What we said then
13 January 2010: “Even in Cup form, this is a more mature, less brutish hot hatch than the old R26. And on initial inspection, it’s easy to confuse this maturity for a lack of soul. But that would be a mistake. Because get it on the right road (or better still a track) and the maturity melts away to reveal a hot hatch that is intimate, confidence inspiring and exceptionally talented.”
An expert’s view
Matthew Ashmore, Select Motorsport: “It really does a great job of keeping alive the RS spirit – the kind you get with some of the older, rawer models – while offering some comfort and good low-down torque to help with everyday driving. This is the main attraction to these cars, because they make good daily-drivers. And with a few light modifications, they go extremely well on track. We work with them most days, taking them from standard road cars to modified track/race cars. Cambelts are pretty labour-intensive and it really pays to take them to a garage that’s familiar with them. It’s all too common to see timing issues resulting in lower power and economy/efficiency.”
Engine: Check the cambelt and water pump were changed when the car turned six years old or hit 75,000 miles. An RS needs 5W-40 fully synthetic oil, and make sure you look for oil leaks around the rocker and sump covers.
Transmission: The gearbox can suffer from noisy bearings, which is a costly issue to fix. On cars with more 60,000 miles, the dual-mass flywheel can develop a faint clicking or tapping. If you hear it, be warned that it only gets worse. Interior: Make sure the underfloor storage cubbies aren’t damp. Look for any splits and cracks in the driver’s seat bolsters. And when you start the car, check that the warning lights go out.
Suspension: The anti-roll-bar drop links can wear and the rubber top-mount bushes can split. The former can be identified by a slight knock. These are minor issues compared with worn lower swivel joints, signalled by a slight knocking noise that can turn into cracking on full lock. This will render the car undriveable, because the bottom of the suspension will try to pull itself outwards under acceleration and inwards under braking.