At long last, our winner. And seven very worthy runners-up. All of which are attainable and practical and make you love driving again. Plus, a chat with Elon Musk and a couple road trips.
Think back to high school: Music needed to be louder, food needed more fat in it, and cars were interesting only if they were orange or yellow or polka-dot obnoxious. Most people grow saner as they get older (exception: fat tastes good forever), but everyone needs to go high-school-grade crazy occasionally. Ford's Focus ST is that crazy. The ST is an ordinary hatchback with a turbocharger, a stiffer suspension, and a silly amount of power. But it also has a front end that's like a bloated catfish. It comes in a color called Tangerine Scream, and the interior is an ADD explosion of glossy paint and alien shapes. The bratty sport seats have ST stitched on them in big red letters, just in case you forget. The exhaust is a thunderous din, a peace-disturbing boom-thump that trips car alarms in parking garages. A six-speed manual is the only transmission. The ride is jarring but somehow not annoying; the car gobbles up corners giddily, like a dog straining a leash. There is nothing subtle here, and it bends you toward obnoxious acts. Most car makers don't have the balls to build a car this ridiculous, and the ones that do rarely sell them in America. It's a reminder that cars are gutsy, juvenile things at heart; deep down, the good ones speak to the sixteen-year-old you. You don't drive something like this by accident, but then that's kind of the point.
Read more: Esquire http://www.esquire.com/features/cars/car-of-the-year-1012#ixzz2IdU8srvF