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Ford Focus 1.0T 100 EcoBoost Zetec vs. Volkswagen Golf 1.2 TSI S

Ford Focus

Ford Focus 1.0T 100 EcoBoost Zetec

 

The way I see it, the Ford Focus has always lived in the shadow of the Volkswagen Golf. It gets so, so close and then it falls at the very last hurdle - overall quality. You see, the Focus has always been a good car, offering a pleasurable drive, good levels of equipment, good all round refinement and excellent practicability, but the badge combined with interior quality has swayed the motoring press toward VW's offering...

...so, can the latest Ford Focus change that?

Well, for starters, it looks more modern than the new VW. The Golf is a good looking car but the Focus simply has more purpose and it is more daring in its design - it is a huge contrast from the previous Focus, whereas the Golf looks mostly the same. This daring is why, for me, I would rather be seen driving a Ford Focus. But would I prefer to drive it?

I have recently been handed to keys to a 2012 plate Ford Focus equipped with the award-winning 1.0-litre turbocharged EcoBoost engine. When it comes to buying a family hatchback, practicality and safety top the check list, but let's put that on hold for a second - this engine really defines the way in which the new Focus feels. It just feels so sporty.

Despite its modest capacity, this engine produces 99 bhp and 118 lb /ft of torque... that isn't much, but the engine loves to rev and the torque is available low down in the rev range. The result is a car that makes swift progress and can keep up with the flow of traffic quite easily. Hold on to second gear at 30 mph, plant the throttle, and on full boost the car hurtles forward at a respectable pace. It's safe to say that if you get caught out at a roundabout you'll be able to make a hasty retreat. The 6-speed manual gearbox is also smooth and willing, with a long sixth gear which keeps the engine quiet at motorway speeds.

According to Ford, 0 - 62 mph takes 12.5 seconds in this car, but I think that's modest... 12 seconds sounds about right.

Moving back to what really matters in a family hatch, practicality, and the Ford is incredibly capable. It has a 276-litre boot that expands to 1,502-litres if you flip the seats up. Interior quality is incredible compared to the outgoing model, with the dashboard laid out in a very intuitive manner - all switchgear and controls are just a touch away. Comfortable and supportive seats make for a nice place to be.

On the move, the Focus is excellent. As noted, it has perky performance, but ride and handling is fantastic - there's little body roll and the suspension absorbs bumps with kudos.

A five-star Euro NCAP rating further adds to its appeal.

At £17,295 on the road, the 1.0-litre EcoBoost Focus is more expensive than a  1.6 TDCi in Edge trim. I would say that based on the character of the petrol unit, you should go for this one, however with the Golf 1.2 TSI rolling in at £17,505, the Focus has serious competition.

 

VW Golf

Volkswagen Golf 1.2 TSI S

 

At £18,160 on the road, the Volkswagen Golf 1.2 TSI S is almost £1,000 more than the Ford Focus above. For that you get a better badge, better residuals, and if you believe what people say, better reliability.

But badge aside, is this new Volkswagen Golf really better than the Ford Focus?

Well, it is... and then it isn't. Sure, the Golf has a better quality interior, but it isn't as modern in its design. Sure, the Golf is more refined on the move, but the Ford is more responsive and fun. Sure, the Golf has a modest and uncompromised design, but the Ford will turn more heads.

In the end, each of these cars has its upsides, so let's focus on engine for engine, spec for spec.

The VW Golf here today is powered by a 1.2-litre TSI engine that develops 104 bhp and 129 lb /ft of torque - that's more power than the Focus. On the move, this shows - whereas the Focus will hurl you down the road at respectable pace, the Golf does just does it faster. 0 - 62 mph in this car takes 10.2 seconds, over 2 seconds faster than the Focus. It even has a higher top speed at 119 mph. In any gear, at any speed, the Golf simply has more verve. The 6-speed manual gearbox in the Golf is slick to use and extremely pleasant, too, possibly more so than the one in the Focus.

Another area where the Golf trumps the Focus is in practicality. The interior feels more spacious and it has a much bigger boot - the Golf manages 380-litres versus the Ford's 276-litres.

The Ford's interior is a big leap ahead of the outgoing model, but it's very much beaten in to submission by the Golf's. The Ford boasts a space ship dashboard design and more flair, but the sheer quality of this new Golf's innards is incredible. You feel as though you are sitting in a business class saloon, not a humble family hatchback.

Moving back to price, and £18,160 nets you the lowest specification of Golf available, versus the third lowest specification for the Focus. In the Golf the only standard equipment you get is electric heated mirrors, air conditioning and Bluetooth... even alloy wheels are an optional extra at £415. That's very poor.

The Ford Focus by contrast gets all of that equipment plus alloy wheels and fog lights. Cruise control in both is an optional extra at around £250. In the end, you will have to jump up to GT spec in the Golf for the best kit and Titanium in the Ford for the best kit. As it stands, you are making a trade off for better badge versus alloy wheels.

So, then...

...the Ford Focus 1.0 EcoBoost 100 is a great car for families, but in practically every way, the Volkswagen Golf trumps it. You get slightly more equipment with the Ford, and it rolls in a few hundred pounds cheaper, but it cannot match the appeal of the Golf or the level of refinement. Ultimately, both cars will serve you well, but we will have to agree with the majority here - the Golf is simply a better car.

 

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