Fast and furious

Focus RS

Ford Focus RS, front action 2
Ford Focus RS, side action
Ford Focus RS, rear action
Ford Focus RS, dashboard
Ford Focus RS, front action
Ford Focus RS, full front action

ANYONE yearning to discover their inner-hooligan will be delighted to hear that the all-new third generation Ford Focus RS ticks all the right boxes.

It's fitted with the same 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine that features in the company's Mustang muscle car, but it has been enhanced even further to deliver the most exhilarating performance capabilities imaginable.

The 345bhp helps the fastest ever RS model soar to 62mph from a standing start in just 4.7 seconds which is clearly supercar territory and it maxes out at a whopping 165mph.

Plus, it has an extremely clever four-wheel drive system to keep you fully grounded all the time.

Despite coming down the same production line as the more standard Focus models the fire-breathing RS, which is priced from £29,995 (rising to a £31,000 starting price from May 1), is instantly distinguishable thanks to some outrageous design cues.

These include a huge grille with matt black surround, a prominent front splitter, muscular and bulging wheel arches and a large tailgate spoiler.

There are large 19-inch alloy wheels and twin tailpipes help to create the ultimate look that would not be out of place on the most challenging of rally circuits.

But the Ford team is quick to point out that none of the features are for appearance-only - they all serve a purpose.

The interior looks like a spaceship cockpit which, when lit up, looks magnificent.

There are body-hugging Recaro sports seats, along with more traditional Focus goodies such as SYNC 2 connectivity which provides access to audio, sat nav, climate control and mobile phones via voice control or via the eight-inch colour touchscreen. You can even ask for directions to the nearest race track.

Other techno treats include a Sony premium sound system with 10 speakers, a new flat-bottomed steering wheel and alloy pedals.

But the blue RS colour theme that runs throughout the car is a hint that this isn't just any old Focus and that suggestion is reinforced by a bank of gauges above the central console that display data such as the turbocharger boost pressure, oil temperature and oil pressure.

Then there are the Drive Modes - another first for a Ford RS model. These include Normal and Sport which we are all familiar with. However Track and Drift are something we don't come across every day and that's what makes this particular Focus really stand out.

It may have the aggressive looks of a fiery hot hatch, but it needs to have the performance capabilities to match ⦠and it does.

On normal roads the five-door, five-seater is as composed as you want it to be and despite a somewhat firm ride, it copes perfectly with everyday life moving smoothly through the six-speed manual gearbox.

Admittedly, you will get some puzzled and sometimes impressed looks from bystanders mainly due to the car's distinctive looks and accompanying soundtrack, but all in all the Focus RS can be used as a practical vehicle.

The boot is slightly smaller than the standard Focus because the all-wheel-drive system eats into its space, but that aside the car can be respectable and sensible when you want it to be, delivering combined fuel efficiency of 36.7mpg.

After 90-minutes on normal roads we were averaging 27.8mpg. Carbon emissions are 175g/km.

However, when the fancy takes you, it has a very explosive character to be explored and that means a visit to the track - Silverstone to be precise.

And its in those testing conditions that car really flexes its muscles and some of those ‘press me at your peril' buttons come into play.

There is a launch control button that keeps revs at precisely the right level to ensure fast getaways and the ear-blasting symphony of pops, burbles and bangs could probably be heard by Tim Peake on the International Space Station.

Then there is the ‘drift' mode which will allow you to slide into corners at full throttle in a controlled drift. There are no more understeer issues and higher speed bend exits are much easier to accomplish.

The connected steering as Ford likes to call it results in instant responses without any throttle, braking or steering delays and that means the car reacts the split second you do

It's these outstanding performance capabilities along with the dynamic styling that meant 3,000 orders were placed before a single model had rolled off the production line in Germany. And of those orders 61 per cent have opted for the Nitrous Blue colour and 91 per cent have added the Luxury Pack costing £1,000 extra which introduces powered windows, cruise control, privacy glass and rear sensors.

All in all, the Focus RS is a magnificent beast of a car. It can be tamed, but is happiest when unleashed to run riot - if you get my drift.

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