The 2016 Ford Focus RS stands at the pinnacle of the American hot hatch landscape, a turbocharged high performance marvel that brings with it a history of dominance in the European market. Of course, with Subaru no longer producing a hatchback version of its venerable STI and Mazda long having put the Mazdaspeed3 out to pasture, there’s really only one other boy-racer compact hatch around with the specs to tackle the RS head-on: the Volkswagen Golf R.
The Ford Focus RS makes for a formidable adversary. Its 2.3-liter, four-cylinder turbo engine produces 350 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque, shuttled through a standard six-speed manual transmission to an all-wheel drive system that’s capable of moving power front, rear, and side-to-side in order to maximize traction and handling. There’s even a ‘Drift’ mode that pushes as much as 70 percent of engine torque to the back axles and softens the car’s adjustable suspension dampening to facilitate smoky slides around a skid pad (if you’re so inclined to roast the car’s optional, ultra-grippy Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, that is).