Sierra RS Cosworth 4x4

It looks like a sober-suited saloon, but beneath this four-door Sierra Sapphire’s low-key lines lurks supercar-rivalling performance.

It looks like a sober-suited saloon, but beneath this four-door Sierra Sapphire’s low-key lines lurks supercar-rivalling performance.

When the four-door Cosworth first appeared in 1988, it was a radical departure from its hatchback predecessor. Without that car’s eyecatching visuals, this was more of a super saloon than a wild hot hatch. But with a 204bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre unitunder the bonnet, there was no doubting its sporting credentials. Then in 1990, the fastest Sierra got a power boost to 220bhp and four-wheel drive, which combined to give the Cosworth devastating cross-country pace. It was even a success on the world’s rally stages, notching up a number of podiums in 1992.

Nearly 20 years on, and the Sierra is still rapid. The car pictured was the last to roll off the production line, and still looks showroom fresh. However, a cramped cabin and poor refinement mark it out as an old design.

Prod the throttle, and the engine is gruff and hesitant. Yet when the turbocharger begins working, at around 3,000rpm, the acceleration is electrifying. Pitch the car into a corner, and you’ll find there’s plenty of grip, while the rear-biased torque split gives the Cossie great poise and agility. In fact, this stealthy RS Cosworth was easily good enough to see off far more expensive rivals from Germany.

* Performance: 4/5 * Heritage: 3/5 * Style: 2/5 * Driver appeal: 5/5

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Details

Model tested: Sierra RS Cosworth 4x4Chart position: 9

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