Many Americans still don’t realize how awesome the Ford Focus has been in Europe. From the highly successful WRC racer, to the street tuned ST and RS models, the Focus has earned a reputation of being one of the top sport compact cars in Europe, in addition to the rest of the automotive world, except the US of course. Well that’s all about to change.

You see, after Ford of America decided that all its models from around the world would share similar chassis and drivetrains, as opposed to market specific ones for Europe, Australia and North America, the US will finally get the Focus that everyone always wanted. That, boys and girls, would be the hot Ford Focus ST. The car you see here is a concept version, which, rumor has it, is extremely close to the production model that every global market, including the US, will have available as a 2012 model. The Ford Focus ST will compete with the likes of the Mazdaspeed3 and Volkswagen GTI under the ST badge and not the SVT moniker that was once expected.

So what’s so special about this latest Foci you ask? For starters, the body has been designed with a deeper front bumper with large air intakes, a gaping one-piece grille, wider side sills, a sizable spoiler above the rear tailgate, a unique rear bumper cover housing a pronounced central exhaust and signature five-arm, double-spoke alloy wheels. The interior consists of sport seats with body-colored inserts, deep-set main instruments, a trio of secondary dials for oil temperature, turbo boost pressure and battery charge, with carbon-fiber-look trim adorning the dashboard. The Ford Focus ST will be powered by a performance-oriented version of Ford’s turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost engine delivering 247 horsepower. This provides the Blue Oval’s latest hot hatchback with an increase of 25 hp over the current European ST, which uses a turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder shared in a number of models by Volvo. A six-speed manual gearbox will be standard equipment, with power delivery being sent to the front wheels. Rumors are also flying that a sedan version is in the works as well.

I guess it’s only a matter of time before we see the young tuner crowd taking it to the Mustang with their modified Focus STs and we can’t wait.

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While the automotive monsters of the world like the Nissan GT-R, Pagani Zonda R and the entire stable from Porsche tackle the legendary Nurburgring track to see who is the fastest on the asphalt. There was another all-together different road that was being tormented by a different type of machine. This time it was the Mt. Washington Auto Road. The car, a WRC spec Subaru STi. The driver, none other than X Games gold medalist Travis Pastrana.

A record that stood for 12 years was broken by Pastrana this week. This monster of a course, which features over 100 turns, a one-mile unpaved section with a climb from a base of 1,527 feet up to the summit, 6,288 feet above sea level, was tamed by Pastrana and his STi in a blistering time of 6 minutes and 49.11 seconds. For the record, Pastrana’s lap was 20 seconds faster than the previous 12-year-old record.

For those who do not know Travis Pastrana, he started out as a young phenom riding dirt bikes. He splashed on to the extream sports scene at the X Games, where he won numerous medals during dirt trick competitions. When Rally was announced for the X Games and Pastrana was on the list of drivers in its inaugural run, many in the extream sports world questioned how this young kid ,who seemed to be fused to his bike, would do driving a rally car. The answer that Pastrana gave them can be seen below.

It wasn’t Michael Schumacher who many believed would rewrite the Formula 1 record books. No. Before Shumi took to the wheel of his F1 car, a young Brazilian from Sao Paolo came to the scene in 1984 and quickly proved to the F1 world that something special was about to unfold. Ayrton Senna was that something special. A driver with so much raw talent and strong desire to win that no one, not even himself, could contain him. If you gave him even an inch of space, every driver knew to expect that the young Brazilian would be pushing them to the limit, with his no fear and agrressive driving, which led to many victories and a number of crashes as well. 

Senna and McLaren-Honda dominated the beginning of the 90s era of F1. Tragically in 1994, while leading the San Marino Grand Prix, Senna lost control of his then Williams F1 racer and suffered a fatal accident which would cut short his racing career. The F1 world and his home country of Brazil have been mourning ever since. Even at Honda’s headquarters in Japan, for whom Senna once drove for, hundreds of floral tributes were sent from his many Japanese fans, in a country where he reached mythical status.
And it seems only fitting that from Japan we see the first trailer from the upcoming Senna documentary that is currently in the works. Asif Kapadia, director of Smoking Aces, was given the honor of putting it all together. The movie had the full cooperation of Senna’s family and the Ayrton Senna Institute. It will contain original footage and never before seen reels of the champion, showing a side of him that only a few had a chance to see. A must watch film for every Formula 1 fan around the world.

Back when Cadillac introduced the CTS, it sent a clear message to the automotive world that they had decided to leave their old image of big, soft driving vehicles to a more driver focused, performance oriented experience a la, dare I say, BMW. When people thought Cadillac, images of black on black Escalades with 24″ wheels and tinted windows would normally come to their heads. The CTS changed all that and it will forever be remembered as the sport sedan that Trinity drove in the Matrix Reloaded, in arguably one of the greatest car chases the movie world has ever seen.

Then Cadillac released the CTS-V. Now, in its current iteration, Cadillac holds the proud distinction of having the fastest sport sedan in the world. This is boldly captured in their recently released commercial below. Shot at their competitions home course the Nurburgring, or the Ring for many aficionados, the boys from Cadillac show highlights of the record-breaking sub 8 minute run around the famed German track. It’s an uber cool video that will soon make it to a cable channel near you. Until that time, press play below and enjoy the sound of that mighty supercharged Corvette engine as it punishes the asphalt with one heck of an American growl. “BMW, Mercedes, Audi. The American luxury muscle car has arrived.”

The FD2 Civic Type R. Anytime a Honda carries the legendary Type R badge on its back, you know you are about to experience something very special. Fans will argue which was the best Type R to ever come out of Japan, with many votes going way of the DC2 Integra. And while it´s hard to argue against the only Type R that America ever saw, I believe the FD2 Civic stands above them all. Sure, the NSX-R might be the rarest, most potent R model, but that comes at a premium price for exclusivity and not necessarily performance. Fast forward to the last Type R, the FD2, and you have a car that sold for under $30k and laps Tsukuba Circuit faster than a 350Z, Evo X GSR, and even a Dodge Viper RT/10.

But how is it possible that a lowly Honda Civic with a 2.0l 4 Cylinder and FF layout can be faster than a Viper, with it’s monster V10 engine, on the track? Pure balance would be the answer. When Honda decided to build its most extreme Civic, they seeked to build the ultimate Type R by maximizing the potential of all its components. The engine, while being only a 2.0l 4 cylinder, was tuned to produce over 220HP with a racecar-like redline of over 8,000 RPMs. Rumor even has it that a stock FD2 Type R was dynoed and managed to put down 237 HP to the wheels. Very impressive numbers when you consider how small the engine is. Even the AP1 S2000 doesn’t lay that much power to the wheels, albeit suffering more drivetrain loss being an FR car. The engine is mated to one of the best 6 speed transmissions ever assembled, gaining praise throughout the automitive press, as many journalists have claimed Honda as the best manual gear maker in the business.

The suspension and brakes are also a big highlight of the Type R. Stopping power came from a perfectly balanced set of Brembo brakes on all four corners. The suspension was fine tuned at the Type R’s natural home, the race track. One of the main reasons why the FD2 can run laps faster than vehicles with more power is that it can maintain higher speeds in the corners. More than one race driver who has tested the FD2 at various circuits around Japan have praised the handling of the Type R for being very stable at high speeds, having a driving characteristic of a FR car, which is the most common layout in motorsports. Throw in a set of lightweight wheels, race bucket seats, a digital cluster for speed readouts and an analog tach reading all the way to 9000 RPMs, everything comes together in perfect Type R harmony.

Last August was the final production date for the FD2 Type R. A successor hasn’t been announced, even though the rumors from Japan are that a Type R version of the new CR-Z could be in the works. With that being said, below you will find Best Motorings Civic Type R video. BM goes in-depth with the team from Honda who developed the FD2, as well as a number of famous race drivers from Japan who give us their professional opinions on what made this Type R the best performing yet.
Now, the wait begins again. What does Honda have up its sleeve and will the Type R badge ever adorn a vehicle again?
Stay Tuned

Well that didn’t take long. As we reported yesterday, photos of a new concept car by the new head designers at Mazda trickled around the net yesterday. Now it has come to light that Mazda recently invited members of the automotive press to Italy(did Mazda forget where their headquarters is located?) to show their Shinari Concept. Stunning does not fully describe it. It’s as if they combined an Aston Martin with the RX8 and bam!!, you have this beautiful work of art that is the Shinari.

The Shinari looks not that far off from a production Model RX9. If Mazda does choose to use this design for the successor of the RX8, along with a rotary powerplant with at least 300 HP, the spirit of the RX7 would truly be back.

Mazda, are you listening? Bring the Shinari concept to the masses as is. Bring back the turbo rotary that your fans have been clamoring for. Regardless, we like where this is headed.

Mazda. Zoom-Zoom. Performance. These 3 words go hand in hand. Question. Do you know which vehicles are the most raced throughout tracks in the entire U.S.A? Yep. Mazdas. If you have ever driven a Miata, Mazdaspeed3 or 6, RX8, or was blessed with seat time behind the wheel of the mighty RX7, you would know what’s so special about the performance vehicles that come out of the factory at Hiroshima.

But with these awesome performance vehicles that Mazda currently makes, there’s one thing that almost all car fans, including Mazda owners, tend to agree on. The new Mazdas are uber ugly. The smiley face. That’s what most people tend to utter when they see a Mazda on the road now. And even if your modded Mazdaspeed3 is fast enough to take on the new STi, people are still going to point at the front of the car and laugh. It’s inevitable.

Apparently the heads at Mazda decided it’s time for a change. The current Nagare design that all current Mazdas share, which was introduced by Laurens van den Acker, is on its way out.  Acker has left Japan to France, where he will now be designing cars for Renault. In his place, Mazda has now introduced Ikuo Maeda as the one that will literally pen Mazda’s future designs. Maeda is introducing a new, Kudo design theme, which literally means “Soul of Motion”.

Maeda’s first concept shows the new direction Mazda is headed for. The Shinari Concept shows cues of the RX8, but in a longer wheelbase and with 4 full doors. The front grill shows that while it’s still a Mazda, it’s definitely left that smile behind for a more serious face. The body reminds me of the Jaguars that are currently on the road, looking more performance-luxury then your standard Zoom-Zoom car. Heck, if the RX7 would come out looking like this concept, with the power to match, rotary fans around the world, and car enthusiasts in general, would be at a buzz for its release.