Parkers overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5

Ford has spent a huge amount of money developing the Focus RS, but you’ll notice very little when you’re sat in the cabin. In fact, if it wasn’t for the extra gauges and such, you wouldn’t have any idea you’re behind the wheel of something so special. The seats are a strong indication of performance potential, and they’re very supportive indeed. There’s some blue stitching on the steering wheel to remind you what you’ve paid for, but everything else carries over directly from the Focus ST.

While that might seem like a shame, especially when looking at the cabin of the Audi RS3, it’s worth remembering where Ford’s priorities lie here. This car is about driving, and the crucial bits are exactly where they need to be, even on a regular Focus.

We were particularly impressed with the layout of the pedals, which are wonderfully spaced should you want to use advanced driving techniques to match the engine’s revs to your road speed when changing gear. In Sport mode you’ll get some neat bangs from the exhaust when you do so, and it’s difficult not to like that.

The first thing to note is this is unashamedly a sports-focused Focus. The low-profile tyres and stiff suspension are going to make for bumpy progress in the UK, but most owners will put up with it for the sheer performance on offer here. Just keep those two-stage dampers out of their stiffer mode because on most British roads that’s likely to make the RS a real unruly animal.

We loved the standard seats, though. They’re beautifully finished and supportive, albeit sitting slightly higher up than we were expecting. Less comfortable (and even higher on initial test) were the optional Recaro racing seats, but alas they’ve proven popular with those who have ordered the car so far. Clearly such customers have performance driving in mind.

It isn’t a quiet car either, even in Normal mode, but this is a 345bhp superhatch. They’re supposed to be noisy.