First things first, though, because ours isn’t quite a £30,000 car. Having been launched at £29,995, the base retail price for an RS is now £31,250 (or £31,000 when this one was registered). On top of that, our car comes with a few choice options that will most likely be added by many buyers. Most obvious is the Nitrous Blue paint, a £745 option that gives a much more vibrant look. The RS can appear a little plain in grey or black, and certainly so in the company of its brutish predecessors, so expect to see a lot of the Mk3 RSs in blue to restore the visual drama.
In addition, we have matching painted brake calipers (£100), the Luxury Pack (including power mirrors, rear parking sensors and cruise control) for £1000 and the £1145 Recaro front seats. Previous experience suggests the seats are very supportive but mounted too high, so it will interesting to see how that manifests itself day to day.
You’ll also notice the black forged wheels, which add another £595. To these eyes they’re another musthave, suiting the car better than the standard wheels. Both are 19in in diameter, a size that still seems rather barmy on a Ford Focus.
That lot makes this RS a £35,000 car, which is a somewhat pricier proposition but still competitive, given the performance. An Audi RS3, remember, with barely another 20bhp and a less advanced four-wheel drive system, is £40,000 before any options are added.
Given the demand for the Focus RS, we’ve had to wait quite a while to get hold of one. It also means this car already has just under 11,000 miles on the clock. Still, at least we don’t have to worry about running it in…
Because when you have three months with a Focus RS, it really is imperative to drive it at every opportunity. Inevitably it will be compared with its contemporaries and will most likely find its way onto a track on occasion, but it also needs to work day to day on the road. Can it feel special at ordinary speeds? And as a more mature hot hatch than the Focus RS has ever been, can it still entertain on those cheeky B-road blasts that define the modern fast Ford?
Initial impressions are largely positive. These will be investigated more thoroughly over the coming weeks, of course, but there’s no doubting the Focus’s tremendous speed and thuggish character. There’s a sense of aggression and purpose to the car, from the way it rides to the way it sounds. Certainly it feels like a more serious prospect han the relatively soft ST, as you would expect.
Early downsides? The seats are most certainly set too high, although there are rumours of a dealer-fit option to address that – and being perched so high up means you spend less time looking at the low-rent dashboard. Interestingly, Ford has already introduced an updated Sync 3 infotainment system that supersedes the £465 Sync 2 in this car; we’ll aim to try a car so equipped to see how they compare. The boot seems a little pokey, too.
Despite all that, there’s strong demand for the Focus’s key, to the point that it will be out of my hands by the time you read this. Whoever’s behind the wheel looks set to have a great time, though – but just how great we’ll aim to answer soon.
FORD FOCUS RS
Price £31,000 Price as tested £35,135 Options RS Recaro seats £1145, Luxury Pack £1000, Nitrous Blue paint £745, 19in forged black alloys £595, Ford Sync2 multimedia system £465, painted calipers £100, door edge protectors £85 Economy 30.6mpg Faults None Expenses None