The Ford Focus RS has been picking up all manner of enthusiastic reviews since it started doing the rounds in the motoring press, but it’s the old-shape Renaultsport Megane R26.R that’s proving to be the quicker car.
Despite being considerably down on power (230bhp against 300bhp), the 238kg lighter R26.R is consistently posting faster lap times in magazine tests. Drivers Republic took the two cars to Silverstone, where the R26.R posted a time of 1:19.4 on the 3.2 mile GP circuit, almost three seconds quicker than the Focus could manage.
Evo magazine tried the two cars on the West circuit at Bedford Autodrome and timed the Renault at 1:29, almost two seconds quicker than the Focus.
Performance Car did a bigger test at Bruntingthorpe, pitching the R26.R and RS against an Impreza STI Type UK and a Seat Leon Cupra, tuned to over 360bhp. Yet again the R26.R won the test, even beating the overpowered Leon.
Finally, Autocar have tested the R26.R at Millbrook Proving Ground and recorded a time of 1:15.6, beating the Focus by just under a second.
So there you have it, if you want the fastest hot hatch don’t go for the lardy Focus RS, go for the stripped-out lightweight Megane R26.R (if you can get your hands on one).
Ford must be cursing Renault’s engineers. When the Mk1 Focus RS was released to mixed reviews, thanks to its sensitive differential, the Renaultsport team showed them how it should be done with the original Megane R26. Now a brand new Focus RS is released only to get trounced by a reworked version of the same car.