Fast Fords at bargain prices – hot hatches that don’t cost a fortune

Ford is pulling the plug on its Focus RS after just two years

IF YOU crane your neck a little and listen carefully you might just be able to hear the sobbing from pubs and supermarket car parks across the land. The Focus RS is about to read its last rites.

Anyone who read last week’s Champion might recall me lamenting the lack of new hot hatches but Ford’s now managed to go one better by culling the fastest of its current five-doors. It’ll be making 50 Heritage Edition-badged cars, and in true Max Power tradition they’ll all be finished in a retina-scorching shade of orange. Yours for £39,895, seeing as you’re asking.

It’s also a fair bet that Fast Ford fetishists are going to spend the next 30 years fighting over the good ones, just as they did with the Escort Mexico, the RS Turbo and the RS Cosworth. In fact, I’ve spent so long writing about old cars with Blue Ovals on their bonnets picking up hair-rising prices at auction that I was beginning to wonder if there are any cheap ones left.

So I went window shopping – with a strict budget of just a tenth of what a Focus RS Heritage Edition costs. I’m delighted to report that you can still pick up blue oval-badged performance cars at blue collar prices.

The chief contender for this sort of money is the Focus ST – in fact, for a few quid over the budget I found one that’d been chipped and is knocking out 260bhp, which is a lot of motoring mischief for under four grand. If it were my money I’d go for its smaller Fiesta ST sibling, which might only serve up 150bhp but the cars out there seem to have lower mileages and be in better condition. Both seem to have fallen into that awkward gap in petrolhead-dom where they’re a bit too old hat to register with today’s go-faster motorists, but they’re too youthful and common in number to end up on the radar of classic car fans. Which is exactly the time to snap the good ones up.

It’s also worth giving the Mondeo ST-220 an honourable mention too, because it really is an astonishingly accomplished ground coverer for the money. It was cruelly snubbed by far too many buyers for the BMW 3-Series when it was new, but nowadays you can get 224bhp, room for five adults, bags of boot space and some finely-honed cornering sparkle in the same package for well under our £4k budget. Job done.

Unless of course, you want a proper Fast Ford of the RS-badged variety, that is. In which case I’ll point you in the direction of the Escort RS2000 of the Nineties – they’re few far and between, but keep looking and you can still get them at sensible prices.

You know you want to. Just don’t paint it orange…

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