What is it?
The new Ford Focus RS. And at the risk of spoiling the next thousand or so words for you, it’s about to be nothing short of a sensation for petrolheads the world over. However, given how excited we’ve been by this car during the build-up to its launch and how impressed we've been from the passenger seat, I’m not sure that’ll actually spoil much of anything for anyone who’s been paying the slightest bit of attention to the motoring press over the past year. But there you go, our colours are nailed to the mast: it’s brilliant – and for several reasons.
Being officially launched to the press in Spain this week before right-hand drive deliveries begin in April, the new RS combines upper-echelon hot hatchback power and performance with superb handling and driver engagement and an outstanding value proposition. It’s a combination that the Blue Oval’s go-faster division, Ford Performance, formerly Team RS, consistently hits right on the bullseye, just as it did with the current Fiesta and Focus ST and both the first and second-generation Focus RS.
On this occasion, the balance has been struck with a 345bhp 2.3-litre Ecoboost petrol engine and a four-wheel drive system that between them deliver sub-five-second 0-62mph sprinting. That's allied to a cracking hardcore suspension set-up that brings first-order grip and agility and a £29,995 asking price that undercuts every one of the car’s serious rivals – and some by a wide margin.
On top of which the new Focus RS adds something that even its £40,000 rivals from Audi and Mercedes-AMG fail to provide: throttle-adjustable handling freakishly similar to that of a proper rear-driven sports car, courtesy of one of the most advanced asymmetrical ‘active’ four-wheel drive systems available on the market at any price.