Currently reading: Fast Ford Special - buying and owning guide
Here's your complete guide to buying and owning a real-world hot Ford. This article was first published in 2012.

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.


Read our review

Car review

The Focus ST once held its own against the Golf GTI, but does it have the edge on your second-hand shortlist?

Mark Tisshaw

Title: Editor

Mark is a journalist with more than a decade of top-level experience in the automotive industry. He first joined Autocar in 2009, having previously worked in local newspapers. He has held several roles at Autocar, including news editor, deputy editor, digital editor and his current position of editor, one he has held since 2017.

From this position he oversees all of Autocar’s content across the print magazine, website, social media, video, and podcast channels, as well as our recent launch, Autocar Business. Mark regularly interviews the very top global executives in the automotive industry, telling their stories and holding them to account, meeting them at shows and events around the world.

Mark is a Car of the Year juror, a prestigious annual award that Autocar is one of the main sponsors of. He has made media appearances on the likes of the BBC, and contributed to titles including What Car?Move Electric and Pistonheads, and has written a column for The Sun.

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bomb 5 February 2012

Re: Autocar's Fast Ford Special

ThwartedEfforts wrote:
not wishing to sound like the Ford nut I'm really not, an XR2i is an entirely different beast from the XR2.

You're quite right, I meant the XR2 in the article.

The MKI Supersport was sub-XR2, not as quick but much rarer. The guy who had one near us when I was a lad was worshipped..


Volvophile 4 February 2012

Re: Autocar's Fast Ford Special

Fidji wrote:
Do you mean the 'ST170'?

Yes. I know it wasn't a good hot hatch, but it was still an ST.

ThwartedEfforts 4 February 2012

Re: Autocar's Fast Ford Special

bomb wrote:
It they wanted an interesting old Fiesta then the MKI Supersport should have been taken, rare and fun.

I had a pal who after passing his test bought a Mk I 1.1S. There was also a 1.3S, right? Was the Supersport something else? My own first car was a Mk I XR2 - in white, with those stripes, but with the crappy steel wheels and covers rather than alloys. Mind is hazy about the whole Fiesta range now.

Also on a very minor point, and not wishing to sound like the Ford nut I'm really not, an XR2i is an entirely different beast from the XR2.