Up until recently, Ford was letting the Europeans have all the fun when it came to hot hatches. With the current-generation Focus, the same Focus ST that is being sold in Europe is also being sold in the United States thanks to the One Ford initiative. But, before the last-generation European Focus bid farewell, Ford’s RS division offered the hottest Ford hatch they’ve ever made; the Focus RS500. The RS500 is a 350hp, front-wheel drive monster that crams all of Ford’s engineering into an everyday commuter. Though we haven’t driven one, we find the idea delicious. There is at least one Stateside, and it made an appearance at the 2013 Woodward Dream Cruise.

Focus RS500

The RS500 had unique exterior features, and included HID headlamps and special wheels.

Anyone who has driven a high-powered front-wheel drive vehicle before should be aware of what torque steer is. When applying throttle, the steering wheel will often turn by itself instead of holding a straight line. In the Focus RS500, that would be the case but Ford has developed a RevoKnuckle mechanical differential that attempts to keep it in check.

Ford’s RS engineers have always been able to make Focuses that handled well, and by adding the horsepower that the RS500 has, it is still one of the best handling hot hatches in the world. It also came in bold colors, like the green shown here.

Ford Focus RS500

The RS500 features a big, usable storage area behind the rear hatch.

This vehicle epitomizes why hot hatches are popular in Europe (and growing in popularity in the United States). They offer hatchback practicality and comfort, the latest in technology and impressive performance. For a family that can only afford one vehicle, it is important to have a vehicle that can do it all. Hot hatches like the Ford Focus RS500 are a compromise between practicality and sport, but the sacrifices are very few. We definitely would not have minded driving this up Woodward Avenue!