Ford Focus ST Versus Volkswagen Golf GTI

The Ford Focus ST and the Volkswagon Golf GTI are lightweight, fun to drive, and easy on the wallet. Ideal for a first-time driver or a commuter car for those that don't want to rack up high mileage on a more expensive auto, these cars are a good value for the price paid. But what's the real difference between the two? They're both from reliable manufacturers with a long history of innovation, so let's explore which car gets the most bang for the buck.


Which Car Ranks Better for Safety?

The VW GTI features automatic emergency braking connected to forward sensors. These sensors will determine if a crash is imminent. If the driver doesn't apply the brakes, the car will. The Focus doesn't have this feature, which comes standard on the GTI. The GTI also has a post-collision braking system, intended to protect those inside after a collision when the airbags deploy. The Focus does not have this feature, either. Both vehicles have driver and passenger front and side airbags The GTI, however, has video sensors alerting the driver to objects in their path both backing up and potential front collisions. In three different tests by the National Highway Transportation Safety Board, the GTI has outperformed the Focus in crash safety.


Which one has a better interior?

Much the same as the outside, the Ford Focus ST goes for a sporty interior. Options like Recaro racing seats enhance the aggressiveness and performance gauges on the dash make it look like you are driving a supercar. With regards to space, the Ford Focus ST offers a front legroom space of 43.1’’ with back legroom of 33.2’’. Cargo limit comes in at 23.8 cubic feet. The inside of the Volkswagen Golf GTI likewise pays tribute to its outside with a restrained cabin that goes for quality and solace rather than over-the-top sportiness. Interior space comes in at 41.2’’ of front legroom and 35.6’’ of back legroom. Cargo volume comes in at 22.8 cubic feet.


Which Vehicle Has Better Reliability?

The engine of the GTI is cast iron, while the Focus is aluminum block. Aluminum block tends to warp and crack more quickly than cast iron, which leads to reliability issues later on in the Focus's life. Consumer Reports rates the GTI’s reliability 20 points higher than the Focus ST. In J.D. Power reports, Volkswagon vehicles score higher in terms of reliability than Ford.


Which Car Has the Most Pick-up?

In speed tests by Motor Trend magazine, the GTI outperforms the Focus - although only by a few tenths of a second in some instances. For example, measuring acceleration from 0-60 mph, the GTI tops out at 5.7 seconds, while the Focus is 6.2. For many drivers, that half-second is a negligible difference, but many do note in reviews that the Focus seems to lag just a bit in responsiveness.


Does the Focus Or the GTI Have Better Fuel Economy?

Many car buyers choose one of these two cars because they're relatively cheap to fill up. The GTI gets 25 mpg for city driving and 33 mpg on the highway, while the Focus gets 22 mpg in the city and 30 on the highway. The GTI features an automatic shut-off of the engine when the car is stopped, both reducing emissions and saving on fuel. The Focus does not have this feature. It's important to note, however, that this feature isn't included on tests of fuel efficiency.


Which Car Has Better Suspension and Handling?

The GTI has a driver-adjustable suspension which allows the driver to enjoy a more comfortable ride on longer trips or a "sports suspension" which increases maneuverability on tricky roadways. On a Motor Trends skidpad test, measuring stopping accuracy, the cars were nearly even. In several driver reviews, the Focus was noted for wider steering and less maneuverability around corners, while the GTI was tighter. With a turning circle four feet less than the Focus, the GTI performs better in terms of maneuverability.


Which Car Has More Passenger Space and Cargo Capacity?

Neither car is designed to carry more than four people or haul oversized cargo. However, even a few inches of space can make the difference in passenger comfort. The GTI has a bit more cubic feet of passenger space than the Focus - 93.5 to 90.7. The trunk space of both cars is measured with the rear seat area folded down. Here, the GTI has substantially more space, with 52.7 cubic feet to the 43.9 the Focus boasts. Reviews of passenger comfort put the cars about even.


Which Car Rates Better: Ford Focus or VW GTI?

In car magazine and industry reviews, the Volkswagen GTI has been chosen for Car and Driver's Top Ten for the last 11 years, while the Focus hasn't achieved that rating since 2013. Both Motor Trend and Automobile magazines have selected the GTI as a Car of the Year and an All-Star, honors the Focus hasn't received. To sum up, in every measurable category, the VW GTI edges out the Ford Focus.

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