Ford is a quintessential – some would argue the quintessential – American company. But some American consumers might not be aware that Ford is finally putting a car on the domestic market that was previously only available in Europe. I know what you’re thinking: what is it, some kind of four wheel moped built for the winding streets of Paris? The type of car that needs a running start to turn the engine over and could never survive on the open road back here in the good ol’ US of A?

Not quite. The 2016 Ford RS – that’s Rallye Sport; with a spelling like that I guess it is a little European – is more at home on the racetrack than on ancient cobblestone streets. This hatchback is supposedly capable of a horsepower output “well in excess” of 315. Even if it topped out at 310, that’s still five more than Ford’s EcoBoost Mustang, which is no performance slouch itself.

The RS is capable of that output thanks to the EcoBoost engine from that Mustang: it’ll have the Mustang’s 2.3 liter, turbo, four cylinder engine, but it’ll also have a much bigger intercooler and compressor, a large-bore twin exhaust, and, oh yeah, a new low-inertia twin-scroll turbocharger. All that adds up to an impressive 6500 RPM redline.

The entire bodywork of the RS will differ from the standard Focus to allow for better air-intake for that EcoBoost engine. The body will also have a wider stance, which, along with the Michelin Pilot Super Sport tire on the 19 inch alloy wheels, should provide for some expert handling. The fact that the RS is all wheel drive should help in that department as well.

Plus, this is not your run of the mill AWD. This is torque vectoring all-while drive, which means the car drives smart: it can send up to 70% percent of the torque to the rear axle and 100% to a single wheel. Naturally, Ford isn’t going to make you worry about adjusting the distribution of your torque on the fly, as the entire system is automated and senses where the torque should go.

All of this, plus the news that it will come with a manual transmission for the purists out there, should mean that Ford is putting forth a contender for the best hatchback of the year. They have their hands full at home with their American counterparts in trying to win the muscle car title. Chevy’s Camaro and Dodge’s Challenger along with Ford’s newer Mustang’s have sparked something of a revival in the American muscle car.

Ford’s competition for its hatchback however, is decidedly not American. It will likely have to compete with the VW Golf, Civic Type R, Subaru WRX STI, and maybe even whatever Renault puts out. Stiff competition to be sure, but it’s still nice to see an American company getting serious about its high performance hatchbacks. If the RS does well in the United States, maybe we’ll get to see whatever other gems Ford has been hiding away in Europe.


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