The most popular model in the fleet market has taken the step to the next level with the addition of an RS version that belies its everyday origins.

Ford has a long history with its RS division (which stands for Rallye Sport) and this is the 22nd model to bear the badge. However, it’s the first to do so for seven years, so it’s important it makes a grand entrance.

The RS is a visually striking car that will appeal to as many drivers as it offends. Barely any panel has made it over from the standard three-door Focus unaltered, partly for cosmetic reasons and partly down to the extra power the RS boasts.

This power works out at a mammoth 305PS, which delivers a mammoth top speed of 163mph and acceleration to 62mph in a mere 5.9secs – all statistics that don’t just stay on the page due to the physical alterations over the standard Focus.

In order to boost the amount of grip needed to cope with all this power Ford has widened the wheelbase by 40mm. It’s also added upgraded brakes and a newly developed sports suspension. The results are phenomenal. The Focus RS is unbelievably quick, with instantly responsive steering and brakes that could comfortably stop a car several times its size.

But despite this truly staggering performance (and accompanying noise, from a combination of engine, exhaust and turbocharger), the Focus doesn’t forget its roots. It is still as driver-friendly as the fleet-registration list-topper. Some practicality has been lost with the inclusion of sports seats, but it is in every other sense just as easy to use every day.

Ford anticipates a significant chunk of RSs to be bought with business cash, but has told buyers there will be no possibilities of any discounts from the £24,995 price tag.

Emissions of 225g/km and economy of 30.1mpg will mean running costs are likely to be high as well, but they are kept in check by a fantastically impressive 47% retained value after three years. Regardless of the cost you’ll get a lot more grins for your money than from a lot of more expensive cars.

After seven years since the previous Rallye Sport model, the Ford Focus RS has definitely succeeded in making its big entrance.

Ford Focus RS 2.5-litre 3dr manual
P11D price £24,995
Model price range £13,345-£24,995
Fuel consumption 30.1mpg
CO2 (tax) 225g/km/33%
BIK 20/40% per month £137/£275
Service interval 12,500mls
Insurance group 19A
Warranty 3yrs/60,000mls
Boot space (min/max) 385/1247 litres
Engine size/power 2522cc/305PS
Top speed/0-62mph 163mph/5.9secs
On sale March 2009
Score 8/10
Verdict Only a thirsty fuel
habit and high
emissions prevent this
from being a 10/10 car