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Super Focus RS is the hottest hatch 

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FOCUS has been a top car for Ford ever since its launch back in 1998.

The model has had a bit to live up to as it made an instant impact.

I had the honour, as then president of the Association of Scottish Motoring Writers, of handing over the Scottish Car of the Year to Ford just months after the car’s launch – the first of many awards to follow for Focus.

Now there’s a huge range to choose from and I sampled a couple of them in back-to-back drives earlier this month.

First up was the high performance RS hatchback – the fastest ever RS, with a specially-engineered 350PS 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine.

It’s a boy racer’s dream car – blasting off the blocks to reach 62mph in just 4.7 seconds and capable of a top speed of 165mph.

Push the start button, put your foot down on the accelerator pedal and you get electrifying acceleration from the word go.

It’s exciting going up and down the slick six-speed manual gearbox with the turbo engine providing plenty of power.

And when it comes to cornering at speed, this model will leave other hot hatches in its slipstream.

This third-generation Focus RS pioneers all-wheel drive with dynamic torque vectoring.

There’s a lot of technical information on this system but it basically offers what I discovered to be exceptional grip and agility at speed as the torque is distributed while cornering and enabling fast acceleration out of bends.

In other words – it gets the RS right up there with much more expensive sports cars for fast, fun driving.

Another first for this RS is the choice of four driving modes – normal, sport, track or drift.

These offer specific settings for the four-wheel drive system, damper controls, electronic stability control system, steering and engine responses, and exhaust valve.

Even in normal mode, the RS has a sporty sound to it but I mostly used the sport mode which brought a terrific noise from the twin exhaust pipes.

Push up the revs and the burbles and pops come roaring out.

The track and drive modes are for track use and there’s also launch control that configures the RS chassis and power train to deliver the fastest acceleration possible.

With such power you need exceptional braking and that comes from the most powerful RS brake system with Brembo front callipers.

I loved the body-hugging RS- branded Recaro front seats with leather side bolsters.

In fact there wasn’t anything not to like about this stunning Focus RS.

It looks muscular and powerful from any angle and delivered everything it promised.

Priced at £32,265 on the road, it won’t have its shortage of buyers – or admirers.

Next Focus up for me was a good bit less powerful, as you might imagine, but would appeal to motorists looking for a fair bit more space.

This was one of Ford’s ST-Line models and it was an estate.

The ST-Line is for those who want a sporty-looking vehicle but don’t want to pay extra for the extra sporting perfor-mance.

The Focus Estate is without doubt a stylish model and the test car came in a super Iceberg Blue colour – a £645 option.

Exterior features include body colour front styling, large rear spoiler and side skirts, gloss black honeycomb front grilles, LED daytime running lights, roof rails and the ST-Line stainless steel scuff plates.

It comes with 17-inch alloys with rock metallic finish but the test car was fitted with 18-inch alloy wheels at an extra £600.

The smart, high-quality interior included sports style pedals, gear knob and steering wheel.

It was a big drop down in power, with a 1.5T EcoBoost 150PS petrol engine under the bonnet.

But it didn’t lack pace for day–to-day driving and was punchy enough going through a smooth six-speed manual box.

Driver comfort was good with four-way adjustable sports style front seats that weren’t quite as snug as the RS ones but were pretty supportive.

Both models are a bit short on rear leg room but the luggage capacity – the main reason for buying an estate – was impressive at 476 litres, rising to 1,502 litres with rear seats folded.

The estate comes with sports suspension but it is nowhere near as firm as the RS so ride comfort is not as hard.

This Focus was a smooth, quiet performer on the motorway and was sprightly enough with good road handling on some minor country roads.

At £22,905, without the options, the Focus ST-Line Estate is a load lugger that comes with stacks of style.