Here's your complete guide to buying and owning a real-world hot Ford. This article was first published in 2012.
Mark Tisshaw
11 December 2014

How many of us can actually afford a new car? The Focus ST promises to be a highlight of 2012, but many of us don’t have a spare £25k to buy one. Fear not, because some of the best fast Fords of the past few decades can be yours for just a four-figure sum.

If you’re now looking at the Blue Oval buffet and wondering what the connection between each of them is, well, there isn’t one. Some, like the Sierra Cosworth are old, some are recent, and some, like the rare Racing Puma and Focus RS are much more limited in their availability than others. But these are the attainable fast Fords that we would spend our money on today.

Okay, so ‘fast’ may be stretching the truth when it comes to the Ford Fiesta XR2, and the Ford Focus ST Mk1 is hardly rare. But all of these cars offer an attainable slice of Ford’s performance car history.

We took the liberty of adding many hundreds of miles to our favourite used fast Fords over the finest Welsh roads simply to find out what these cars offer to the enthusiast who wants to own – and get the most out of – a real-world hot Ford.

Complete Fast Ford buying guide

Ford Sierra Cosworth

RS Cosworth is starting to feel its age, but can still deliver thrills; steering wheel is a tactile delight, seat trim is of the picnic blanket variety and its four-pot motor makes 204bhp.

Ford Racing Puma

This limited edition, 153bhp ball of fun has limitless amounts of charm and is supremely easy to fall for.

Ford Fiesta XR2

Of all the fast Fords here, the XR2 is the most basic, and none the worse for it. Peppy 1.6-litre engine makes 96bhp and unassisted steering hardwires the XR2 driver to the road.

Ford Focus ST

The ST's blend of five-pot burble, occasional rally-style bang through the exhaust, light but feelsome steering and 324lb ft of torque can turn the most sedate driver into a hooligan.

Ford Focus RS Mk1

RS produces 212bhp, but the focus here is more on handling than power; steering wheel features a useful 'this way up' marker.

Our Verdict

Ford Focus ST

The Ford Focus ST has a new four-pot motor and a diesel added to the range, but does it have what it takes to gun for the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Golf GTD?

Join the debate


4 February 2012

Great pictures that brings back a lot of memories - but out of all those desirable cars why is the one I want to drive the most the XR2?

4 February 2012

The ones I have personal fond memories of are missing - MkII Escort RS2000, Capri 2.8 injection and XR4i, although I did enjoy driving a friend's Sierra Cosworth at Silverstone until it blew a head gasket (a common problem I believe).

Why don't they make anything like this now?

4 February 2012

Interesting article, but why 2 Focuses?

And some glaring omissions - Capri 2.8 Injection (as mentioned), and Mk 1 Escort RS1600.

4 February 2012

A reminder when Ford built fast cars and was not afraid of its own shadow as it is now.

4 February 2012

has anyone driven an RS Cosworth, like, very recently?

They are in all seriousness one of the most atrocious things I have ever been in. A car many of us in our 40s would have looked longingly at having just passed our tests, but oh my giddy aunt, what a disappointment now. Crude, plasticky, hollow sounding, flimsy feeling, coarse drivetrain, flabby gearchange, and the crowning turd on the dung-heap - a Ford Sierra underneath, with a Ford Sierra interior and yesteryear driving position, just in case you weren't hating it enough. The one thing in its favour is a bit of oomph, rivalled today by your average turbodiesel with double the mpg and half the rattles.

If you've ever wondered why the anoraks who still buff these cars at weekends are a bit weird, go and find one to drive. For me atrocious 'modern classics' like this and the similarly flimsy XR2 are proof alone - as though it were needed - that this is a PR stunt organised by a company that just quadrupled its losses in Europe and needs everyone to try and remember the good times. And if this is it, gawd help them.

Sorry, am I sounding too cynical?

4 February 2012

[quote ThwartedEfforts]

..Sorry, am I sounding too cynical?


Yes, you are and permit me to join you in that OTT cynicism and add that I had a go at the first Focus RS, some time back and the car so lauded by the Autocar (and one Andrew Frankel in particular, a writer you quite admire, I think), was one of the most awful riding cars with equally appalling torque steer, even in fairly moderate driving, that I've come across. Talk about being overrated. And I say this as a Focus driver myself.

4 February 2012

Ford and Special - two words that should never be used together!

4 February 2012

[quote Marky13]

Ford and Special - two words that should never be used together!


yeah but you must have noticed Autocar have a thing for Fords. Every new Ford has massive editorial space , every other make in car test ends ... "but not as good as a Mondeo, Fiesta etc"

New Fords are built and bought for fleets, secondhand ones are the car of choice for council estates around the country

4 February 2012

[quote Autocar]Ford Focus ST....
... 324lb ft of torque can turn the most sedate driver into a hooligan.[/quote]

In that case you need a Focus RS Mk2 to become a hooligan.
The torque figure, 324, is from an RS (or a chipped ST perhaps)

4 February 2012

Not surprisingly a good old rear wheel drive escort BDA can cost 8-12K depending on the condition and the amount of spares it comes with ( or a trailer) - point is - in my very humble opinion - placing an old Escort BDA on a 12-15mile gravel Welsh stage would leave all the others mentioned here for dead. Age comes before beauty !


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