The world of hot hatchbacks is getting crowded. There are entry-level choices, such as the Kia Procee'd GT or Seat Leon FR, mid-level contenders including the Ford Focus ST and Ford Fiesta ST – our current Hot Hatchback of the Year – and then there's the top field, dominated by the Honda Civic Type R, Audi S3 and Ford Focus RS.
The Focus RS isn't just entertaining to drive fast - it's also easy to live with and has the kind of handling that can make any driver feel like a hero. At £31,000, there are cheaper hatchbacks to choose from, but very few are as good as this fast Ford. If rival choices don't get your blood pumping, this certainly will.
Here are 10 reasons to put a Ford Focus RS on your driveway.
10 reasons to buy a Ford Focus RS
10. Pure power
Under the bonnet of the Focus RS is the same 2.3-litre petrol engine you can have in the Ford Mustang sports car. This means the Focus RS gets a heady 345bhp - more than most of its rivals - meaning a 0-62mph sprint takes less than 5sec.
9. Drift mode
Under normal circumstances, the Focus RS has four-wheel drive. Press a special button on the dashboard, though, and most of the car's power gets sent to the rear wheels. If you like going sideways, drift mode makes it very easy.
8. Heroic handling
The Focus RS doesn't just glorify its driver, it makes you feel like a hero. It can grip around corners harder and for longer than most of its rivals, and gives drivers the confidence to push past their normal comfort zones. There's a playful edge to its handling, too, which will satisfy even the purist of enthusiasts.
The Focus RS gets the same basic cabin layout as the regular Focus, albeit with the addition of part-leather Recaro sports seats. An 8.0in colour infotainment system is standard, and the RS gets extra gauges to show oil pressure, oil temperature and turbocharger boost.
6. Daily driver
Part of the appeal of the Focus RS is that it's practical enough to be used every day. There's seating for five inside - although middle seat passengers will be uncomfortable - and a usable boot on offer. If you've got a small family but also want to have fun on the road, the Focus RS should suit you well.
While £31,000 might seem a lot for a Ford Focus, it's actually cheaper than the vast majority of its rivals. Because of its cult status, discounts are very rare, but the good news is that you'll get most of your money back when it comes to selling the car on.
The Focus RS comes as standard with two-phase dampers. These make the car comfortable enough in the softer setting to satisfy most drivers, and also do a good job of softening any harsh bumps - impressive considering the car's somewhat savage nature.
The Focus RS is known all over the world, and buying one will secure your entry into a global car club. There are plenty of owner forums online dedicated to the car, and its likely that you'll quickly want to get involved with a local car meet-up.
While its engine might not feel as explosively fast as some rivals, the Focus RS's Ecoboost unit does a good job of delivering flexible power. It arrives smoothly rather than all at once, and there's plenty of mid-range pulling power.
Forward visibility from the Focus RS is very good, but looking through the rear window is hampered by chunky pillars. However, you can specify rear parking sensors with Ford's Luxury Pack, which also brings keyless start and cruise control.
What about buying used?
The Focus RS has only been on sale for a few months, meaning that trying to find one on the used car market will be a fruitless search. Don't despair, though, because this isn't the first Focus RS to go on sale - there are two previous generations to choose from as well, and both are well coveted by hot hatchback fans.
You can get an early Focus RS for around £8000, but for a second-generation model with less than 50,000 miles on the clock you'll be looking at about £18,500. As ever with performance-oriented models, it's worth taking extra time to make sure they have been cared for properly. Check that all servicing and maintenance has been carried out, and that owner has the documents to prove it. Vehicles like this are more likely to have been tuned or modified, so be sure the owner tells you about any aftermarket work they've had done.
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