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Top Gear drag races #10: Focus RS vs VW Golf R vs Merc A45 AMG

Time for a hot-hatch 4WD mega-test. Who'll win? Find out here

If you hadn’t already noticed, hot-hatches are getting faster, a phenomenon detailed in our ‘Fastest Accelerating Hot Hatches’ gallery. But while numbers on a web page are one thing, wheel to wheel drag racing is quite another. The real world brings into play such variables as gradient, grip, nerve and the quality of the driver holding the wheel, so there’s always everything to play for.

Our makeshift drag strip assembled at the Circuit des Ecuyers, during our ‘Focus RS vs the Rivals’ group test, was neither perfectly level nor perfectly dry. It wasn’t the regulation quarter-mile in length either (a fifth of a mile was nearer the mark) and there were three normal humans behind each steering wheel. But the same conditions applied to all three cars in the race.

The weapons each model had at their disposal were quite different, too. Both the VW Golf R and 376bhp Mercedes A45 AMG are blessed with twin-clutch gearboxes, four-wheel drive and launch control (although the VW trails the Merc by a full 80bhp), while the 345bhp Focus RS has a brutally-effective launch control system, but only a manual ‘box. Will this be the deciding factor? Will we hit Drift mode in the Focus by accident and make the world’s most flamboyant getaway from the start line?

All will be revealed, including one contender that got left behind before the race had even started…

Come back next week for another drag race, and click here to watch all of our previous videos.

Big Read: Across Europe in the new Ford Focus RS

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