As you approach this tiny but mighty beast, you get the sense that you’re in for more of a thrill than you get from your typical practical hatch. The eye-popping blue metallic paint mixed with the black accents is a colour combo that works so well together. Behind the ‘spider web’ wheels, the huge Brembo brake calipers (that look like they’re made for a car twice the size) are staring straight back at you.
Hopping into the car, you’re welcomed by ‘RS’ logo door sills that remind you just what you’re driving. This reminder is all over, just in case you forget the car you’re in! From the door sills to the seats, to the instrument panel and the steering wheel. The list goes on. As you plonk yourself into the booty-hugging Recaro seat, looking over your shoulder you’ll spot that the rear ones are matching, with the tasteful blue stitching, of which follows through the whole interior.
Starting up the engine, you get a burble from the exhaust as it turns over. The RS is equipped with a 2.3-litre Ecoboost engine that delivers 350hp (260kW) of power and 350lb.ft (475Nm) of torque. Once you get onto the throttle and pass the 3500rpm mark, you can really feel that it’s delivering those ponies! A rush of torque hits once the turbo spools up, and along with that you experience torque steer that makes you have to fight the steering wheel as it wriggles around.
With the push of a few buttons, you can put the driving and suspension mode into ‘sports’, which livens up the party even more! As you’re shifting through the six-speed ’box (thank God they haven’t taken away the option to have a manual), all the wondrous crackles and pops of the exhaust are delivering a playhouse of noises.
Heading up to a corner and jumping on the brakes, there’s no play in the pedal, and with the bite that they have there’s no need to get on them all that early either. As you throw the car round the bends, the trusty Recaros are holding you in place and noticeably there’s no body roll. It handles like it’s on rails, which is yet another factor that boosts your confidence in driving this car quicker than the turbo spools up.
The AWD and stability systems work so quickly together that you can’t even pick up where you may be at fault while driving, carrying you through the twisty roads and making you feel like you’re a pro. Although it’s a turbo-assisted engine, while you’re on/off the throttle through the corners it’s hard to detect any lag at all, which makes it an even more enjoyable car to take through the cheeky twists and turns.
If you want to get your Ken Block on and have a bit of crazy fun (on a track of course!), you can always switch over to ‘drift mode’, which allows a majority of the power to be put to the rear wheels and tweaks the stability systems to allow you to have a controlled slide. Do not be fooled, though, as this mode doesn’t make you a gymkhana king.
There have been many cases where people go into corners unnecessarily fast in this mode, thinking it’ll work miracles and let them slide into any situation and slide ride out, with a round of applause waiting for them. But the only place they find themselves sliding is off the road and into trouble.
All in all, the RS is a tamed-down rally car made for the road and it delivers in every aspect. It looks wild, accelerates like a cheetah and switches directions quicker than someone spotting their ex on the street! It’s a car that you can drive to work and take the family out in too. For under $60K, you get a hot hatch that redefines the word fun and puts a smile on your face every time you get behind the wheel.