With 54.5 MPG CAFE on the horizon, a lot of people are worried about the future of hot hatchbacks, and any addition is welcome. But don't think the Ford Focus ST is on this list solely by virtue of its very existence. The Focus ST is one of the best front-drive cars you will ever have the chance to drive -- not for the relentless pull of its two-liter turbo engine, although that's a contributing factor, as is the remarkably un-American interior. What pushes the ST over the edge to true greatness its its advanced-level handling. This is a car tuned to please drivers, not lawyers, with a rear-biased balance that allows the driver to change direction simply by yanking their foot off the accelerator, a guilty pleasure found in few cars nowadays. Not that you need to worry about a pandemic of wannabe-racers flinging their Focus STs tuchas-first into the weeds like so many old-school Porsche 911s; there's enough grip for any driver to push hard and probe the ST's limits, with sport-mode stability control to step in should things go pear-shaped. All this, plus it's priced just south of the Mazdaspeed3 and the Volkswagen GTI. I know which one I'd buy!
NEXT: Ford Fusion