Ford releases European-built 2017 Focus RS

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Ford is released its European-based Ford Focus RS in the U.S. after years of car enthusiasts pinning for the vehicle. (KABC)

Before now, the hottest small Fords were only sold in Europe. Now finally, to the delight of enthusiasts, the 2017 Ford Focus RS is a charged-up compact screamer of a car that is built in Europe.

It's available at Ford dealerships right here in the U.S. for the first time, with a base price of $36,120.

For decades, American car enthusiasts could only look wistfully across the Atlantic and drool at the kinds of cars Ford sold over there. Small cars bursting with performance, torturing buyers here who would love to have owned one.

Of course, you've always been able to get an all-American performance Ford here, such as the new Mustang GT or Shelby GT350. A thumping V8 engine driving the rear wheels - big muscle in USA style.

The Focus RS arrives on our shores as a "world car," with only a few subtle changes for the U.S. market. The turbo-charged 2.3-liter four cylinder engine packs a huge punch: 350 horsepower. A 6-speed manual transmission is the only one available; no automatic is offered.

An advanced all-wheel-drive system gets the power to the pavement, sticky tires and huge brakes round out the chassis improvements, and of course, there are enhanced styling elements on the outside and deeply bolstered Recaro seats.

So why is a car like this available now when it wouldn't have been in years past? In addition to demand, the standardization of regulations helps, too. It's much easier these days for a car company to build a model that meets the safety and emissions standards on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

Volkswagen has actually been selling their hottest compact here for a few years now, the high-horsepower all-wheel-drive Golf R. And it's been confirmed that Honda will be selling their hot Civic Type R here soon, a car that's been on sale in Europe for several generations.

Speaking of Europe, the Ford Mustang is now on sale there officially for the first time, and buyers in places such as Germany are lining up for the American car they've been pining for. (Just like buyers here are now on waiting lists for the hot German-built Focus RS.)

It seems that the so-called "forbidden fruit" of cars has been desired both here and in Europe. Now, car enthusiasts in both places can be happy.
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