Currently reading: Ford Sierra RS Cosworth buying guide
If there was one car that our testers yearned to drive in our Fast Ford Special, it was the Cosworth

If there was one car more than any other that our testers yearned to drive on the near-deserted B-roads that score across this part of Powys, it was the Sierra RS Cosworth.

Conceived to let Ford meet touring car racing homologation rules, then also pressed into service for rallying after the demise of Group B, the Cosworth was the pin-up alternative to a supercar for a generation. It was attainable filth – more ‘reader’s wife’ than ‘playmate of the month’. Or something.

Today, they’re becoming less attainable by the minute. As I write, there are more than 40 ‘RS Cosworth’-badged Fords for sale on Pistonheads, but only five of them are three-door Sierras like this.

Most sport aftermarket alloys. One has more than 500bhp. You can get one for £10k, but you’ll need £15,000 for a good original one and £20,000 for a terrific one. You can add £5000 to that for one of the 500 Tickford-modified RS500s, too.

Do so, and what do you get? It depends. Ford’s own RS Cosworth is in lovely condition for its age and mileage, but after well over 20 years, things inevitably start to sag. You can feel it. The bushes are getting tired and loose. This RS isn’t at the ‘don’t meet your heroes’ stage just yet, but there is a point where an old car, regardless of how it felt as a new car, feels it.

But once you’re past the slack in the steering just off straight-ahead, the RS still has some moves. It helps that its steering wheel is one of the finest in motordom to hold, and it still expertly filters back messages from the grippy front end.

The gearshift is precise, if a touch sticky, and the engine still feels strong. Traction is good, too, or so I think, until across a wet but not streaming road the back wheels lose grip in fourth gear. But while the RS is a little rough around the edges, the potential to have a good time is all still here. Then, as now, few ’80s icons beat the RS Cosworth.


Price £15,590; Dates produced 1985-1987; Top speed 145mph (as tested); 0-60mph 6.2sec (as tested); Economy 23.5mpg; CO2 na; Kerb weight 1216kg; Engine type 4 cyls in line, 1994cc, turbocharged petrol; Power 204bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 205lb ft at 4500rpm; Gearbox 5-spd manual

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Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes. 

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Citytiger 4 February 2012

Re: Ford Sierra RS Cosworth

Why no fast Mondeo, the ST200 and ST220 where very fine cars, and far better than their mainstream rivals, and surely they are the direct descendants of Sierra

artill 4 February 2012

Re: Ford Sierra RS Cosworth

its good of Ford to lend you their car, but you would think they would maintain it properly. How hard would it be to replace those worn bushes etc?

Mario B 4 February 2012

Re: Ford Sierra RS Cosworth

Yea, it makes me want to see something like Lambo or Ferrari announcing that they have just given Fred Bloggs a new Galardo or 458 as he has done 100,000 miles since he bought it new 3 years ago. ( 430 of course in the case of Ferrari)