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£24,325 when new
In the evolutionary cycle of the RS, this ‘new’ one is more of a genetic twist than a whole new breed. Basically, it takes the updated engine from last year’s Trophy model - the quickest front-wheel-drive road car around the ‘Ring - and adds some new visuals plus a tweaked options list. And though it doesn’t get the Trophy’s superior Bridgestones as standard (they’re an option), it does get the extra 15bhp, released through a new Sport button that also hardens the exhaust noise. There’s a basic Cup version, which is the one we’d go for, or a slightly softer - but more lushly equipped - 265 model. To add a soupçon of confusion, you can have the 265 with a Cup chassis, but that makes it a bit pricey. So keep it basic: a £24,825 Cup is all you need. It comes with a proper mechanical diff, stiffer springs, dampers and anti-roll bars plus Brembo brakes. And it now does 0-62mph in six seconds dead, down by a tenth from before. This is still one of the finest hot hatches, and the small gains edge it further ahead of the competition in our hot-hatch pecking order. The changes are more empirical than experiential, but they don’t spoil a good thing.