Road Tests

Triple Test Intro: Focus RS v Megane R26.R v Impreza STi

Time 12 years ago


YOU’VE got to smile. That’s not an order, it’s a fact. You see no matter how grim life gets; how much we’re squeezed by the government for every single last penny, or how often you forget to pack your sandwiches, you’ve still got to smile.

It’s healthy, it’ll cheer up you and those around you, not to mention the fact that if you walk around with a face like thunder you’ll sell about as many cars as TVR this year.

And it’s the same for your customers. They’re feeling the pinch, sure they are, but that makes buying things which cheer them up even more important. Fast food sales are rocketing (you’ve got to admit, nothing makes you smile like a Bargain Bucket), people are still going on holiday and, shock horror, they are still buying cars.

And that’s because even when times are tight, the last things people cut back on are those that make them happy. It’s why smokers – no matter how broke – always find a fiver for a packet of fags. And to some extent it’s the same with cars that stir the soul; cars like these three here.

Hot hatches aren’t bought by people that want a motor that’ll get them from A to B. These buyers want to get to B via C with a detour to D, lunch in E, toilet break at F and a quick coffee in G – all while having fun at the same time. These people drive cars because they like cars – and because getting behind the wheel cheers them up.


It’s their equivalent to that Bargain Bucket; it puts the smile the boss wiped off back on their faces. They don’t want tin box transporters, they want a style statement. That’s why hot hatches are so popular – and why a new one like the Focus RS is such big news. There’s one key selling point all these hot hatches have in common too – their prices.


Nowhere else can fun-seeking-WLTM-bubbly-with-nice-personality customers find cars with so much performance for their pound.

So, to celebrate the arrival of the fastest front-wheel-drive Ford ever produced, we decided to line up a three-car shoot out. Sparring for honours with the 301bhp RS is the Subaru Impeza.

If looks could kill, this beast from the East would be about as deadly as a slice of soggy bread, but it’s a cult classic that has driver enjoyment at the top of its to-do list. Which is why it’s here. Completing our trio is an offering from our Gaelic cousins, albeit one that’s a bit of a break from the norm.

You see this Megane could only have been conceived after a three-bottles-of-red-wine lunch and enough Gauloises to make whoever penned it start to hallucinate. Why? Because it’s madder than a box of frogs, that’s why – I mean, come on, no normal person puts a full stop in the middle of a name, do they?

They might all be very different, but they have all got one shared purpose: Putting that aforementioned smile on their owner’s face. Cue fun…

Words: James Baggott

Pictures: Mike Askew

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Triple Test: Introduction

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James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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