The all-new Ford Focus RS is set to redefine the hot hatchback genre when it arrives next year. It'll be the latest in a long line of RS-branded Ford models and, luckily, the used car market has one to suit every budget.
1 - Ford Sapphire RS Cosworth (1988-1992)
Prices for Sierra Cosworths have skyrocketed in the past year or so. With RS500s now commanding well in excess of £60,000 and good examples of the ‘normal’ three-door Cossie comfortably topping £30,000, the Sapphire looks a relative bargain.
Sharing the same 2.0-litre turbocharged ‘YB’ lump as the earlier cars and later Escort Cosworth, the Sapphire was intended to provide a stiffer platform for rallying. Early cars were rear drive, but in 1990 four-wheel drive became standard. You can pick up a minter for less than £15,000 and project cars are much, much cheaper.
2 - Ford Focus RS Mk1 (2002-2003)
Few modern hot hatches seem to court as much controversy as the Mk1 Focus RS. Depending on what you read or who you talk to, it’s either one of the most entertaining front-drive chassis of this century or a torque-steering liability.
Still, with modern cars more insulating than ever, lots of people see the appeal of the raw RS. Thanks to a nominal 212bhp and standard limited-slip diff, 0-60mph falls in just 5.9sec, and it looks like it just drove off a rally stage.
Ford made 4501 examples, and a good chunk of them still live. About £7000 will net you a high-mileage car, but budget nearer £10,000 for a tidy one.
3 - Ford RS200 (1984-1986)