Amid all the hullabaloo surrounding the new Ford Focus RS, spare a thought for the car whose name it shared and, for most of the last seven years since it was launched, was our fave hot hatch by none.
I’ve just been driving a Mk1 Focus RS for reasons that will become clear on this website in the not too distant future and to say I was blown away by its abilities all over again is no exaggeration. Some cars age terribly but not this one. It still looks good but, more importantly, its superlative dynamics mean it would still make mincemeat out of almost any more modern hatch this side of the likes of the MkII Focus and Megane R26R.
It’s very quick of course, thanks to its 217bhp motor and slimline 1250kg kerbweight, but it is the deftness of its handling that still staggers. It steers beautifully, is expertly damped and, on the track, will recover apparently irrecoverable slides with not much more than a legful of throttle.
But the best bit about the Mk1 RS? You can buy a nice one for less than £10,000. This strikes me as both outrageous value for money and also a situation that’s unlikely to last long once the recovery is underway. Is there a better value hot hatch out there at the moment? Over to you.