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Unread 04-01-2017, 07:03 PM   #1
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2017 Ford Focus RS - Hitting The Sweet Spot For An Extra-Spicy Hatch?

It's been just over four decades since the modern hot hatch was born with debut of the original Volkswagen Golf GTI. In the intervening years, most other automakers have produced higher performance versions of their compact cars but since the turn of the century a new class of even quicker machines has evolved. Until recently, with the exception of the Volkswagen Golf R, these machines have been forbidden fruit on American shores. Fortunately for enthusiasts, Ford finally homologated its legendary Focus RS and American Honda dealers will soon start delivering the latest edition of the Civic Type-R.

The first Focus RS to officially come to America is actually the third iteration of the type with the two prior generations coming in the later years of the product cycle for the first and second generation Focus. Ford has followed a similar cadence with the current third generation. Through the course of each generation, Ford has introduced the standard models, followed by the quicker STs that compete against the likes of the VW GTI and Civic Si and then finally a more limited RS run before moving on to an all-new model. With the Gen-IV Focus expected to launch in 2018, time is limited for this RS.

The RS badge actually dates back to the early 1970s when Ford created the Escort RS1600 and has reappeared periodically ever since. In comparing today's Focus RS to some of its ancestors, it's fascinating to see how the bar has been raised for performance. One of the most legendary of all RS models was the 1992-96 Escort RS Cosworth. It was specifically developed to provide a basis for Ford's Group A World Rally Championship contender. That four-wheel-drive, high-winged hatchback was powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder prepped by race engine builders Cosworth and put out what was then a very impressive 227-horsepower. Today that kind of output is pretty run of the mill and is easily exceeded by many family cars like the Ford Fusion.


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