Not everyone enjoys zooming around traffic with their teeth firmly clenched, but when behind the wheel of a proper hot hatch, this tends to be the only way to drive. You get the most out of these cheeky little monsters when behaving like a nut rather than pottering along in the slow lane.
Nope, they’re not meant for Miss Daisy — not when some of them on our market are finally offered with a six-speed manual (that’s not a typo…) sending the grunt provided by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo to the front wheels.
We’re talking about the Focus ST of course, which knows how to give those able to fit in the tight seats a real buzz. Although it’s going against very tough competitors in the shape of the A 45 AMG and Golf GTI, the Ford was never in any real danger of not being our segment winner. It just has too much going for it.
Aside from the fact it hits 0-100kph in just 6.5 seconds, has a top speed of 250kph and a blown four with 252bhp and 366Nm of torque, the Focus ST boasts a superb, lowered chassis that has proper hot hatch manners; understeer on corner entry, oversteer on lift off. Perfect. It seems to egg you on what with a fabulous slick row-your-own with its short throws and raspy exhaust note. The speed-sensitive steering is precise and sharp, while a trick electronic limited-slip differential with brake-actuated torque-vectoring keeps things restrained (barely).
That Ecoboost engine isn’t just peppy, it’s economical too and sips around 12 litres per 100km in the real world. Even though it’s heavier than the GTI, it’s quicker.
The GTI was a firm favourite until we found out that VW doesn’t offer the superb Performance Pack here (Dejan was a huge fan when he first drove it in France last year). In the current garb it feels more like a GTI Mk6.5 rather than a Mk7. Because of that, and despite all its merits, it quickly falls by the wayside.
The A 45 AMG is the most powerful car here, packing 355bhp and a wonderfully savage roar from the exhaust. It’s Stuttgart’s first hot hatch and seriously impressive, but a Dh200K-plus price tag for an A-Class feels unreasonably excessive.
When it comes to driving thrills, the Focus ST delivers just as much for less than half the money at Dh95,000. Now that makes the ST a seriously good performance bargain — and, unsurprisingly, our Hot Hatch of the Year.