Renault Sport Megane R26.R
Plastic windows, carbonfibre bonnet , no rear seats... the 227bhp Mégane is less everyday-useable than the Focus, but on the right road it’s an even bigger thrill. From £20k to £25k.
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Vauxhall Astra VXR
£20k-25k buys a 275bhp GTC VXR, which offers plenty of pace but lacks the handling precision of the Focus or Mégane. Also consider the rare Mk1 VXR 888 with a rampant 295bhp.
What to pay
Around 11,500 Mk2 RSs were built in a little over three years, and of those some 4000 went to UK buyers, so it’s by no means rare. Prices, though, have remained strong. Last time we compiled a guide (November 2012) most were in the region of £20k-23k, the very best around £27k. Those values have held firm in the intervening five years. You do find some higher-mileage cars below £20k, but the bulk are in the £20k-25k bracket. Exceptional one-owner cars can command up to £28k. RS500s rarely come up for sale and tend to be £50k+ when they do.
What we said
Road test, April 2009 - evo 129
‘The first chance to stretch the legs of the RS leaves no doubt that it is seriously fast . When the wave of forced-induction torque ramps up, it reminds you of everything that’s great about turbocharged engines – that wonderful feeling that your right foot has unleashed a slightly uncontrollable storm. The offbeat five-cylinder note has often been compared to an Audi Quattro’s, and now with the addition of a vocal dump-valve the evocation of a Group B car is complete.
‘It only takes a couple of corners for the RS’s chassis to distance itself from that of the ST. Where the ST always felt like it had quite a high centre of gravity, with a bit of roll and a slight excess of weight over the nose, the RS corners flatter, grips harder and changes direction much more incisively. Unlike the Mk1 RS, cambers and bumps don’t unsettle the front end and get it torque-steering – there is nothing more than the occasional momentary tug of the well-weighted steering all day.' ‘The harder I went in the RS, the bigger my grin grew and the more deeply impressed I became.’
I bought one
‘I’d owned a Fiesta RS Turbo since 1997, but I was in the middle of restoring it and I really wanted an RS to use. So I bought my Focus RS new in June 2009. I went for Ultimate Green with the Lux1 package but also the upgraded half-leather Recaro seats, Bluetooth and USB connectivity. Basically everything apart from satnav and the reversing camera.
‘The car now has over 42,000 miles on the clock and is more of a sunny day/show car these days. Over the last eight years there have been one or two modifications: a full stainless steel Mongoose exhaust , a JW Racing/Autotech 120 remap, an Airtec Stage 2 intercooler, 650cc multi-port injectors, a K&N air filter, an Auto Specialists cast plenum, H&R springs with Koni dampers, and Rota GTR wheels wrapped around a big set of AP Racing brakes to tame the 420bhp and 400lb ft that it’s been running since 2012.
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‘Contrary to the preconceptions about front-wheel drive, the Focus handles that power and torque well, although decent tyres are required. I’m currently running Michelin Super Sports, which so far have lasted around 6000 miles – better than the original Continentals, which died after 5000 miles.
‘Other running costs aren’t as bad as you might think, though you don’t count mpg when you buy a Focus RS. The engine hardly uses a drop of oil, servicing is once a year, and the original clutch is still managing to take the 400lb ft . The only issue for me has been rust . I’ve had to get the rear arches and the mesh in the front bumper refurbished.
‘With its colour and the superb sound of that five-pot engine, my car still gets a lot of good attention, even beside cars with posher badges! It ticks all the boxes for me and I hope to keep it for many years to come.’