Stop what you’re doing, fellow PHer, because we have a very important question for you. You’re in the market for a fast Ford hot hatch. Where would your hard earned money go: on a brand spanking new Ford Fiesta ST, like the one that just pipped the Toyota Yaris GRMN in our recent test, or a previous-generation Focus RS, like the one that’s on sale in the classifieds?
It doesn’t take a Blue Oval aficionado to spot the difference in proposition, but their prices mean they are, from a purchase point of view at least, quite comparable. Plus, we all like to play “which would you choose” now and then, don’t we? So consider this: a Fiesta ST-2 with an optional (and very worthwhile) Quaife LSD costs £20,845, which is just a 155 quid less than this 2009 RS’s asking price. Yes the new car is a safer bet, what with its shiny new warranty and all, but the old one has, well, a five-cylinder engine with a Mountune Racing-uprated 375hp on offer.
OK, so it’s true that the talents of the latest hot Fiesta have never been broader, as it’s more mature than its predecessor and no less entertaining when let off the leash. But even in standard, non-Mountune trim, the Mk2 Focus RS remains a very fine driver’s car indeed. It’s arguably the best sounding hot Ford of the 21st century this side of a V8 Mustang (see the PH video for evidence) and its Volvo-sourced 2.5-litre motor, which saw substantial fettling from the team at Ford Performance, has never been wanting for more grunt. Although Mountune Racing’s MR375 kit, a £4,399 (including fitting) upgrade, gave it just that…
Floor it in a vehicle with these enhancements, which include a freer flowing exhaust system, cast inlet plenum and new engine mapping, and the car can allegedly sprint from zero to 62mph in 5.0sec, a seven tenth improvement over the standard 305hp car. And even though the Mk2 (and the Mk1 before it) isn’t gifted with the all-wheel drive hardware of the Mk3 RS, Ford’s innovative Revoknuckle front suspension, which splits the loads of the steering and suspension on the front strut, does a fine job of making best use of the car’s limited-slip differential. Which means the second-gen RS’s satisfying engine can be exercised with more vigour.
We said of a Mk2 RS during a back-to-back drive with its successor that its engine has a “more endearing character than the four-cylinder, the noise more authentic and cultured than the augmented racket in the new RS”. As if that wasn’t praise enough, we added, “it's rewarding at all commitment levels and speeds, a properly exciting centre piece to base a car around”. Needless to say, the Mountune Racing pack only serves to heighten that verdict.
For this reason, the 62,000-mile-old car advertised in the classifieds feels both like an exciting and smart buy. With those Mountune bits, it has an output to shame the latest RS, but it’s exterior is completely unmolested, so it has an image that’s as purposeful now as it was a decade ago. Unlike other extreme hot hatches of the time (Megane R26.R, we’re looking at you), there are five seats and a proper boot, so the RS is also a genuinely useable car. Of course it’ll require many, many more visits to the fuel pump than a new Fiesta ST, plus the insurance is likely to be considerably higher. Then there’s the much higher tax rate thanks to the 225g/km of CO2 emitted, and don’t get us started on the servicing costs. But there’s genuine investment potential here, so you could be enjoying a very high performance Ford that’s going to remain valuable. For us, the decision’s a no-brainer. You might think different, of course...
SPECIFICATION - FORD FOCUS RS MR375
Engine: 2,522cc, 5-cyl turbocharged
Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel-drive
Power (hp): 375@6,700rpm
Torque (lb ft): 406@3,500rpm
CO2: 225g/km (standard car)
MPG: 30 (standard car)
First registered: 2009
Recorded mileage: 61,800
Price new: £24,995 (standard Focus RS)
Yours for: £20,990
See the original advert here.