Before we got the current Focus ST, America had this: a three-door hatchback, naturally aspirated, faster than a contemporary Civic Si. Welcome to the easily-forgotten Focus SVT.

There are a lot of ways to think of the 2003 Ford Focus ZX3 SVT EAP that Regular Car Reviews got to test this week.

It's a little reminder of how starved America was for European hatches back in the 2000s that we welcomed this corn-fed alternative with open arms.

It's a strange footnote in automotive history, a halfway effort before the full-on Focus ST came to the US (and hopefully some Focus RS as well).

It's also a light in what now look like very dark times of the early 2000s. As RCR puts it, the SVT Focus was, "a winking candle of American exceptionalism, still not extinguished."