It’s a sentence that will make countless engineers weep, but until now the recipe for a new Ford Focus RS has been a fairly simple one: in years gone by, a slug too much power, uprated ancillaries, big wheels, a few show-off details and a thuggish rear wing just about did the trick.

So bravo to the new generation of Focus RS engineers who have stuck two fingers up to that formula and dared to do something different, harnessing all the computer processing power of the 21st century and a bit of old-school limited-slip differential know-how to create a new type of four-wheel drive system. And when I say ‘new type’ what I really mean is one that - they promise - actually enhances the driving experience rather than hinders it.

At Autocar, we like to make a lot of noise about the ‘old school’ charms of some cars. As the world’s oldest car magazine, you probably wouldn’t expect anything less. But we also continually remind ourselves to look forward, to move with the times and celebrate the forward thinking that makes the automotive industry so brilliantly fast-paced.

Now, a four-wheel-drive hot hatch may not count as ripping up the form book, but it must have taken a giant gulp of bravery from the Ford RS team to sign it off. When you have a brand with that much heritage, not to mention a reputation for simple, affordable thrills, it takes a certain bravery to head off in a new, more complex direction.