Remember the Dodge Neon SRT-4, the compact sedan with the turbocharged engine that had a brief time in the sun before fading away into obscurity along with the entire Neon platform? It's been seven years since the last hopped-up Neon rolled off of the assembly line, which is coincidentally the same period of time that has elapsed since an American automaker attempted to compete in the high performance entry-level car game. Oh sure, we've had sticker packages and suspension upgrades - and even an unfortunate would-be SRT crossover successor caller the Caliber - but an actual purpose-built, ultra-quick compact has been absent from the Big 3 for almost a decade.
The 2013 Ford Focus ST might have European origins, but it's wearing a domestic badge on the steering wheel. More importantly, this hot hatch isn't half-baked but rather a razor-sharp sports car stuffed inside the practical confines of a five-door body shell. Look out, Volkswagen GTI, and move over Mazda MAZDASPEED3: the Focus ST has done far more than level the playing field. It's come close to taking it over completely.