AutoGuide.com gathered six of the most significant new cars for the 2017 model year for our annual Car of the Year evaluations. This year, our contenders are the Hyundai Elantra, BMW M2, Volkswagen Golf Alltrack, Kia Optima, 2017 Ford Focus RS and Chevrolet Cruze. There was no hard price cap on this year’s entrants, but we tried to make sure none of them were extravagantly priced. We will release a new video on each contender every day leading up to Dec. 13, when we announce our winner. Stay tuned for our Crossover/SUV of the Year and Truck of the Year series, which is also coming soon!
This is the first time the 2017 Ford Focus RS has been offered in North America, and the hot hatch has a lot of enthusiasts very excited. The car basically builds on what drivers liked about the Focus ST and makes it even more hardcore.
Engine: 2.3L turbo 4-cylinder
Power: 350 hp, 350 lb-ft
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Fuel Economy (MPG): 19 city, 25 hwy
Fuel Economy (L/100 km): 12.1 city, 9.3 hwy
US Price: Starts at $36,120
CAN Price: Starts at $48,218
The biggest upgrades to the rally-inspired racer are the all-wheel-drive system and the 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder that provides a very healthy 350 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. That engine is hooked up exclusively to a slick six-speed manual sending power to all four wheels so drivers have maximum traction for powering out of corners and even drifting like the Ken Block proteges everyone aspires to be — the system can send up to 70 percent of the engine’s torque to the rear axle for maximum hoonage.
ALSO SEE: 2017 Ford Focus RS Review
The steering is scalpel sharp (even better than the BMW M2), the clutch is super intuitive and the shifter is slick, all adding up to a driving experience that has enough fun factor to make even the curmudgeonly Craig Cole smile.
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But even if drivers are just commuting to work and not playing Gymkhana, the Focus RS is amazingly tame and never feels like too much to handle. In regular driving, the car is totally accessible and easy to live with. The fact that it has hatchback versatility only adds to that easy-to-live-with nature.
If the 2017 Ford Focus RS has any downsides, it would be that its interior is quite subdued compared to its extra attention-grabbing exterior, which definitely makes it a cop magnet. This isn’t exactly a subtle car, and passersby definitely won’t think there is a responsible grown-up behind the wheel.
Still, the 2017 Ford Focus RS is one of the most engaging and well-rounded sport compacts on the market right now, making it a very strong contender for AutoGuide.com’s 2017 Car of the Year.