This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest Ford Focus RS (16-18) review.

Parkers overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5

The RS has an upgraded version of the 2.5-litre turbocharged engine found in the ST. It produces 305bhp, powering the car from 0-62mph in under six seconds. That may only be less than a second quicker than the much cheaper ST, but the RS makes up for it with incredible acceleration in higher gears. There’s a huge amount of reserve power on tap that makes quick work out of overtaking and allows the RS to make fast progress on B-roads.

The way in which the RS delivers its power will please most drivers. There’s a wide band of power across the rev range, making quick acceleration possible without changing gear, though drivers who prefer to use the revs and change gear a lot more are also rewarded – not least with an exhaust that pops on downchanges. The top speed is 164mph.

The manner in which the Focus RS copes with 300bhp being fed through the front wheels is nothing short of an engineering triumph. It’s one of the most powerful front-wheel drive cars ever built and the first time it’s been achieved in a car of this size. Although, under heavy acceleration, it’s possible to feel all that power being fed through the front wheels, it never feels unruly and is far from overwhelming.

Cornering is flat and there’s little roll. To cope with all that power, the brakes are uprated with larger discs and there is ABS, electronic brakeforce distribution and emergency brake assist. The ride is very impressive. As you’d expect, it’s firm when the car’s being driven hard and passengers may find it uncomfortable, but at all other times it’s a real surprise – as smooth at low speeds as any other Focus hatchback.

Around town, the RS can feel a bit of a handful as the steering is heavy and there’s a wide turning circle, making hard work of parking and three-point turns.