There's no deny­ing it: 2016 has been the year of the hot hatch. With a contingent of hy­per-speed hatch­backs from the likes of Audi and Mercedes-AMG, small su­per­cars have come into their own, thanks to all-wheel drive and vastly pow­er­ful tur­bocharged en­gin

GQ (Australia) - - MOTOR -

DRIV­ING This is the Fo­cus RS’S call­ing card. Its all-wheel-drive sys­tem and su­per-sticky tyres grip with the vim of a mag­netic limpet, hurl­ing you along al­most any road sur­face with no real penalty, bar­ring a lit­tle wig­gle if the sta­bil­ity con­trol is backed off. Plant­ing your foot of­fers a mo­ment’s re­pose be­fore the turbo spools up and fires you into the mid­dle distance at breath­tak­ing, cackle-in­duc­ing speed. The feed­back is incredibly sharp and, ahem, fo­cused, a bliss­ful re­minder of how good steer­ing feel can be. Its tech in­volves, rather than in­su­lates, the driver. EN­GINE The RS fol­lows the mod­ern su­per-hatch for­mula: a huge tur­bocharger, bolted to a small en­gine, pro­duc­ing ab­surd out­puts – 257kw and 440Nm. The RS pow­er­plant sits be­tween Audi and Mercedes-amg’s ef­forts in terms of dis­place­ment and cylin­ders – big­ger than the A 45, at 2.3 litres, but smaller (and one cylin­der down) on the 2.5-litre, five-cylin­der RS 3. It’s an ab­so­lute tower of power, de­liv­er­ing a giddy, boosted rush to the rev lim­iter. At small throt­tle open­ings, it’s a docile crea­ture, but loosen things up a bit and pre­pare to sur­ren­der your li­cence. PRICE/DE­LIV­ERY Let’s get this out of the way be­fore any fur­ther ado: the Fo­cus RS is per­haps the best per­for­mance bar­gain on the mar­ket right now. Sure, you can get higher out­puts (and def­i­nitely a more up­mar­ket ex­pe­ri­ence) from the Audi RS 3 and Mercedes-amg A 45 but, for just $50,990, you won’t find a true hy­per hatch any cheaper than the fast Ford. Un­sur­pris­ingly, this means that the wait­ing list for the Fo­cus RS stretches for months. STYLING Well, it’s not ex­actly a wall­flower. Es­pe­cially in the iri­des­cent ‘Nitrous’ blue, with at­ten­dant 19-inch wheels and gi­gan­tic rear spoiler, ex­pect a lot of at­ten­tion – be it from pedes­tri­ans or police. Twin ex­haust pipes, large enough to lose a grape­fruit in, com­mand their own kind of at­ten­tion when they’re splut­ter­ing like a Spit­fire on throt­tle-off mo­ments. It’s a def­i­nite boyracer’s car, as sub­tle as a sledge­ham­mer and just as fun to wield. IN­TE­RIOR The fa­mil­iar Fo­cus cabin feels pretty dour com­pared to its Euro ri­vals. That said, there are plenty of soft-touch sur­faces and it feels like it’s built prop­erly – there aren’t any er­rant squeaks or rat­tles like Fords of old. Slim rac­ing seats and a lot of RS badg­ing re­mind you that you’re in the most po­tent Fo­cus but, at the speeds it can carry, you’re best off look­ing out the wind­screen.


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