharged, petrol
Power: 345bhp at 6000rpm
Torque: 325lb ft at 2000-4500rpm (347lb ft on overboost)
0-62mph: 4.7sec
Top speed: 165mph
Gearbox: 6-spd manual
Kerb weight: 1599kg
Economy: 36.7mpg (combined)
CO2/tax band: 175g/km, 30%

2016 Ford Focus RS, car review: This gives you enormous amounts of bang for your buck | Motoring | Lifestyle | The Independent
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