Fire breathing hatch
It is impossible to buy any other car that can match the Ford Focus RS for the same money.
For the new Ford Focus RS is not just a hot hatch - it is a four-wheel-drive 345bhp supercar that delivers blistering performance for family car money.
It is a real bargain and for me sits right at the top of the hot hatch tree.
With its wild looks, stunning performance and supreme handling, you would have to spend at least ten grand more to try and match it and even then you would have a very limited choice.
It is a mega hatch that looks great, sounds fabulous as well as being affordable and is almost as practical as any other Focus.
It has the firepower to defeat any of its rivals, is well built and has bags of kit and its turbocharged engine packs huge punch and makes all the right noises.
The only downside is that you will have so much fun it could do serious harm to your licence and fuel bill.
This is the third Focus to sport the RS badge and it is powered by the same 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine that features in the company’s Mustang muscle car, but it has been tuned even further to deliver even more power.
With 345bhp on tap the fastest ever RS model sprints to 62mph in just 4.7 seconds and thunders on to an impressive 165mph.
And thanks to its clever fourwheel drive system you can keep it in a straight line.
It looks mean from any angle and other motorists are instantly aware that the RS is no ordinary Focus.
It stands out thanks to a huge grille with matt black surround, a front splitter, muscular and bulging wheel arches and a substantial tailgate spoiler that helps to keep it glued to the road.
Large 19-inch alloy wheels and twin tailpipes help to create a rally car look but all the design features have purpose.
The interior is also pretty impressive with body-hugging Recaro sports seats, a new flatbottomed steering wheel, alloy pedals and the RS colour scheme.
You also get an extra bank of gauges and Ford’s SYNC connectivity system which provides access to audio, sat nav, climate control and mobile phones via voice control or the eight-inch colour touchscreen and the Sony 10-speaker sound system.
Wedged into the Recaro seats you can then select from a number of drive modes. These include Normal and Sport as well as Track and Drift which are designed to turn the fun up another notch.
If on the other hand you are not in the mood, the RS will cope with everyday motoring. Yes the ride is firm but it is not harsh enough to make you wish you had settled for a lesser Focus.
The RS will always attract attention because of its macho looks and distinctive soundtrack but it is happy enough to go about its business within the speed limits.
But when you do decide to have some fun it is magnificent. Choose your drive mode and then make full use of the slick six-speed manual gearbox to push it to your limit.
If you really want a quick getaway, there is a launch control button to help you manage it. You would need to be on a track day to fully appreciate all of the driving modes and that is where you will need to go if you really want to play hard safely.
Otherwise you will just have to enjoy the fantastic performance, steering and braking as best you can on normal roads.
If you behave yourself you still won’t get near the claimed 36.7mpg figure but I averaged just under 28mpg which is not bad for a car of this substance.
The standard RS costs £32,265 to put on the road and you can add a luxury pack for a further £1,000 that will give you powerfold door mirrors, rear parking sensors, a key free system, cruise control with speed limiter and privacy glass.
Another £325 buys the winter pack with heated front seats and steering wheel and £200 more gets you Active City Stop. If you want a sunroof it will cost you £575.
This is the best RS yet and you would have to spend considerably more cash to find anything that would even come close to matching it.
£32,265 345bhp, 2,298cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving four wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox 165mph 4.7 seconds 36.7 Insurance group: 40 175g/km 30% 3yrs/ 60,000 miles
Hot stuff The Focus RS delivers blistering road performance