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Ford says Mustang is its second-most-recognized model in Europe, after the Focus. Chalk that up to the white Ford Mustang in Claude "Rendezvous" Lelouche's "A Man and a Woman," Lemme Caution's Mustang in Jean-Luc Godard's "Alphaville," and Serge Gainsbourg's tune "Ford Mustang." Bang. Notice all these mid-'60s cultural references are French? Surely it was coincidence that Ford chose the South of France to launch the performance version of the Focus. The C-segment compact has less than one-fourth the history of the iconic Mustang, and no known European paean.

Before the Ford Focus launched in Europe in the late '90s to great success (less so in North America) there was the Escort, and before that, in the Gainsbourg days, the Cortina, a European Ford nearly as iconic as the American pony. What made -- makes -- the Cortina an icon in its own right is the respect the high-performance Lotus version garners from enthusiasts.

Read more: 2013 Ford Focus ST First Drive - Motor Trend


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