WITH AN on-road price just over $55,000, Ford’s new hot hatch is the second cheapest car in ABC’s premium sports car class. With Ford’s Rallye Sport heritage, including RS Escorts and Sierra Cosworths, the Focus RS promises something to delight demanding drivers, and delivers in spades – think ear-to-ear grins. The 2.3-litre Ecoboost turbo engine mated to a slick six-speed manual gearbox delivers a claimed 257kW and 440Nm (470 Nm in over-boost for up to 15 seconds). There’s a launch control system for really quick getaways, and Brembo brakes to halt proceedings efficiently. The RS is equipped with all-wheel-drive, dynamic torque vectoring, sports suspension with adjustable dampers, and four selectable drive modes that vary steering, suspension, ESC and engine calibrations. The system includes a ‘track’ mode, and controversially a very effective ‘drift’ mode for tyre-frying fun. Neither is intended for public roads. Steering and dynamics impressed, although the hard-edged ride was less appealing. Judges loved the great support offered by the Recaro race-shell sports seats, although the lack of seat height adjustment was frowned on. Build and finish more akin to the average Focus models is outpointed by the prestige German brands found in this class.