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It is an iconic image: a Ford RS200 dressed in full police livery pulling over a Sierra RS Cosworth.

It was, of course, just a publicity stunt - the RS200 wore the colors of Ford UK’s local police force, the Essex Constabulary. Rumor has it that the car did see some action on patrol, and it is known to have accumulated a lot of miles early in its life, but there has never been any conclusive proof.

Besides, even the most highly trained, specialist traffic officers would struggle to handle a machine as tricky as the RS200. Developed for Group B rallying, it was powered by a mid-mounted 1.8-liter, four-cylinder turbo motor built by Cosworth that, in race trim, churned out as much 600 horsepower. In a car that weighed next to nothing. And had a miniscule wheelbase. And a rather agricultural four-wheel-drive system.

The result was a car that was immensely fast - even in 200 hp road-going trim - and would tear you a new one if you overstepped the mark by the tiniest margin. Which would be quite a shock to patrolmen used to hulking great Ford Granadas and Rover SD1s - the four-wheeled equivalent of an arthritic Labrador.

Fast forward 30 years, and Ford has recreated the image, with the latest Focus RS pulling over the now-classic RS200.

The Focus RS has been doing the rounds at UK car shows this year, alongside a V8 Mustang. It has been suggested that both are under evaluation for patrol use, but that seems unlikely as the Mustang is very thirsty, and the Focus RS is effectively sold out.

Which is a bit of shame. With 345 hp, a 0 to 60 miles per hour time of 4.7 seconds, and a top speed of 167 mph, the Focus RS can run rings around the lardy diesel BMWs that usually patrol the UK’s highways. It’s much more intimidating, as well.

Ford is one the biggest suppliers of police vehicles in the UK, about 1,500 entering service every year. Many forces use the diesel Focus for urban patrol work, while the Kuga SUV and Ranger pickup truck are used in rural areas. By far the most common, though, is the Transit Custom van, which is used for prisoner and officer transport.

Gallery: UK police Ford Focus RS

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