RS power: 25 years of fast Audis

25 years of Audi RS

Audi’s RS-badged beasts have been roaming the autobahns and chasing down M cars since 1994. That’s 25 years of blistered arches, scowling snouts and bulbous bottoms, with a high-power wail of a soundtrack. We break down the history of the modern fast Audi.

1994 Audi RS 2

25 years of Audi RS

With the help of Porsche, Audi brought its first RS-badged performance estate to the market, and the fast car world was changed forever. While 315hp from its 2.2-litre five-cylinder engine is modest by today’s standards, in 1994 the RS 2 was an angry ripsnorter of a thing.

2000 Audi RS 4

25 years of Audi RS

The original RS 4 picked up where the RS 2 left off, and established how Audi’s RS cars would be tiered. Its 2.7-litre turbocharged V6 delivered a mighty 380hp – enough for the RS 4 to stand toe-to-toe with BMW’s M5, let alone the M3. Unlike the RS 2, the RS 4 was also available as a saloon.

2002 Audi RS 6

25 years of Audi RS

The RS 6 has been a giantkiller since it was introduced. Packing 450hp in standard form from its twin-turbo V8, and 480hp in RS 6+ form, this thing could munch M5s on the way to nibbling at the heels of supercars. It was also available as a saloon.

2005 Audi RS 4

25 years of Audi RS

But what fast Audis had yet to do, since the introduction of the RS 2, was deliver when it came to handling. Grip? They had bags of it. Balance? Not so much. Nose-heavy Audi RS cars loved to push. The RS 4 changed all that, delivering a balletic handling balance to go with that super-sweet singing 420hp 4.2-litre V8. In terms of styling, the RS 4 enhanced the steroidal RS look, and it was also the first appearance of the grille. The RS 4 was available as a saloon, Avant and a cabriolet.

2008 Audi RS 6

25 years of Audi RS

The next RS 6 reverted to old habits. Big power – 580hp courtesy of a twin-turbo 5.2-litre V10, and brutally unsatisfying dynamics. It’ll obliterate most contemporary rivals point to point, but it’ll do so without delivering any feeling of satisfaction for the driver. It’ll easily push into understeer if you get too eager, too. Audi’s reputation for inconsistency was born with the second-generation RS 6, but lordy did it jelly your knees to look at. Yours in saloon or Avant format.

2009 Audi TT RS

25 years of Audi RS

A car we’d seemingly been waiting forever for – an RS version of the TT. The TT RS came along with looks to kill and an engine that thrilled. 2.5-litres of turbocharged five-cylinder power was a delight, but the warble was a distraction from a slightly underwhelming drive. Our advice? Get the roadster, to be closer to the sound.

2010 Audi RS 5

25 years of Audi RS

The RS 5 was no M3 fighter when it came to dynamics, but you’d arguably take it on looks alone. The Cabriolet was the ultimate riviera cruiser.

2011 Audi RS 3

25 years of Audi RS

Audi’s first hyper hatch picked up where the TT left off – five-pot power and a slightly disappointing drive. The engine is one of the modern greats though, and it survives to this day in current and future hot Audis. Praise be.

2012 Audi RS 4

25 years of Audi RS

In 2012, the mighty RS 4 made a return in wagon form only. It wasn’t quite as much of a standard-setter as its predecessor, but it was properly stylish. One thing Audi’s RS division has always nailed is style, never more so than with the B8 RS 4.

2013 Audi RS Q3

25 years of Audi RS

Then Audi changed the game, with an RS-powered crossover. Q3, the unassuming family mini SUV that it was, got swollen vents, a big oval exhaust and fabulous five-pot power. It even drove better than the RS 3 hatch.

2013 Audi RS 6

25 years of Audi RS

With the 2013 RS 6, Audi got its mojo back. By far the best RS since 2005’s RS 4, this RS 6 downsized back to a twin-turbo V8, displacing four litres. It was also down on power, with 560hp, but was such a sweet drive. It was arguable the best-looking RS yet made, too. You’ll note, too, that this was the second RS car from Audi in 2013. With these two, Audi had begun its mission to deliver more RS to a power-hungry market.

2013 Audi RS 7

25 years of Audi RS

Audi’s late-in-the-game answer to the AMG-powered Mercedes CLS was, like its RS 6 counterpart, an absolute rocket, but it lacked the versatility of its esteemed sibling. It replaced the option of an RS 6 saloon.

2015 Audi RS 3

25 years of Audi RS

In 2015, the RS 3 came of age. With the 2.5-litre turbo five cylinder and 360hp, the new RS 3 had the charming powerplant, but it now had a chassis with half a hope of complimenting it. It also looked absolutely spectacular, though it hadn’t reached the height of its aesthetic powers yet.

2016 Audi TT RS

25 years of Audi RS

With near-on 400hp, the TT RS, in coupe and roadster form, is a proper little supercar slayer. First-generation R8? Not a problem. Audi RS, as always, can keep supercars honest.

2017 Audi RS 3 Saloon

25 years of Audi RS

And now, one of the best-looking modern RS Audis. In fact, as of its release, the RS 3 saloon became the only RS 3 to have, in our opinion.

2017 Audi RS 5

25 years of Audi RS

While the last RS 5 was a bit of a posey beauty, this new one seems a bit more capable. The turbocharged V6 engine isn’t the heartthrob the old V8 was, but it’s devastatingly effective. It’s still a beauty, too.

2017 Audi RS 4

25 years of Audi RS

As the new RS 4, which has the same powerplant, and has, in fact, just received a very slick facelift. It represents the definition of the ultimate daily, with its new versatile V6, by comparison to the fragile revvy old V8.

2018 Audi RS 5 Sportback

25 years of Audi RS

If the RS 4 is a bit too utilitarian for you, but the RS 5 coupe isn’t practical enough, Audi has the solution. Meet, for the first time, the RS 5 Sportback. Four doors, RS 5 styling, and a practical hatch. It’s almost a no-brainer.

2019 Audi RS 6

25 years of Audi RS

Now then, the new generation of Audi RS is here. Mild-hybrid tech, four-wheel steering, and a new generation of ultra-sharp looks. Would it be an Audi RS if it wasn’t the best looking performance car in its segment?

2019 Audi RS 7

25 years of Audi RS

Yet again, there is a less practical and more expensive flavour, in the form of the RS 7. Note that the 6 has borrowed the 7’s sharper snout.

2019 Audi RS Q3

25 years of Audi RS

Finally, the latest version of the car that brought into question what should and shouldn’t get the Audi ‘RS’ treatment. The new one is available in both normal and ‘Sportback’ form. Praise be, though, the five-cylinder has survived. We look forward to the next RS 3…

2020 RS Q8

25 years of Audi RS

Speaking of which, the RS SUV train isn’t stopping any time soon. If commonly-spotted prototypes are any indication, an RS version of the Q8 is next on the docket for 2020.

Fast Fords up for grabs

Fast Ford dream team up for grabs at Classic Car Auctions sale

Fast Fords up for grabs

A low mileage Mk2 Focus RS and a Tickford Capri are just a couple of the fun fast cars from the Blue Oval’s past hitting the auction blocks in the September 15th Classic Car Auctions sale.

When the line-up also includes an Escort RS Cosworth, a Brooklands Capri and a bargain Escort XR3i Cabriolet that’s perfect for the 2018 late summer sun, there’s every chance a few new fast Ford record prices could be achieved. 

Cheque books (or internet banking dongles) at the ready, fast Ford Fans…

1985 Tickford Ford Capri 2.8

Fast Fords up for grabs

Estimate: £26,000-£30,000

The Tickford Capri was a German Ford factory-built model that was sent to Tickford in the UK for an extensive tart-up. The transformation included a turbo, brake upgrades, a substantial suspension upgrade, a limited-slip diff and a proper bad boy body kit to let you know it’s something special. Think AMG to Mercedes in the ‘80s.

Number 50 of the 88 built is finished in Stratos Silver (recently comprehensively resprayed) with 63,000 miles reading on the odometer. In spite of its rarity, it’s estimated to fetch no more than £30,000 come the sale. Which, by modern Fast Ford standards, almost seems a bargain for something this special.

1987 Ford Capri 280 ‘Brooklands’

1987 Ford Capri 280 Brooklands

Estimate: £26,000-£30,000

Ah, decisions, decisions. Do you go for the cult appeal of the Tickford Capri, or the sheer collectability and recognition factor of the 280 ‘Brooklands’? Tough call, particularly when the run-out special is this divine. With just 15,000 miles on the odo, Classic Car Auctions say it’s one of the best 280s they’ve ever seen. 

We visit Ford’s secret classic car collection

2011 Ford Focus RS

Fast Fords up for grabs

Estimate: £30,000-£35,000

The Focus comes with a mere 1,200 miles on the odo’ which certainly stacks in favour of a heady valuation. It is, however, not fully original, with H&R lowering springs, a Mountune engine upgrade taking it to 420hp and a Milltek exhaust making this a far-from-pure example. Big power, big impact, but big money…

1995 Ford Escort RS Cosworth

1995 Ford Escort RS Cosworth

Estimate: £38,000-£42,000

And if you thought the Focus was big money… but this is a fully original Ash Black UK-delivered car that has a mere 22,500 miles on the odo. It’s in peachy overall condition, scoring strongly in Classic Car Auctions’ condition report. The only obvious flaw we can see is that bash on the front splitter. A bargaining point on the auction floor? Dream on…

Oh, and for added rarity points, do note, it’s an ultra-rare non-whale tail model! 

1983 Ford Fiesta XR2 Mk1

Fast Fords up for grabs

Estimate: £13,000-£16,000

What about if you don’t quite have enough money to buy that Focus? Try downsizing. The 83hp 52,000-mile 1983 Fiesta XR2 is expected to pull up to £16,000 when it hits the block. Biggish money? It’s the sort of prices 1980s fast Ford buyers could only dream of, but not so out of the ordinary today, particularly for an example this immaculate. 

1985 Ford Escort RS1600i

Fast Fords up for grabs

Estimate: £20,000-£25,000

The Escort RS1600i is a proper homologation special, a German-developed alternative to the British-honed XR3i. The example up for sale has enjoyed a recent refresh following a long stint in storage, complete with quintessential ‘80s flourishes. Upper estimates of around £25,000 still leave you at least £5,000 change versus if you plumped for the 2011 Focus.

1989 Ford Escort XR3i Cabriolet

1989 Ford Escort XR3i Cabriolet

Estimate: £5,000-£7,000

OK, bargain-hunters… you only have four figures in your fast Ford fund, and the sun is shining, and maybe it’s gone to your head… will it result in your bidding for this sweet-looking XR3i Cab? It’s not perfect, but the price reflects that, says CCA, and with just 58,000 miles on the clock, there should be plenty of life left in it yet. Four-seat fast Ford fun that, judging by some of the other prices here, can only go up in value?

Read more: 

Hot hatches

The 20 greatest hot hatches of the 1980s

Hot hatchesBorn in the 1970s, the hot hatch exploded in popularity during the 1980s, offering power to the people like never before. Today, these icons of their era are fast-appreciating classic cars. We’ve rounded-up the 20 greatest hot hatches of the 80s – do you agree with our choices?

Hot hatchesPeugeot 205 GTI

Where else to start but with the Peugeot 205 GTI? Chic styling, superb steering and finely-balanced handling made for a near-irresistible package. Buyers could choose from 105hp (later 115hp) 1.6-litre or 126hp 1.9-litre engines, plus a convertible CTI. Recently voted the greatest hot hatch of all time, the best examples now fetch in excess of £20,000.

Hot hatchesVolkswagen Golf GTI 

If a 205 seems a bit fragile (or expensive), how about a Mk2 Golf GTI? With its red go-faster stripes and aspirational Volkswagen badge, the Golf encapsulates the 80s like few other cars. The 112hp 8v GTI was launched in 1985, with the high-revving 139hp 16v following in 1986. Practical and solidly-built, the Golf makes for a great daily-driver classic.

Hot hatchesVolkswagen Golf Rallye

Looking like a GTI after several months at the gym, the wide-arched Golf Rallye was a homologation special. It boasted four-wheel drive and a 160hp 1.8-litre supercharged engine. Only 5,000 were made, although the Rallye’s G60 engine also saw service in the Corrado, Passat and super-rare 16v Golf Limited.

Hot hatchesFord Escort RS Turbo

Like some of its owners, the original Escort RS Turbo was a bit rough around the edges. It certainly isn’t the greatest hot hatchback to drive, but it was quick (132hp was a big deal in 1985) and looked great. All 5,000 cars were painted white – apart from a single black example built for Princess Diana.

Hot hatchesVauxhall Astra GTE

Vauxhall’s riposte to the RS Turbo was the Mk2 Astra GTE 16v. With 158hp, it was one of the most powerful hot hatches of the 1980s. The benchmark 60mph arrived in just 7.0 seconds, with a touch of torque steer along the way. The Astra’s aerodynamic styling has aged remarkably well – its digital dashboard, less so.

Hot hatchesRenault 5 GT Turbo

After the bonkers mid-engined 5 Turbo and Turbo 2, the 1985 GT Turbo was Renault’s mainstream hot hatch. It packed a revvy 115hp 1.4-litre engine and blasted to 60mph in 7.5 seconds. A darling of the Max Power tuning scene, there are few standard GT Turbos left – and prices are rising rapidly.

Hot hatchesRenault 11 Turbo

The same 115hp 1.4-litre turbocharged engine was used in the Renault 11 Turbo. Although not as quick as the lightweight 5, the 11 is much rarer – we couldn’t find a single one for sale in the UK at the time of writing. It was also a successful rally car, winning several national rally championships in the late 1980s.

Hot hatchesMazda 323 4×4 Turbo

Bristling with retro rally cool, the Mazda 323 4×4 Turbo had a 151hp 1.6-litre turbocharged engine and four-wheel drive. No wonder Motoring Research’s Gavin Braithwaite-Smith calls it the ‘Japanese Integrale’. Only 500 were sold in the UK and a mere 13 remain on the road.

10_Hot HatchLancia Delta Integrale

So that was the Japanese Integrale – now here’s the real thing. The hot Delta is most famous for its success at rallying, but was also a formidable road car. The original Integrale 8v produced 188hp from its 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, although later Evoluzione models made up to 215hp. The very best Integrales now fetch in excess of £50,000.

11_Hot hatchFord Fiesta XR2

Back down to Earth with the Ford Fiesta XR2. The original 85hp Mk1 XR2 hit 60mph in 9.3 seconds – not exactly scorching, even for 1981. The 97hp Mk2 version arrived two years later, becoming one of the most popular hot hatches of the 1980s. A mint Mk2 XR2 will set you back around £8,000 today.

12_Hot hatchPeugeot 309 GTI

While the 205 GTI grabs the headlines, the frumpier 309 GTI provides similar thrills for much less cash. The 309 borrowed the more powerful 126hp 1.9-litre engine from its little brother, and was reckoned by road testers at the time to offer even better handling. A 16-valve GTI-16 version was also built, but never sold in the UK.

Hot hatchesMG Maestro Turbo

While we’re on the subject of unsung heroes, how about the MG Maestro Turbo? Trumpeted in advertising as being faster than a Golf GTI, the bodykitted Brit could hit 60mph in just 6.7 seconds. Top speed was 128mph. Only 505 were made and less than 20 are still on the road.

14_Hot HatchMG Metro Turbo

Another British car, another memorable ad campaign. The Metro was sold as ‘The British car to beat the world’, and the MG Turbo version was its flagship. With 94hp, it could reach 60mph in 8.9 seconds and boasted handling that was allegedly tuned by Lotus.

15_Hot HatchAudi Quattro

The Audi Quattro probably isn’t the first car that springs to mind when we say ‘hot hatch’. But this road-going rally car has a hatchback – and boy, is it hot. Launched in 1980, the ‘Ur-Quattro’ had a 200hp five-cylinder engine and four-wheel drive. The 1989 20v version upped output to 220hp, cutting the 0-60mph dash to just 6.2 seconds.

Hot hatchesFiat Strada Abarth 130tc

Carburettors were becoming pretty old-school by 1983, but there was no arguing with the noise of the twin Solexes or Webers fitted to the Abarth 130tc. With 130hp, the hottest Strada (called Ritmo in Europe) could hit 62mph in a brisk 7.8 seconds. Even a perfect 130tc should set you back less than £5,000 – if you can find one.

Hot hatchesToyota Corolla GT AE86

If you fancy a cheap Corolla GT AE86, you’ve missed the boat. Starring roles in Gran Turismo and the cult Initial D drifting film mean the best examples of this outwardly humble hatchback can nudge £20,000. Key to the Toyota’s appeal is its playful rear-wheel-drive chassis, which begs to go sideways at every opportunity.

Hot hatchesCitroen Visa GTI

Bet you’d forgotten this one. Launched in 1985, the Visa GTI used the same 105hp or 115hp 1.6-litre engine as the Peugeot 205 GTI. With five doors, it’s more practical than a 205 – and much rarer, too. The ‘How Many Left’ website lists just four Visa GTIs as taxed for UK roads.

Hot hatchesCitroen AX GT

Citroen also made an AX GTI, but a 1992 launch-date disqualifies it from this round-up. However, the less powerful AX GT was still a credible hot hatch; a modest 86hp from its 1.4-litre engine worked wonders in a car weighing less than 850kg. Fragile, but fun.

Hot hatchesDaihatsu Charade GTti

No, that isn’t a mis-print, the sportiest Charade did have an extra ‘t’ to its name. In 1987, the GTti was the world’s most powerful 1.0-litre production car, with a turbocharged three-cylinder engine producing 100hp. It sprinted to 60mph in 8.0 seconds, topping out at 114mph.

Hot hatchesFord Sierra RS Cosworth

Bigger – and badder – than your typical hot hatchback, the mighty Sierra RS Cosworth is a fitting way to finish our top 20. It packed a 204hp 2.0-litre turbocharged engine for 0-60mph in 6.5 seconds and a heady 149mph top speed. It beat all-comers on the racetrack and its huge rear wing launched a thousand copycat bodykits. We want one.

Fast Fords: UK versus USA showdown

Fast Fords: UK versus USA showdownEveryone loves a fast Ford, but who makes the greatest performance cars to wear the Blue Oval badge? Over fourteen rounds, we’ve paired up rivals from both sides of the pond. Here, they go head-to-head here in a performance face-off spanning more than five decades.

Ford Performance line-upFast Fords: UK versus USA showdown

Today, Ford Performance is a global brand responsible for producing fast cars. Created from the previous teams developing cars for specific territories, Ford now wants all key markets to have access to the same performance vehicles. So, from the Fiesta ST to the latest Ford GT, there is no reason why the country you live in should deny you access to the good stuff. However, that hasn’t always been the case.

Round 1: 1960’s Road Racers – 1963 Lotus Cortina.

Fast Fords: UK versus USA showdown

Let’s start with arguably the first real fast Ford produced in Britain, in the shape of the Lotus Cortina. A twin-cam 1.6-litre engine with just 105hp might not sound much today, but light aluminium panels kept weight down to just 850kg. This translated into motorsport success, with the Lotus Cortina taking wins in numerous touring car classes. Jim Clark picked up the 1964 British Saloon Car Championship behind the wheel of a Lotus Cortina, while still competing in Formula 1.

Round 1: 1960’s Road Racers – 1964 Fairlane ThunderboltFast Fords: UK versus USA showdown

Much like the Lotus Cortina, the American Fairlane Thunderbolt was built with racing in mind. Just 100 examples were created to homologate the car for drag racing, with the same 426 cubic inch (7.0-litre) V8 engine used in NASCAR racers. Officially rated at 425hp, but estimated to be far more powerful, this engine – combined with fibreglass body panels and a stripped-out interior – made the Thunderbolt a devastating road car.

Round 2: Blue-Collar Coupes – 1965 Mk1 MustangFast Fords: UK versus USA showdown

Developed to appeal to both men and women, the original Mustang took 22,000 orders on the first day it was unveiled at the 1964 World’s Fair. It also created the ’pony car’ segment, which spawned new rivals from Dodge and Chevrolet. A 271hp 289 cubic inch (4.7-litre) V8 made for the fastest early Mustang, until more power was added in later years. Several generations later, the original Mustang still holds just as much appeal as it did then.

Round 2: Blue-Collar Coupes – 1969 Mk1 CapriFast Fords: UK versus USA showdown

Famously advertised as ‘the car you’ve always promised yourself’ the Capri brought the idea of ‘grand touring’ to the working man. Unashamedly intended as the European version of the Mustang, and even styled by the same person, this was the pony car in miniature. With rear-wheel drive and a range of engines from tepid 1.3-litre inline-four to potent 3.0-litre V6, there was a Capri for everyone. Later Capris were largely ignored by European markets, but it remained a part of British culture until 1986.

Round 3: Competitive Spirit – 1970 Mk1 Escort RS1600Fast Fords: UK versus USA showdown

Starting a performance lineage that’s still going strong today, the first British Ford to wear the RS badge was the RS1600 Escort. Built to go rallying, the initial RS1600 models were little more than homologation specials, with a 1.6-litre Cosworth-BDA engine that revved to 6,500rpm. The later Mexico version, made in honour of Ford winning the 1970 London to Mexico Rally, was still desirable but better suited to street use. Today, any Mk1 Escort is likely to be worth big money, and the RS1600 and Mexico models have a legendary reputation.

Round 3: Competitive Spirit – 1970 Boss 302 MustangFast Fords: UK versus USA showdown

Across the Atlantic, Detroit was creating a version of the Mustang to go racing in the SCCA Trans-Am series. First introduced in 1969, the Boss 302 used – as you may have guessed – a 302 cubic inch (5.0-litre) V8 engine with 290hp, connected to a four-speed manual gearbox. In 1970, it took victory in the Trans-Am series, with the Boss 302 claiming six wins from 11 rounds, during an extremely competitive season.

Round 4: Wide and Wild – 1981 Zakspeed Capri TurboFast Fords: UK versus USA showdown

This may look, vaguely, like a Mk3 Ford Capri, but the Zakspeed version was built to meet FIA Group 5 regulations. Only the doors, bonnet and roof had to be kept standard, resulting in the ultra-wide stance. Klaus Ludwig would drive the Zakspeed-entered car in the 1981 Deutsche Rennsport Meistershaft, taking titles for both himself and the team. Power came from a turbocharged 1.4-litre engine, producing around 500hp.

Round 4: Wide and Wild – 1981 Zakspeed Roush Mustang Turbo

Fast Fords: UK versus USA showdown

No, you’re not seeing double. This isn’t the Capri again, we promise. This is the 1981 Mustang Turbo, also built by Zakspeed and entered in the GTX Class of the IMSA Camel GT Championship. Featuring a certain Klaus Ludwig as one of the drivers, the Zakspeed team was contracted to build a Group Five race car for Ford’s Special Vehicle Operations. However, the Mustang Turbo was unable to match the success of the Capri, and was replaced with a new GTP-class car in 1983.

Round 5: Homologation Heroes – 1984 RS200Fast Fords: UK versus USA showdown

Group B was the pinnacle of rallying, with crazy horsepower and exotic materials used to create the ultimate competition cars. Four-wheel drive and a mid-mounted 1.8-litre turbo engine producing up to 450hp in rally trim helped make the RS200 competitive. Just 200 road cars were built to homologate the racer, but all this was ultimately in vain. A crash involving an RS200 on the 1986 Rally de Portugal would contribute to the outlawing of Group B cars for the following season.

Round 5: Homologation Heroes – 1969 Torino TalladegaFast Fords: UK versus USA showdown

Just as the RS200 pushed Group B regulations to the extreme, Ford had been doing the same decades earlier in NASCAR. Featuring a special aerodynamic front grille and sloping fastback roof, the Torino Talladega was made to hit high speeds on banked ovals. Although it might not have the same fearsome reputation as the RS200, it was successful in taking the 1969 manufacturers’ championship. Special ‘aero warriors’ like the Talladega were later removed from NASCAR due to changes in homologation requirements.

Round 6: Tin Top Legends – 1986 Sierra RS CosworthFast Fords: UK versus USA showdown

Ford is often single-minded when pursuing motorsport victory, and the Sierra RS Cosworth was the product of its quest for FIA Group A domination. Taking 15 major Touring Car championships cemented its on-track ability, while a reputation for being the ultimate prize for joy-riders ensured the road car was just as revered. More than 5,000 examples were built, combining rear-wheel drive with a 204hp 2.0-litre turbocharged engine. Oh, and there’s that iconic ‘whale tail’ spoiler, too.

Round 6: Tin Top Legends – 1985 Merkur XR4TiFast Fords: UK versus USA showdown

North American buyers couldn’t buy the Sierra Cosworth, but they did get the XR4Ti. Sold under the short-lived Merkur brand, this was an XR4i Sierra, but with the European 2.8-litre V6 ditched in favour of a 175hp 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Around 42,000 examples were built between 1985 and 1989, but today the XR4Ti is often forgotten. Andy Rouse drove a Merkur XR4Ti to victory in the 1985 British Touring Car Championship, paving the way for the later Sierra RS Cosworth.

Round 7: Boosted Blue Ovals – 1984 Escort RS Turbo Series IFast Fords: UK versus USA showdown

The third-generation Escort marked a huge change from the previous two. Ditching rear-wheel drive in favour of sending power to the front wheels was radical, as was the adoption of a hatchback body. Natural aspiration was out for the fastest Escort, with turbocharging the ‘must have’ of the 1980s. The RS Turbo was endowed with a 1.6-litre engine, making 135hp. Values today have skyrocketed, with prices of around £30,000 not uncommon for restored Series 1 cars.

Round 7: Boosted Blue Ovals – 1984 Mustang SVO Turbo

Fast Fords: UK versus USA showdown

Just as revolutionary as the Mk3 Escort was in Europe, the third-generation Mustang was also a shock to the system. A modern, aerodynamically-shaped body marked a new Ford design era (a switch to front-wheel drive was even considered). The ‘Fox body’ Mustangs remained rear-wheel drive, but did gain turbocharged engines, predating the current Ecoboost ’Stang by some three decades. The SVO Turbo version was the most potent, with up to 205hp from its 2.3-litre four-cylinder motor, a limited-slip differential and adjustable Koni suspension.

Round 8: Street Sleepers – 1996 Taurus SHOFast Fords: UK versus USA showdown

Standing for Super High Output, the SHO was the performance variant of the Taurus saloon. Perhaps to offset the shock caused by the styling of the third-generation Taurus, Ford upped things for the SHO by adding a V8 engine instead of the previous V6 unit. Developed by Yamaha, the 3.6-litre motor made 235hp and 230lb ft, with 32 valves and aluminium cylinder heads. The bodywork of the SHO was left largely untouched, masking the performance beneath.

Round 8: Street Sleepers – 1999 Mondeo ST200Fast Fords: UK versus USA showdown

Things were going well for Mondeo Man as the 1990s drew to a close, and the limited edition ST200 version launched in 1999 was as good as it got. The 2.5-litre V6 engine was developed by Ford’s Special Vehicle Team in America, and marked the move towards greater transatlantic cooperation. With 200hp, the result was quick – rather than devastating – performance, but the natural ability of the Mondeo meant it was fun to drive. Today it flies under the radar as a forgotten fast Ford, but it seems primed to become a modern classic.

Round 9: Millennium Coupes – 1999 Ford Racing PumaFast Fords: UK versus USA showdown

Despite proving popular with the British public, the Ford Puma often came in for criticism for being underpowered. This changed in 1999 with the introduction of the Ford Racing Puma. The existing Yamaha-developed 1.7-litre engine was enhanced to deliver 155hp at 7,000rpm, with 0-62mph taking a frantic 7.9 seconds. But the Racing Puma wasn’t just about straight-line performance. Bigger brakes, wider wheels and uprated suspension meant it stopped and handled well, too. With just 500 built, the FRP is a genuine rarity worth seeking out.

Round 9: Millennium Coupes – 1999 Mercury CougarFast Fords: UK versus USA showdown

The original Mercury Cougar was an upmarket version of the first-generation Ford Mustang. This eighth-generation Cougar, launched in 1999, shared a platform with the Mondeo, and never quite managed to deliver the excitement promised by its bold ‘New Edge’ looks. Sold in Europe under the Ford badge, a 2.5-litre V6 with 170hp was as good as it got. Slow sales meant the Cougar was canned in 2002, less than four years after being introduced.

Round 10: Peak Performance – 2000 Mustang SVT Cobra R

Fast Fords: UK versus USA showdown

Ford was on a roll with performance products in both the US and UK at the turn of the millennium, but the pressure to do more was ever-present. Enter the ultimate version of the fourth-generation Mustang. Available for just one model-year, and with only 300 examples built, the Cobra R was ultra-fast and ultra-rare. A hand-built 385hp 5.4-litre V8 was fed by a 20-gallon racing fuel cell, and exhaled through a side-exit exhaust. All cars came in Performance Red and featured a gigantic rear wing and adjustable front splitter as standard. The interior was stripped of all luxuries, including the back seats.

Round 10: Peak Performance – 2002 Mk1 Focus RSFast Fords: UK versus USA showdown

One of the most controversial cars to wear the Rallye Sport badge, the Mk1 Focus RS divided enthusiasts and journalists alike. Most loved the WRC-inspired looks and punchy 212hp 2.0-litre turbo engine. Some were unconvinced by the aftermarket-looking blue interior trim. Yet most divisive was the Quaife torque-biasing differential, used partly due to a lack of 4WD. It made the Focus RS hugely effective on road and track, but also aggressive and physical to drive. A true old-school hot hatch, but one that’s already increasing in value.

Round 11: Transatlantic Special – 2002 Focus ST170

Fast Fords: UK versus USA showdown

While the RS is most revered first-generation Focus, it wasn’t the only performance version offered. The ST170, also launched in 2002, featured a naturally aspirated 2.0-litre engine developed by Cosworth. With 17-inch multispoke alloy wheels, uprated brakes and Recaro leather seats, it ticked off a number of hot hatch requirements. An estate version was also offered, preceding the current performance wagon craze by over a decade.

Round 11: Transatlantic Special – 2002 Focus SVT

Fast Fords: UK versus USA showdown

Look familiar? Minor cosmetic changes aside, the 2002 Focus SVT was the same machine as the European-market ST170. A demonstration of Ford’s desire to build ‘world cars’ even when it came to performance variants, the SVT was the result of cooperation between Special Vehicle divisions on both sides of the Atlantic. American buyers even got the option of wild colours like Screaming Yellow and Competition Orange, although they were denied the estate version.

Round 12: Ultimate Utility – 2007 Transit Sport VanFast Fords: UK versus USA showdown

The backbone of Britain. Not just a van, but the van. Driven by everyone from bakers to breakdown services if the adverts from the 1990s were correct. The Transit is a defining commercial vehicle yet, despite its popularity, we’ve never been treated to a performance version. Yes, Ford produced a number of Supervans – laying a Transit body on the chassis of a race car – but they weren’t sold to the public. Instead, in 2007, we got the Sport Van. With a standard 129hp 2.2-litre diesel engine there was no more power, and even the twin exhaust pipes were fake. There were at least bonnet stripes and 18-inch wheels, though.

Round 12: Ultimate Utility – 2010 F-150 SVT Raptor

Fast Fords: UK versus USA showdown

Cross the Atlantic and the F-150 pick-up truck has been the best-selling vehicle in the USA since 1981. Like the Transit in the UK, the F-150 is the mainstay of American life, and the Blue Oval saw fit to create a true performance version in 2010 with the SVT Raptor. With a 6.2-litre V8 producing 411hp and 434lb ft of torque, this was a serious utility vehicle. Despite the potential to terrify people off-road at speed, the Raptor can still tow 3,600kg and carry up to 800kg. Sorry Transit, the Raptor takes this round.

Round 13: Modern Masters – 2016 Mk3 Focus RSFast Fords: UK versus USA showdown

Bringing the North American Ford Special Vehicles Team and European Team RS together in one global Ford Performance brand meant both sides of the Atlantic were involved in the creation of the latest Focus RS. It also meant UK and US buyers got the same 350hp 2.3-litre engine and, finally, a Focus RS with four-wheel drive. With the ability to hit 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds, and run to 165mph, the benefits of global thinking seem pretty clear. There’s also the small matter of that infamous ‘drift mode’…

Round 13: Modern Masters – 2017 Shelby Mustang GT350R

Fast Fords: UK versus USA showdown

The latest Mustang ticked off a lot of firsts. It’s the first Mustang to have independent rear suspension across the range, the first to be sold globally and, most importantly, the first to be made in right-hand drive. It meant UK buyers have the ability to own and drive a 5.0-litre V8 (or 2.3-litre turbo) muscle car without the need to sit on the ‘wrong’ side. But it’s not all good news. UK customers are denied the chance to buy the Shelby GT350R, with its 526hp flat-plane-crank 5.2-litre V8 engine, carbon fibre wheels, bespoke bodykit and stripped-out interior. Globalisation can’t give you everything, it seems.

Round 14: Definitive Icons – 1994 Escort RS CosworthFast Fords: UK versus USA showdown

We’ve saved the best until last, picking out the absolute top examples of what Ford can do. Designed and engineered in the UK but built in Germany, the Escort RS Cosworth borrowed a shortened chassis from the Sierra RS, along with the same 2.0-litre turbocharged engine – now making 227hp. The four-wheel-drive system was new, but most obvious was the huge double rear wing that produced substantial amounts of downforce. That this was all wrapped in a body that resembled the regular Escort hatchback, but could hit 60mph in less than six seconds. Jeremy Clarkson bought one from new, and later regretted selling it.

Round 14: Definitive Icons – 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500Fast Fords: UK versus USA showdown

The GT350 may have been the first Shelby Mustang when launched in 1965, but there’s something special about the 1967 GT500 and its big-block 428 cubic inch (7.0-litre) ‘Police Interceptor’ V8 engine. Fitted with twin four-barrel carburettors, it produced 360hp, and had the option of four-speed manual or three-speed automatic gearboxes. Debate rages amongst Mustang enthusiasts as to which is better to drive, GT350 or GT500, but the starring role of the latter in the Gone in 60 Seconds movie cements it as the defining fast American Ford for us.

Porsche 911 GT2 RS is the most powerful 911 ever

Porsche 911 GT2 RSPorsche has revealed the new 911 GT2 RS at the Goodwood Festival of Speed – a 700hp 3.8-litre twin-turbo beast that’s the most powerful Porsche road car ever made. It can do 211mph, 0-62mph in 2.8 seconds, weighs less than 1500kg and, simply, is the most ferocious iteration yet of the world’s most famous sports car.

More Porsche on Motoring Research:

Porsche already pushed the turbo motor from 580hp to 607hp in the 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series. The GT2 RS adds a ludicrous amount of extra power, so much so that it needs a custom-built seven-speed PDK gearbox that’s strong enough to cope. Porsche is promising a mesmerising sound, even for a turbo engine, thanks to a lightweight titanium exhaust that weighs a hefty 7kg less than the standard system and delivers a noise that’s “without precedent”.

It puts all this power to the ground through steamroller-like 325/30 ZR21 rear tyres (the widest ever fitted to a 911), with 265/35 ZR 20s at the front. Stopping is courtesy of standard Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes and, through the corners, rear axle steering and specially calibrated stability control give it the dynamics to match its crazy power output.

Of course, there’s lots of lightweight stuff: carbon fibre reinforced plastic is used for the front wings (and their vents), door mirrors, air intakes, bonnet and some of the rear end. Meanwhile, Porsche has actually made the roof from magnesium.

You can go further, too. Remember how you could have an optional Weissach package with the 918 Spyder hypercar? You now can with the new GT2 RS. Saving 30kg, it includes yet more carbon fibre reinforced plastic and titanium bits: we’re talking carbon fibre anti-roll bars here, magnesium wheels, a carbon fibre roof – with a body-coloured central stripe on the luggage compartment lid and roof to differentiate the Weissach cars.

Surprisingly, Porsche leaves the Chrono Package on the options list, so you’ll have to pay extra if you want to monitor your lap times. As you undoubtedly will, particularly as the system now includes a lap trigger – with the Porsche Track Precision app and some external timing markers on a course, you can ‘cross the beam’ just like they do in F1. That’s surely a must-have, no?

This is the second special Porsche to have its own watch. Porsche Design has worked with Porsche Motorsport to create the 911 GT2 RS Chronograph – using Porsche Design’s very first clock movement, which took it three years to develop. It includes a motorsport-inspired ‘flyback’ function, that automatically does all the choreography used when timing laps. Again, priorities.

The watch costs €9,450 in Germany. The car? It’s from €285,220, which equates to roughly £251,000 in the UK (and £8,300 for the watch). We’re at Goodwood this weekend to hear more from Porsche bosses about the new 911 GT2 RS. 

Mark Webber: “She’s a beast”

Porsche racer Mark Webber helped reveal the new 911 GT2 RS at the Goodwood Motor Circuit. “This is probably the 911 I’ve driven most pre-launch,” he said. “Andreas (Preuninger, Porsche GT boss) got me on board… I’ve already driven it plenty, including at the Nürburgring. Believe me, it’s a beast…”

Apparently, some of Webber’s ex-F1 buddies are already on the phone to him, seeing if he can get them ahead in the waiting list. But it sounds like it’s on Webber’s hit list, too – because of it’s all-round usability. It’s comfortable and usable on public roads,” says Porsche. “Compared to the last GT2 RS, we have civilised it, a little bit.”

Webber picked up on this. “A lot of the GT cars I have in the family… I always take navi and air con.” Not that this has at all softened it, he added. “In general, she’s a thoroughbred, an absolute beast, but you can take it on the road no problem.”

In pictures: New Porsche 911 GT2 RS

Inside the multi-million-pound Porsche showroom

Last month, Porsche built its millionth 911. Then, just a fortnight later, a 1993 911 sold at auction for £1.7million. Think about that for a moment. One-point-seven million pounds. For a 911. Has the world gone mad?

Before you spill your PG Tips or take to Twitter, I should point out that, yes, the car in question was a rare 964 3.8 RSR. And yes, it was essentially new, with six miles on the clock. Nonetheless, we’re still talking about a 911: a car for which around 700,000 of that one-million production run remain on the road.

Thankfully, you won’t need £1.7million to buy a Porsche at JZM – one of the UK’s leading marque specialists, based at Kings Langley in Hertfordshire. But if you’re looking for an investment-grade Porsche it’s a good place to start; the showroom is packed wall-to-wall with classic 911s, including plenty of RS models. I went along to see what all the fuss is about.

More Porsche on Motoring Research

Inside the JZM Porsche showroomJZM Porsche

Since we’re talking telephone numbers, it seems fitting to start with the most expensive car on sale. The 997 GT3 RS 4.0 was a limited-run special that Autocar declared: “The finest Porsche ever to wear a number plate”. And, with 4,285 miles under its centre-lock wheels, this hardcore road-racer is advertised at £535,900. Quite incredible for a car that cost ‘just’ £128,466 in 2011.

Next-up in price order is an immaculate Midnight Blue 964 Turbo 3.6: a relative snip at £199,000. The 360hp 3.6 was only produced between 1993 and 1994 (most blown 964s used the 320hp 3.3-litre motor), making it a rare beast today. With wheelarches stretched over polished split-rims and that iconic ‘tea tray’ wing (take note, Porsche geeks: it’s not a ‘whale tail’), this is the brawniest-looking 911 of all.JZM Porsche

If anything can wrench my eyes from the visual sucker-punch of a 964 Turbo, it’s a Viper Green Carrera 2.7 RS. Except this isn’t a genuine RS, but a meticulously-built ‘tribute’ based on a 1972 911T. With a 2.7-litre MFI engine, period Recaro seats and chromed Fuchs alloys, it looks fabulous – and a price tag of £129,900 is less than a quarter what you’d pay for the real deal.

The evolution of an icon

Wandering around the JZM showroom, it’s fascinating to see how the 911 has evolved. Over five decades, it has swelled in size, sprouted spoilers and become hugely more luxurious, but that iconic silhouette has stayed the same. Perhaps this is key to the car’s long-lasting appeal; it’s constantly evolving yet curiously timeless. Present-day Porsche’s profits may come from SUVs, but the 911 remains the core of its range.JZM Porsche

Even so, it’s one of the oldest 911s here – a 1970 2.2E finished in Light Ivory – that really wins my heart. A ‘California car’ that has never been welded, it still wears all its original body panels, and the delicate chrome trim looks flawless. JZM says the car has ‘been fully prepared for the British climate’, but I’d still be loath to take this £104,900 classic on wet winter roads. One for sunny Sunday mornings (and evenings spent lovingly polishing in the garage), I suspect.

If in doubt, Flat clout

I’ve added the 2.2E to my lottery-win garage and am heading for the door when… whoah! Poking its sharkish snout out of the next-door workshop, I spy a 930 Flachbau. This special-order ‘flatnose’ version of the original 930 Turbo is fast, fearsome and – to a kid who grew up in the excess-all-areas 80s – probably the coolest 911 you can buy. Sadly, it isn’t for sale, or it would have bumped the 2.2E from the top spot on my personal (and, sadly, entirely theoretical) shopping list.JZM Porsche

So, if my numbers came up, would I buy a Porsche 911? As a daily-driver, probably not. A Cayman S is all the sports car you really need, especially on congested UK roads. But if I wanted somewhere to put my money, an appreciating asset that I could drive and enjoy, then absolutely yes. The 911 is a car that, like its rear-engined layout, defies logic. Yet if you can afford one, it’s probably the most sensible sports car you can buy.

Classic Porsches on show at Autofarm for MR Retro Live

MR Retro Live at Autofarm

Autofarm in Oxfordshire is a mecca for disciples of the air-cooled and the rear-engined. The company has been fixing and restoring Porsches since 1973, and its huge wooden barns are stuffed with classic 911s. Where better, then, to hold our second MR Retro Live event – this time catering for Porsche enthusiasts.

And so it was that, one brisk Sunday morning, a group of Porsche fans gathered at Autofarm, chatting cars and supping coffee to a flat-six soundtrack. The Motoring Research team was there, too: Peter in his 964 Carrera 4 and Andrew in a Cayman GT4 nabbed from Porsche’s press fleet. Here are some of the highlights.

MR Retro Live at Autofarm

Porsche 911 Carrera 2.7 RS

Yes, before you ask, it’s a real one. The Carrera 2.7 RS is the most iconic 911 of all, with the best examples today costing seven figures. Designed for motorsport homologation, it boasted a fuel-injected 210hp engine, stiffer suspension and bigger brakes – not forgetting that trademark ‘ducktail’ rear spoiler.

This ’73 RS belongs to one of Autofarm’s customers and was in for a service. It was restored about 10 years ago and remains in flawless original condition.

MR Retro Live at Autofarm

Porsche 911S

Speaking of originality, Chris Knowles’ stunning 2.4 S looks exactly as it left the factory in 1972. The Signal Yellow bodywork has been resprayed by Autofarm, but the interior has never been retrimmed.

Interestingly, 1972 was the only model-year where 911s had an oil tank access flap on the side of the car. However, some owners filled it with petrol, so Porsche wisely chose to relocate it under the engine lid. 

MR Retro Live at Autofarm

Ruf 964 special

Remember the Ruf CTR – star of the 2017 Geneva Motor Show? The German company has been modifying Porsches for decades, including this unique 964. Based on a 3.6 RS, it packs a twin-turbo engine from the later 993 Turbo.

Ruf also fitted its ‘electronic foot’ clutchless manual gearbox. And the eagle-eyed will spot the wide-arched Turbo bodywork has been de-seamed – just like an old Mini.

MR Retro Live at Autofarm

Porsche Cayman GT4

Not a 911, but equally as cool, the Cayman GT4 is a modern Porsche destined for classic status. MR’s Andrew had this Guards Red example for the weekend and kept finding tenuous excuses to run errands in it.

With added aero, a stiffer chassis and brakes from the 911 GT3, the 385hp GT4 is a serious driving machine. It also comes with a six-speed manual gearbox – something that wasn’t available on the GT3 at the time.MR Retro Live at Autofarm

Porsche 911 Carrera RS

Regular readers will recognise this car – also Guards Red – from our Retro Road Test last year. The hardcore 964 was the first 911 to wear the RS badge since the 1970s. Thankfully, Porsche did it justice, with more power, less weight and a close-ratio gearbox.

This car was recently for sale at Autofarm and has been expertly restored in-house. MD Mikey Wastie reckons it’s one of the best 964s he’s driven. We were equally effusive, saying: “It’s a car you’ll ache to spend time with, to learn its quirks and exploit its talents. The buzz of driving it stayed with us many hours after we reluctantly handed back the keys.”
MR Retro Live at Autofarm

Porsche 911 GTS  

Paul Woods brought along his immaculate 991 GTS, complete with appropriately speedy number plate. We love the primer-grey paint, too.

This first-generation GTS is one of the last with a naturally-aspirated engine. It also came with the Powerkit engine upgrade, sports exhaust and adjustable PASM suspension. GT3 aside, could this be peak modern 911?

MR Retro Live at Autofarm

Porsche 911L

How pretty is this 1968 911L? Another customer car, it was already at Autofarm for some engine work. Note the oh-so-classic Fuchs alloys, as worn by many 911s of the era – including the Carrera RS.

The 130hp 911L was the mid-point in Porsche’s late-1960s range, sitting between the 110hp 911T and 160hp 911S. It also had front disc brakes.
MR Retro Live at Autofarm

Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2 Supersport

The Supersport was essentially a Carrera 3.2 with the wider wheelarches and ‘tea tray’ spoiler from the 930 Turbo. Suspension and brakes were also sourced from the flagship car, but engine output remained a standard 234hp.

Porsche also sold the Supersport in Cabriolet and Targa body styles. Today, such cars are rare, as many were cannibalised for race-look RSR conversions. MR Retro Live at Autofarm

Porsche 911 Carrera 2.7 RS replica

This one is a replica, but a fantastic car nonetheless. It started life as a 1988 Carrera 3.2, then was ‘backdated’ by Autofarm to resemble a ’73 RS.

The paintwork is ‘Aubergine’, an original Porsche colour. And the dashboard was recently backdated, too, giving an authentic look inside and out. Classic style and modern(ish) mechanicals? Yes please.

Yorkshire’s best-kept secret: inside Malton’s amazing classic Porsche showroom

Yorkshire’s best-kept secret: Malton’s amazing classic Porsche showroom

Yorkshire’s best-kept secret: inside Malton’s amazing classic Porsche showroomThere are no shortage of amazing supercar showrooms in London. But we don’t all live in London. And for those of us who do, the idea of picking up a lottery-win purchase before hitting traffic on the North Circular kind of ruins the dream.

But there’s a place in the north that caters for the discerning supercar buyer who’s willing to travel further afield than the capital. As its name suggests, Specialist Cars of Malton is based in North Yorkshire’s market town of Malton. A short drive from the brilliant North York Moors, buying a car from here could have all the makings of an epic road trip.

We head to Malton for a spot of window shopping.

Porsche 993 RS Clubsport homageYorkshire’s best-kept secret: inside Malton’s amazing classic Porsche showroom

Although there’s a variety of exotic metal in the showroom, Specialist Cars is primarily a Porsche specialist. Just 227 Porsche 993 RS Clubsports were ever sold, meaning finding a genuine one is tricky and, if you do, expensive. Hexagon Classics in London has one in stock for an eye-watering £399,995. This one is a replica – but you’d be hard-pushed to spot the difference. How much? If you have to ask…

Porsche 993 RSYorkshire’s best-kept secret: inside Malton’s amazing classic Porsche showroom

This might look like the same car, but we assure you it isn’t. If you look through the window, you’ll see it’s less extreme inside, lacking the racing harnesses and roll bars of the Clubsport replica. Yes, this is a common-or-garden RS.

Porsche 911 Carrera TargaYorkshire’s best-kept secret: inside Malton’s amazing classic Porsche showroom

Want to stand out, but yellow doesn’t float your boat? This magenta-coloured 911 is certainly a little different. Built in 1973, it was ordered off the back of Porsche’s 1973 London Motor Show car, which was finished in the same shade. Malton says it’s one of only two right-hand-drive magenta 911s in the UK, and one of 42 RHD 2.7 Carrera Targas.

Bentley Mulsanne SpeedYorkshire’s best-kept secret: inside Malton’s amazing classic Porsche showroom

Shall we move away from Porsches, briefly? This brand new Bentley Mulsanne Speed takes pride of place in the Malton showroom, right next to the desk of managing director John Hawkins. Not necessarily because he wants to spend all day looking at it, but probably because it’s huge. Powered by a 6.75-litre V8 engine, the 5.5-metre-long Mulsanne Speed hits 62mph in 4.9 seconds.

Citroen DS 19Yorkshire’s best-kept secret: inside Malton’s amazing classic Porsche showroom

“The best Citroen DS 19 Pallas in the UK,” Malton proudly boasts in its advert for this DS. Subject to a €60,000 restoration before it was imported from Portugal in 2011, it certainly looks eye-catching alongside pricier exotica. It’s yours for a shade under £40,000.

Volkswagen GolfYorkshire’s best-kept secret: inside Malton’s amazing classic Porsche showroom

Looking for a sensible VW Golf for popping to the shops? Malton has just the… oh, maybe not. This Golf has been modified for racing, with a 320hp engine, two bucket seats and a rollcage. Oh, not to mention no fewer than 18 spare tyres. The ultimate track-day weapon.

Porsche 911 Supersport TargaYorkshire’s best-kept secret: inside Malton’s amazing classic Porsche showroom

Ready to go back to Porsches? Well, they are what Malton does best. This Supersport is well known to Specialist Cars, having been through the showroom a number of times in its history. With a 3.2-litre engine producing 234hp, it’ll hit 62mph in 5.6 seconds. Finished in Guards Red, it certainly looks the part.

Porsche 964 Carrera RSYorkshire’s best-kept secret: inside Malton’s amazing classic Porsche showroom

The market for the 964 Carrera RS is buoyant, with examples advertised elsewhere for more than £150,000. With lots of history and a fresh MOT, this Lightweight looks to be a particularly good example.

Porsche 996 GT3 RSYorkshire’s best-kept secret: inside Malton’s amazing classic Porsche showroom

Moving outside, where Malton’s stock overflows into the car park. With a short production run between 2003 and 2005, just 113 GT3 RS 996s were sold in the UK. The track-focused model was based on the GT3, with weight reduced to make it one of the most capable track cars ever sold. While it wouldn’t be our first choice for a trek down the M1, a blast across the moors and a lap of nearby Croft in a GT3 RS does appeal.

Porsches for everyoneYorkshire’s best-kept secret: inside Malton’s amazing classic Porsche showroom

There’s a Porsche for everyone at Malton. While the modified Techart Cayenne in the centre isn’t quite to our taste, the 968 and 993 flanking it certainly appeal.

Porsche 997 Carrera 2Yorkshire’s best-kept secret: inside Malton’s amazing classic Porsche showroom

The racing stripes on this Porsche 997 Carrera 2 won’t be to everyone’s taste, but Malton says they can be easily removed. At £28,995 it’s one of the cheaper cars, here – despite having more than £16,000-worth of upgrades over the last four years.

Malton workshopYorkshire’s best-kept secret: inside Malton’s amazing classic Porsche showroom

Ordinarily, that’s as much as most customers get to see, but Malton invited us behind the scenes to see what goes into preparing its stunning Porsches and other classic cars for the showroom. First, we saw the workshop, where a 997 GT2 was being readied for sale. Matt LeBlanc’s runaround of choice, it’ll set you back a cool £124,995.

In the paintshopYorkshire’s best-kept secret: inside Malton’s amazing classic Porsche showroom

We then headed to the paintshop, where the finishing touches are made to cars to make sure they’re absolutely perfect before being put on sale. Customers’ cars are also worked on – with Malton able to carry out any work from touching-up stone chips to a full respray.

Super storage unitYorkshire’s best-kept secret: inside Malton’s amazing classic Porsche showroom

Finally, we took at a sneak peek inside the secret storage unit, where cars are stored until it’s time to offer them for sale. With highlights including a mint Series I Land Rover and a Lotus Cortina, the value of the cars stored here is probably increasing by the day.

2017 Audi TT RS

2017 Audi TT RS review: flat-out in the junior R8

2017 Audi TT RSLet’s start with a stat: the new Audi TT RS hits 62mph from standstill in 3.7 seconds. That’s quicker than a Ferrari F40, Porsche 959 or Jaguar XJ220. Indeed, the RS can show a clean pair of Michelins to most supercars built before the millennium. It’s also just 0.2 seconds slower than Audi’s flagship R8.

A bona fide baby R8?2017 Audi TT RS

The formula for such savage speed is simple: more power, less weight and, of course, Quattro four-wheel drive. But faster doesn’t always equal more fun, especially when it comes to hot Audis. Is the TT RS a bona fide baby R8, or just a seriously hot hatch? We drove it on-track, then on challenging mountain roads, to find out.

Pricier than Porsche2017 Audi TT RS

You can order a TT RS from late September, with first deliveries due in November. List price for the Coupe is £51,800, while the Roadster is £53,350. That’s pricier than an equivalent Porsche Cayman S or Boxster S, but still less than half as much as big-brother R8. However, this being an Audi, you’ll probably want to set aside at least £5k for extra-cost options.

Power to the people2017 Audi TT RS

In terms of performance-per-pound, though, the TT looks solid value. Its 2.5-litre, five-cylinder engine pumps out 400hp and 354lb ft of torque: more than even the hottest hatchbacks the 350hp Ford Focus RS, 381hp Mercedes-AMG A45 and Audi’s own 367hp RS3 included. It also outguns the aforementioned Boxster/Cayman (350hp) and the outgoing TT RS (360hp).

Rollercoaster racetrack2017 Audi TT RS

We start our test-drive at Jarama, a fabulous rollercoaster of a racetrack just outside Madrid. Used for Formula One until 1981, it offers a stomach-churning blend of blind apexes, off-camber corners and (gulp) short run-offs. It’s the perfect place to put the TT RS through its paces.

Ready for launch2017 Audi TT RS

First, though, we line up to try the Launch Control the easiest way to achieve that headline 3.7sec sprint to 62mph. And it really couldn’t be easier: floor the right pedal, left foot off the brake and wham! the RS rockets down the main straight. It clouts you in the back and strains your neck muscles; the sheer ferocity of its acceleration is startling. God only knows what these full-bore starts do to the clutch.

Straight-line speed2017 Audi TT RS

Still, there’s more to life than straight-line speed. And if the TT RS is truly the pint-size R8 we’re hoping for, it needs to be just as fleet-footed in the corners. Good thing we’re on a racetrack, then.

Keeping it wheel2017 Audi TT RS

One immediate similarity with the R8 is the new steering wheel. Compact, flat-bottomed and Alcantara-wrapped, it adds an authentic motorsport feel particularly with the new ‘satellite’ buttons for engine start/stop and switching drive modes. Shame you can’t have a manual gearbox as well; the RS comes with a seven-speed S tronic semi-automatic only.

Get a grip2017 Audi TT RS

Heading into turn one a hairpin right-hander the Audi’s steering feels light and responsive. There’s barely any body-roll as the front tyres bite and Quattro four-wheel traction catapults us towards the next corner. Scything effortlessly through a tightening corkscrew, then a flat-out, uphill left-hander, the RS feels utterly planted. It simply grips and goes.

Shift into neutral2017 Audi TT RS

As our confidence grows, we push harder, but the TT RS stubbornly refuses to be provoked. Even as grip turns to slip, it remains remarkably neutral. The juddering understeer of Audis past is just that: a thing of the past.

Scorched tyres, baked brakes2017 Audi TT RS

We return to the pitlane with the smell of scorched rubber seeping through the air vents and smoke pouring off the (optional) ceramic front brake discs. Clearly, the TT RS is an easy car to drive very fast. But it’s almost too capable on-track, lacking the poise and throttle-adjustability of a good rear-driver. Perhaps it will be more rewarding on the road.

Going topless2017 Audi TT RS

We swap into a Roadster for a drive into the Iberian countryside. The drop-top is 0.2sec slower to 62mph than the Coupe, but the chance to soak up some Spanish sun seems ample compensation. Besides, the TT RS looks even better with no roof. Hawkish headlights and a gaping grille with ‘Quattro’ lettering provide plenty of rear-view-mirror presence, while twin tailpipes and a fixed rear wing beef up the back end.

Cabin fever2017 Audi TT RS

The TT’s exterior is simply an amuse bouche before the main course of its cabin, however. Stylish, ergonomically excellent and beautifully built, it’s one of the finest interiors of any car on sale. The centrepiece is Audi’s digital ‘Virtual Cockpit’, which takes the place of traditional dials behind the steering wheel. Standard-fit on the TT, the RS has an additional screen with a central rev counter and readouts for torque, tyre pressures, G-forces and other such geekery.

Cramped in the back2017 Audi TT RS

You also get Audi’s excellent MMI Navigation system, subtle LED interior lighting and gorgeous quilted leather sports seats. Not that these offer much comfort if you’re seated in the rear. If you thought a Porsche 911 felt cramped, this is the next level of back-bending, neck-cricking claustrophobia. Our advice: consider the back seats a useful extension of the boot.

Playing the long game2017 Audi TT RS

Talking practicality, we should also mention fuel economy: a claimed 34.4 mpg for the Coupe, with CO2 emissions of 187g/km (Roadster: 34.0mpg and 189g/km). Hardly ground-breaking figures, but at least strong residual values – 43% of list price retained after three years/60,000 miles, according to CAP – keep overall running costs down.

Filth and the fury2017 Audi TT RS

We press the red start button and the TT’s five-cylinder engine – an Audi RS trademark dating back to the original 1994 RS2 – erupts into life. Its pulsating growl, which swells into a hard-edged snarl as the revs rise, is amplified by the lack of a roof. With the exhaust in sport mode, it sounds downright filthy.

Jolts and jitters2017 Audi TT RS

Leaving Jarama, the TS RS jolts over speed humps and jitters across broken Tarmac. The optional 20-inch wheels on our test car doubtless don’t help (19s are standard), but there’s no escaping that firm, borderline-uncomfortable ride.

Explosive performance2017 Audi TT RS

The pay-off comes as we head into the hills, switching Drive Select to Dynamic and changing gear manually using the paddles behind the wheel. On sinuous switchbacks that snake through rock-strewn valleys, the uber-TT feels in its element. Magnetic Ride adaptive dampers (another option, naturally) hunker it down deliciously, before another huge slug of turbocharged torque blasts us between the bends. It’s deft and controlled, yet utterly explosive.

Redeemed on the road2017 Audi TT RS

Phew. With exhausts ticking furiously in the heat, we park the TT RS back at Jarama and reluctantly return the keys. After a slightly underwhelming session on-track, the Audi has redeemed itself on the road. Where some RS-badged Audis – latest RS3 included – feel aloof, the TT RS comes alive. It’s a car you’ll genuinely enjoy driving, over and over again.

Porsche is our pick2017 Audi TT RS

However, there is a hulking Porsche-shaped elephant in the room, and its name is 718 Boxster/Cayman. We spent a week with a Cayman S shortly before the TT launch and there’s no question which German sports car we’d spend our (sadly, theoretical) £50k on. Despite reservations about its new, four-cylinder engine, the Porsche is a simpler, purer sports car – and all the better for that.

A kind of magic2017 Audi TT RS

Not convinced? We can agree to disagree. After all, the Audi is quicker, more powerful, better looking, nicer to sit in and will be more exclusive. It even has rear seats… sort of. But in those rare moments when the traffic clears, your focus sharpens and the road becomes a ribbon to be reeled-in, the Audi is merely memorable. The Porsche? It’s magic.

Ford Escort RS Cosworth

Ford Sierra RS Cosworth: Retro Road Test

Ford Sierra RS CosworthPhwoar. Thirty years after it was launched, the Sierra RS Cosworth still looks mega. A jutting front bumper peppered with air intakes, wide wheelarches and, of course, that Boeing-spec rear wing: it’s enough to make men of a certain age need a lie-down.

Ford built 5,545 examples of the original three-door Cosworth, but many were modified, stolen or crashed – possibly all three. Today, this turbocharged hot hatch is a bona fide classic car, with mint examples of the limited-edition RS500 nudging £100,000.

The Cossie won’t ever appeal to blazer-and-red-trousers set, though: this is a working-class hero. And you know what they say about meeting your heroes…

What are its rivals?BMW M3

A family hatchback with near-supercar performance (in its day), the Cosworth broke new ground. This was the 1980s, remember, when the dividing line between ‘mainstream’ and ‘premium’ was less blurred than it is now.

Its closest rival was perhaps the original ‘E30’ BMW M3: another homologation special born for the racetrack then tamed for the road. However, the M3 was markedly more expensive, and a very different – if equally exciting – driving machine. Ironically, values for the two cars aren’t that different today, and both command a cult following.

What engine does it use?Ford Sierra RS Cosworth

Open the Sierra’s louvred bonnet and… phwoar! Few things get us more excited than a bright red cam cover embossed with: ‘DOHC 16-V TURBO COSWORTH’. The 2.0-litre engine uses a Garrett T3 turbocharger to boost output to 204hp, or 224hp in the RS500. Racing versions boasted up to 600hp.

The standard Cosworth we’re driving is from Ford UK’s heritage fleet and was used as a development car at Dunton (hence the rollcage). Get past the inevitable turbo lag and it blasts to 60mph in 6.5 seconds. V-Max is 149mph.

Interestingly, the ‘Cossie’ was claimed to be the first road car to generate downforce at speed. That whale-tail wing isn’t just for car-park posing, you know…

What’s it like to drive?Ford Sierra RS Cosworth

Two hundred and four horses was an enviable stable in 1986, but even a Fiesta ST200 tops that today. The Sierra’s closest descendent, the new Focus RS, has 350hp.

Even so, floor the right pedal and the winged warrior still feels quick, its raucous four-pot rasping as the rear tyres break traction on damp Dagenham roads. The gearshift is a little rubbery, the steering slightly slow-witted, but there’s no shortage of feedback.

Find a quiet B-road (or an empty McDonalds car park) and the Sierra is more than happy to go sideways. Yet it’s less intimidating than I expected, despite the total lack of electronic traction aids. Don’t expect the scalpel-sharp precision of an E30 M3, but the Cosworth isn’t the blunt instrument its Essex-boy image might suggest.

Reliability and running costsFord Sierra RS Cosworth

The Sierra’s ‘YB’ Cosworth engine is reliable in standard tune; problems usually arise when over-enthusiastic owners crank up the boost. It also found a home in later Sierra Sapphire and Escort Cosworths, so spare parts are easy to come by. However, cosmetic items, such as spoilers or interior trim, could be much harder to source.

With any luck, whatever money you spend on fuelling, insuring and maintaining your Cossie will be more than covered by its appreciation in value. Owning a classic Ford is better than money in the bank – and certainly more fun.

Could I drive it every day?Ford Sierra RS Cosworth

There’s a certain irony in the ‘people’s performance car’ being tucked away and saved for special occasions. But few, if any, Sierra RS Cosworths are daily-drivers today; skyrocketing values have seen to that.

Rust is the sworn enemy of most classics, so we suggest storing the car over the winter months, then enjoying it to the full come summer. A Cosworth should definitely be kept garaged all year round, though; thieves prey on fast Fords, and Cossies are notoriously nickable.

How much should I pay?Ford Sierra RS Cosworth

‘A lot more than a few years ago’ is the easy answer. At the time of writing, there were just four three-door Sierra Cosworths for sale on Pistonheads, with the cheapest at £45,000. That’s nearly three times the £15,950 the car cost when new. RS500s are pricier still, despite being an inferior car to drive on the road, according to contemporary reviews.

Depressingly, the four-door Sierra Sapphire Cosworth is heading in the same direction. You’ll struggle to find a standard example for less than £20,000.

What should I look out for?Ford Sierra RS Cosworth

Firstly, steer well clear of any Cosworths that have been tuned. Turning up the turbo boost destroys driveability as surely as it decimates the car’s value.

Don’t buy without a comprehensive service history – there are plenty of obsessive owners out there – and check the VIN number on the chassis matches the logbook (V5C). The Sierra’s bodykit is fairly adept at hiding corrosion, too, so get your knees dirty and poke around underneath the wheelarches and rear suspension.

If you’re considering an RS500, check with Ford that the car is genuine: fakes aren’t unheard of. Above all, we’d advise getting a professional inspection from a specialist before you buy. On an investment-grade car like the Cosworth, it’s money well-spent.

Should I buy one?Ford Escort RS Cosworth

Like shoulder pads and Shakin’ Stevens, the Sierra Cosworth is a product of its time. Drive one today and it’s fun, but ever-so-slightly underwhelming: a little bit baggy and not outrageously fast.

Does that matter? Probably not. The Cossie remains one of the coolest cars ever made. If, like us, you grew up reading Max Power and lusting after hot hatchbacks, it’s still the daddy.

If you’re looking for an investment, a three-door Cosworth is up there with the best fast Fords. But do us a favour and take it for a blast occasionally. Wherever you go, you’re likely to receive a hero’s welcome.

Pub fact10_sierra_RRT

The Escort Cosworth replaced the Sierra in 1992, and was actually based on the Sierra Sapphire Cosworth 4×4 chassis – rather than the Mk5 Escort it resembled. Power from the YB engine was increased to 220hp and the whale-tail made a comeback – albeit as an option.

Jeremy Clarkson famously bought a Escort Cosworth in the 1990s. He said: “Late at night, when all I wanted to do was to get home, it would be sitting there, angry and spoiling for a fight.”