No giant rear wing, wheel arches you have to stare at to even notic, not a drop of Kermit green paint in sight… this, you will have gathered, is a Ford Focus RS for a different kind of audience.

Insiders say the reason for Ford's renewed appetite for performance cars - aside from an increasingly positive profit and loss chart - is that they are considered the most effective way of conveying technical leadership. A Ford GT with an Ecoboost engine has a halo effect on all Ecoboost-engined cars. A Focus RS with an innovative four-wheel drive system showcases technical skills across the entire range. And so on.

Tallying that thinking with comic book styling would have been as hard as it would have been foolish. There's an intensity about Ford these days that hints at an understanding of how long-term goals are more important than short-term headlines. Now technology - and not paint colours - are doing the talking.