Focus RS – ASBO optional

Ford Focus RS 2.3T EcoBoost, Model on test: £35,570

Ford has a strong history of reliable family hatchbacks. Back in the day, it also had a name for hot models – the RS Turbo, the XR3i and of course the Siera Cosworth. On a few occasions, Ford has brought back the RS and the slightly less insane ST marques for special editions, and hotter versions of it’s standard production cars. But is the latest motor to wear the RS badge up to scratch?

Oh. My. God. Yes.

The Focus RS is a five door, five seat, all-wheel drive hatchback, but with a monstrous 2.3 litre turbo charged powerhouse under the bonnet. Generating around 350bhp and hitting 62mph from a standing start in 4.7 seconds, this is a fantastically fast Ford. Remember the five-litre Mustang takes 4.8 seconds to do the same trick and you realise just what a machine this is.

On paper, there’s no way that the chassis should be able to handle the power – it’s a family hatchback for god’s sake – but handle it does. And it does so with aplomb. You want to drive to the shops, this will let you act normally – if you ignore the body kit and noise from those two big-bore exhausts. But when you want to act as if you have three ASBOs and don’t care, switch to sport (obviously, I wouldn’t suggest track or drift mode unless you are on a track and have a clue how to handle it) and put your foot down. This thing will not disappoint.

And it’s not as if people wont see you coming – the paintwork is stunning. Such a striking blue that I fell in love with it the moment I saw it, even when someone complained that it looked like a boy-racer had parked in our parking space. I could genuinely go on about the blistering pace this car has for most of this column, but I want to get onto a few other bits first.

Number one: how practical it is. This is, before all else, a practical five door family hatchback. It has a big boot, the seats fold, and it’s not massive to manourveur. The parking sensors and camera make parking a doddle, and access isn’t an issue – no complex gymnastics needed to get in, although the drivers bucket seat can bump you in the back a little while trying to avoid the steering wheel getting in.

Price: Okay, you can but a new Focus in base spec for less than £18k, but ideally you’d want at least the ST-line spec, and with a few bells and whistles, that will set you back around £25k and get you a 1.0 EcoBoost engine. For an extra £7k (that sounded less in my head) you get so much more power, so much more noise and so much more fun.

You also get a low more fuel consumption. This thing is thirsty. Seriously thirsty. That monstrous power unit up front and drive going to all four wheels will hit your wallet. Hard. Plus the insurance and tax aren’t going to be that friendly, but if you want performance and insane acceleration, but also need to be able to cart the family around and do a ‘big supermarket shop’ every now and again, this will let you do all of those without having to buy two cars.

So to sum up: this is a proper fire-breathing, snarling beast of a car. The noise from the exhaust is exhilarating, and it makes an awesome crackle when you let off the throttle after hard acceleration. The four wheel drive system will keep you safe, the air bags will look after you if you give it too much but you’ll be able to go shopping and sell stuff at a car boot sale in it too.

Which is just as well, because you’ll need all the petrol money you can muster.

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