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courtesy @Devon K

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by Colin Goodwin, 21 January 2016

Ford has done a lot more than drop a very hot motor into an ordinary Focus

Many modern cars have a choice of driver modes. Usually Normal, Comfort and Sport, but only the new Ford Focus RS has a mode called Drift. Select it and it’s hooligan time.

The dampers go to their normal setting as does the steering, but the car’s four-wheel drive system and stability control go into a special configuration that makes drifting or skidding the car a lot easier.

Obviously Ford would rather you didn’t try this on your housing estate, on a roundabout or in Tesco’s car park.

This Ford is going to be one of my favourite cars of 2016. For starters, it’s incredibly good value for money.

For £29,995 you get a four-wheel-drive hot hatch with 350bhp, a top speed of 164mph and an ability to sprint to 62mph from rest in 4.7sec.

For traditionalists, there’s a six-speed manual gearbox, and for around £299 per month you could put this on your drive.

The RS’s engine is a 2.3-litre four -cylinder unit that’s based on the motor of the same size in the Mustang, but for the Focus it has a new cylinder head, a bigger turbocharger and a few other tweaks.

Ford’s engineers have spent a lot of time getting the exhaust system right so the car sounds suitably sporty.

It’s been programmed to allow a few pops and crackles when you’re in Sport and Track modes.

It sounds great although it won’t wake your neighbours when you fire it up in the morning.

But Ford has done a lot more than drop a very hot motor into an ordinary Focus.

The RS is the proper job with huge 350mm Brembo front discs, brake cooling vents in the front bumper and special vanes on the suspension arms to channel more cold air to the brakes to cool them.

Read more: Ford tests self-drive cars in snow to ensure they react like human expert drivers

We drove the RS both on the road and on a race circuit.

On the former you’ll never overheat the brakes, but on the track, especially one with lots of tight corners at the end of fast straights, it doesn’t take many laps for the brakes to get hot and smokey.

The trouble is that at 1,599kg this is not a light car. And that’s also bad news for the tyres.

The car comes equipped with Michelin Pilot Super Sports as standard, but you can also order optional forged alloy wheels which come with stickier Michelin Cup 2 rubber.

Rest assured, if you take your Focus RS to a track day and do loads of laps thrashing around impressing your mates you will probably wear the tread away.

That’s not a cheap day out, especially on those £300-a-pop sticky Michelins. Thing is, to really appreciate this car, you do need to take it onto a track, particularly to have a try at the Drift mode.

The Focus RS is ballistically fast which, on public roads, could end up doing some serious damage to your driving licence.

It’s an easy car to drive fast for one thing and a lot of fun to do so.

Sport mode works really well on the road (Track mode is too uncomfortable) as the damping is not too uncomfortable and the steering perfectly weighted.

If you’re brave — or blessed with a lot of talent — you can turn the stability control off.

Right off, unlike most other cars where the system tells you it’s switched off but it is always there in the background to help out when things go horribly Pete Tong.

Ford says that most of the 2,300 enthusiasts who’ve ordered an RS have gone to town on extras, speccing up their cars with optional Recaro shell front seats at £1,145 a pair, a premium sound system with sat nav, blue painted brake calipers and other options.

Nitrous Blue is a popular choice but you can have your RS in black, white or grey.

I’ll bet there are a few Ford nuts out there who already own Mk1 and Mk2 Focus RSs who have ordered this new Mk3 version.

They’ve proved good places to put your money because mint versions of either are now worth the price they cost new.

Keep the mileage low on the new car, treat it like a baby and the same is likely to be the case for this latest RS.

The rivals

Audi S3

Well built, easy to live with and fast. Just lacks excitement. £31,230

Mercedes-AMG A45

Four-wheel drive and a massive 381bhp. Hasn’t the drama of the Ford or the affordable price tag. Still a stonking car. £39,995

Volkswagen Golf R

Refined and potent. Brilliant everyday high performance transport. £30,820

Ford Focus RS is at home on the street or the race track and is good value for money - Colin Goodwin - Mirror Online
 

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Again the comparison to Audi, AMG and golf r. Honestly golf r is not even in the equation. It's primarily between rs3, A45 and RS.
 
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