Ford Focus vs Volkswagen Golf

Ford Focus vs Volkswagen Golf: new car comparison

Which is better, the Ford Focus or Volkswagen Golf? Our new-car comparison guide tells you everything you need to know.

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By Cazoo editorial team

The Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf are among the UK’s best-selling cars. They’re both great cars and, in many ways, there’s not much to choose between them. So how do you work out which one is best for you? Here’s our guide to the Focus vs Golf, looking at how the latest version of each car compares in key areas.

Interior and tech

The latest Golf went on sale in 2020, so it’s a newer model than the Focus, which went on sale in 2018. The Golf has a more contemporary – even futuristic – look than the Focus on the outside and the theme continues inside. The Golf’s dashboard has very few buttons because most of its features are controlled through the large touchscreen display. It looks great and, although it takes a while to get used to, you soon learn how to find the things you use most often.

The Focus’s interior is more intuitive to use. There are buttons and dials to control the air con and stereo, and an easy-to-use touchscreen display that controls the infotainment system.

Once you’re familiar with their interiors, both cars make you feel at home and are comfortable even on long journeys. Both have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, sat nav, air con and cruise control, all of which will make long journeys easier. The Golf has a more premium look and feel but the Focus very nearly matches it for quality.

Boot space and practicality

The Focus and Golf are near-enough the same size outside and inside. Both have enough space for four adults to be comfortable on a long journey. The Golf has a bit more headroom than the Focus, so it’s the better bet if you’re on the tall side.

Each car is roomy enough to work as a family car, whatever age your children are, and it’s easy to install Isofix child seats in each. Small children have a better view out of the Golf’s back windows and its interior is a bit lighter and brighter than the Focus’.

Boot space is closely matched. Both cars will easily hold a week’s worth of family holiday luggage, though the Golf’s boot is an extra-pair-of-shoes bigger. Fold the back seats down and the Focus has a lot more space, so it’s better for trips to flat-pack furniture shops. But the Golf’s back seats fold almost flush with the boot floor, so it’s easier to slide in the big stuff. If you want a car that’s even more practical, the Focus and Golf are both available as estate cars.

Which is the best to drive?

The Focus and Golf are both enjoyable to drive, and they do the everyday stuff extremely well. They’re nippy around town, easy to park, stable and soothing on motorways and very capable on country roads.

But the Focus is more engaging because it makes you, the driver, feel like part of the machine, not just its operator. The Golf isn’t boring to drive by any means, but it feels more relaxed. So which is best to drive depends on what you want from a car. If you really enjoy driving, the Focus is better. If you want a car that’s more relaxing, the Golf is the one to go for.

Both cars are available with a wide range of engines that are strong enough for high-speed driving. There’s a plug-in hybrid Golf available, too. The sporty Focus ST-Line and Golf R-Line have bigger wheels and firmer suspension that gives a slightly harder ride, but they’re by no means uncomfortable. The high performance Focus ST, Golf GTi and Golf R are among the best hot hatchbacks.

Which costs less to own?

The Focus and Golf are available with a range of fuel-efficient petrol and diesel engines, some of which have mild hybrid technology. That’s an extra electrical system connected to the engine that helps improve fuel economy and reduce carbon emissions, but which doesn’t give you the option of electric-only power or plugging in to recharge the battery. Whichever engine you have, the Focus generally uses slightly less fuel than the equivalent Golf. The most efficient petrol-powered Focus gives 55.6mpg, according to official figures, while the equivalent Golf gives 53.3mpg.

The plug-in hybrid version of the Golf –  called GTE – is one of the more costly models in the range but it has an official average of more than 200mpg and very low CO2 emissions that put it in a low bracket for company car tax and road tax.

Safety and reliability

Ford has a reputation for building durable, reliable cars and the latest Focus has lived up to that in the few years it’s been on sale. Being a newer model, the Golf is relatively unproven but Volkswagen has a good reputation for reliability as a brand. It’s unlikely that either car will give any serious trouble and they’ll last a very long time if looked after properly.

Both cars are rated highly by safety organisation Euro NCAP, which gave them full five-star ratings. Each has advanced driver safety systems such as automatic emergency braking and lane-keeping assist.

Dimensions

Ford Focus

Length: 4378mm 

Width: 1979mm

Height: 1454mm

Boot space: 375 litres

Volkswagen Golf

Length: 4284mm

Width: 2073mm

Height: 1456mm

Boot space: 380 litres

Verdict

The Focus and Golf are both great cars that cover most peoples’ needs. They’re spacious and practical enough for family life, yet compact enough to be easy to park. The Golf’s styling and interior have more ‘wow factor' and will appeal if you want the latest high-tech model. The Volkswagen brand is considered more desirable than Ford, too. But the Focus has a more user-friendly interior, costs less to own and is more fun to drive. And that’s why, by a whisker, the Focus is our winner.

You can now get the latest Ford Focus with a Cazoo subscription. For a flat monthly payment, a Cazoo subscription includes a new car, insurance, maintenance, servicing and tax included. All you need to do is add fuel.

You’ll also find a wide range of high-quality used Volkswagen Golf and used Ford Focus cars for sale at Cazoo. Find the right one for you, then buy online and have it delivered to your door or choose to collect it from your nearest Cazoo Customer Centre.

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