BMW M2 vs Ford Focus RS: Head to Head

The past 12 months have been good to car enthusiasts. We’ve been blessed with a glut of delicious new metal to fawn over, and two of the most exciting cars of 2016 are also two of the most accessible.

The BMW M2 Pure and Ford Focus RS are both worthy of ‘driver’s car’ distinction, yet these two highly discussed performance machines go about getting there in significantly different ways.

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Where the BMW is a modern, thoroughbred rendition of a tried and true formula, the Ford is a rambunctious upstart, with technologically sophisticated underpinnings that make unsophisticated driving not only possible, but assisted.

Naturally, in the interests of science, it’s important to find out which of these two cars is better. Can an unhinged hot hatch really tangle with a pedigree M car that costs almost twice as much?

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On paper they’re an interesting, albeit unusual match-up. Both cars are turbocharged and have six-speed manual transmissions, and appeal to people who like cars and driving. That’s about as far as the similarities go.

The M2 uses a 3.0-litre straight six to generate 272kW at 6500rpm, and 500Nm from 1400 to 5560rpm. It’s rear-wheel drive, and has no launch control or, in fact, much in the way of electronic assistance whatsoever. It costs $89,615 to buy.

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The Focus RS uses a 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine, measuring in at 257kW at 6000rpm, and 440Nm between 2000rpm and 4500rpm. It is all-wheel drive, but – much to the anger of the fun police – is able to isolate most of its power to the rear wheels when the now infamous Drift Mode is engaged. Ford will charge you $50,990 for one.

Wheels took both cars to the drag strip, the set of an extremely low budget Ken Block video, and a selection of different roads to see how these two manufacturers have gone about creating their version of a user-friendly driver’s car, and to work out how they stack up against each other.

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