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Cold weather, hot hatch: Ford finding early Focus RS sales success

The automaker has averaged more than 500 RS sales each month since the car went on sale, and buyers are paying through the roof for 'em.

2016 Ford Focus RS
Nick Miotke/Roadshow

Ford's annual sales in February 2017 might be down year over year, but the Focus RS hot hatch is proving that its heat applies to both its driving dynamics and its sales figures.

The Big Blue Oval has pushed over 3,500 Focus RS models out the door since it went on sale in the summer of 2016. That's an average of more than 500 models a month, with sales holding strong through the winter, thanks in part to its standard all-wheel drive. While that might not seem like much, bear in mind it's the most expensive Focus by a large margin, with a starting price north of $35,000.

I'm more partial to gray than blue, but I can see the appeal.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

But buyers aren't even stopping at that price. In fact, the average transaction price for a Focus RS in the US is a staggering $42,351. You can thank some serious options for that -- Ford called out the $2,785 RS2 package, which adds leather-trimmed Recaro heated sport seats, a heated steering wheel and navigation.

Gray is the most popular color so far, capturing about 32 percent of models sold. Blue is a close second, followed by black and white taking up the rear, respectively. Ford has repeatedly ignored my demands to apply the same neon green hue that adorns the Fiesta ST, and likely for good reason.

The most popular state for this all-wheel-drive hatchback is California, where 627 have been sold to date. Ford's home state of Michigan takes second place, with 256 units, and as a Michigan resident, I feel I've seen about half of them already. Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania are also hot spots for this hot hatch.

While those are good numbers, the RS is still a small slice of the whole Focus pie. According to Good Car Bad Car, Ford sold 12,691 Focuses (I'm not allowed to use "Foci") in February. Using Ford's average monthly sales figure of 500 units, that would put the RS at 3.93 percent of total Focus sales. Not too shabby for an expensive niche variant of an affordable family car.

It's also up against some well-established competitors. For example, Subaru sold 2,498 examples of the WRX and WRX STI last month, which is five times Ford's average. But it's worth mentioning that Subaru does not split up WRX and STI, and those two carry wildly different price tags. The WRX, for example, starts around $27,000, and since the STI carries a price tag very similar to the Focus RS, there's a world of difference there.

Still, for a car that appeals to a niche consumer with a price tag that even further limits its appeal to many of its core enthusiasts, the Focus RS is selling nicely, which is proof that cars like this can survive in the US.

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