In the mid-nineties Ford fans were coming to terms with the announcement that the legendary Escort RS Cosworth would cease production, but were promised its replacement model, the Focus RS, would be something to behold. It was eventually launched in 2002, but it only came with a two litre turbo, straight-4 engine producing 212bhp… and it was front wheel drive. Not quite what the Ford enthusiasts were anticipating, but we all know you need to get behind the wheel of one of these things to really understand what it’s all about.
Following on from poor sales of the Racing Puma, Ford decided to resurrect the RS badge for the Focus with a view to once again bolster interest in new fast Fords. A limited number of 4,501 cars were built over a 13 month period, with 2,147 of those ending up in the UK. Visually it was somewhat dissimilar to the standard Focus, with the defining external features being wider wheel arches, upgraded front and rear bumpers, unique O.Z. 18 inch alloys, and the Imperial Blue paintwork (the only colour it came in). Once inside it was very apparent that this Focus was a little out of the ordinary; Sparco bucket seats, aluminium and carbon fibre fittings, a blue steering wheel and a green starter button all combining to give you a sports car feel for Ford Focus money. It truly manages to unleash the inner boy-racer, just as a Ford RS should.
In reality this was anything but a standard Focus. In fact, over 70% of mechanical parts were upgraded or replaced to take performance to the next level. 0-60 was dealt with in a brisk 6.2 seconds, but it was the handling that really set this car apart from its competition. Automatic torque biasing differential meant you could throw it into any corner at any speed and come out smiling. If you could deal with the torque steer grumbles then it was perfect for an exhilarating thrash around the country roads, or even to take out to a local track day. Ford were well on the way to getting back to their best with this one.
So will this early 21st Century RS be considered a classic in the future?
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