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Ford Focus RS

Flawed but rewarding, the mk1 Ford Focus RS has attracted quite a following and, as a consequence, strong secondhand values

Has there ever been a more controversial hot hatch? The mk1 Focus RS launched to a wave of expectation, but press reaction was mixed to say the least. Despite this, the car has gained a real following, and values have remained strong.

Take this one. It’s a seven-year-old left-hooker, yet at £11.5K it’s priced against some far feistier performance cars of similar age. You’re getting a good example for your outlay, though. The previous keeper was Prodrive, the car being part of the development company’s private collection from its RS connections, and it has covered just under 35,000 miles.

It looks like it’s done even less. Everything about it is so close to perfect you’d think it had just rolled out of the showroom. The interior and exterior look untouched, the seats and dash being particularly impressive. The seller says no one has ever sat in the back, and I’ve no reason to doubt that.

Dynamically it feels very tight, too. The engine is particularly sweet (although with 212bhp it feels distinctly off the pace of modern hot hatches) and it’s a real hoot to drive. Yes, there’s torque steer aplenty, and the much-maligned Quaife differential feels very unwieldy compared to the trick systems that lie beneath the mk2 Focus RS and hot Méganes, but this just adds to the fun. It’s a real handful, but all the more characterful for it.

Should you buy it? It depends on your dedication. Being sat on the wrong side of the car limits your pace on some roads, and it’s priced at over half its original £20K list price. One test drive, though, and its flawed but rewarding nature could well win you over.

With thanks to vendor DK Engineering, Chorleywood (01923 287 687, www.dkeng.com)


SPECIFICATIONS
Price   £11,495
Year 2002
Mileage 34,110
Engine In-line 4-cyl, 1998cc, turbo
Max power 212bhp @ 5500rpm
Max torque 229lb ft @ 3500rpm
0-60mph 5.9sec
Top speed 144mph
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Extra Info

• Exterior
As new – even the alloys are scrape-free. A tremendously well looked after car
• Interior
Same story inside, with an immaculate dash and clean, showroom-condition seats
• Mechanicals
Ignore the torque steer and it’s a quality thing. This one’s been looked after by Prodrive, too
• Should I buy it?
If you don’t mind left-hand drive, yes. It drives well and is as original as these things get
• FOR: A charismatic hot hatch that’s destined to be a classic
• AGAINST: LHD, and for the same money you could have an E46 M3…


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