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The Ultimate hot hatch shootout
by David Pratte

Hot hatches have been, for the most part, conspicuously absent from the North American market. Sure, VW has been kind enough to share the GTI with us, but compared to the European market we’ve had pretty slim pickings when it comes to front-drive hatchbacks with bold styling and the performance to match.

Mazda did their best to put an end to that in 2007 though, blessing us with the first generation Mazdaspeed3 and then, in 2010, turning up the aggression with the even shoutier version in production today. One of the most powerful wrong-wheel drive cars ever offered to an American audience, we certainly found its 263-hp 2.3-liter turbocharged 4-banger to be plenty potent in a head-to-head matchup against the 2012 Honda Civic Si last year.

You wouldn’t know it based on their North American hatchback history, which has at best been lukewarm, but Ford has a long history of building some of the hottest hatches in Europe. Take the utterly bonkers 2011 Focus RS500, for example, a matte black and fender flared 350-hp beast that was only available in select European markets. But now, thanks to Ford’s world-market approach, we’ve finally been treated to a truly hot hatch for the domestic market, the 2013 Focus ST.

It may not be as over-the-top as the RS500, but with a 252-hp 2.0-liter Ecoboost engine, sophisticated European design inside and out, and some surprisingly advanced electronics controlling power delivery, it would certainly appear that the Focus ST is a very serious contender for the title of America’s hottest hatch. But is it enough to overcome the Mazdaspeed3’s stump-pulling 280 lb-ft of torque and highly effective Torsen limited slip differential? We headed to our local test track to find out.
Read the complete Ford Focus ST vs Mazdaspeed3 comparison at

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