Volkswagen invented the hot hatch segment in the United States, and for decades, the company had it almost entirely to itself. But Ford was waiting in the wings, and has used the experience it accumulated building cars for European audiences to fine tune its stateside offerings. Both the Focus and the Golf offer multiple body styles and similar powertrains, so picking between them will likely prove tough for any buyers not constrained by brand loyalty.
One thing worth noting? VW offers its Golf R with a dual-clutch transmission, which uses the same type of tech seen on dedicated sports cars from Porsche and Ferrari. So let’s find out how these two competitors stack up.
2018 Ford Focus vs. 2018 Volkswagen Golf Performance Comparison
Verdict: Ford is winning the battle as far as engine selection and power output goes. And while the 350-horsepower, 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine from the Focus RS has garnered lots of headlines, the humble 1.0-liter is a triumph of engineering that’s won 10 International Engine of the Year awards.
Ford Focus Engines:
- 1.0-liter turbocharged EcoBoost I-3: 30 MPG City/40 MPG Highway* | 123 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque
- 2.0-liter Ti-VCT direct-injection I-4: 25 MPG City/34 MPG Highway* | 160 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque
- 2.0-liter turbocharged EcoBoost I-4: 22 MPG City/30 MPG Highway* | 252 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque
- 2.3-liter turbocharged EcoBoost I-4: 19 MPG City/26 MPG Highway* | 350 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque
Volkswagen Golf Engines:
- 1.8-liter turbocharged I-4: 25 MPG City/35 MPG Highway* | 170 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque
- 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4: 24 MPG City/34 MPG Highway* | 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque
- 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4: 23 MPG City/30 MPG Highway* | 292 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque
2018 Ford Focus vs. 2018 Volkswagen Golf Price & Lifestyle Comparison
Verdict: Performance-wise, Ford takes the checked flag in this match up, at least as far as range-topping models go. But VW offers a wagon body style, and delivers the excellent driving dynamics the Germans are known for across the board — even if options will prove more expensive than those of its American competitor.
The base Focus comes in at $17,860**, and the standard Golf is a little pricier at $19,895**. While the Focus is available as either a sedan or hatch, the Volkswagen comes in hatch and wagon versions, with no sedan option. So for those looking to haul cargo, the Golf wagon — which is available with all-wheel drive — makes for an attractive option. Both models feature a hot hatch as their range topping model, and here the Ford, and its Focus RS, is the performance benchmark. At $41,120** the cost of entry is higher than the Golf R, but with 350 horsepower on tap, it significantly outguns the 292-horsepower Golf. That said, some reviewers have found the Ford’s track-tuned suspension a little stiff, which means VW’s pocket rocket might make a better daily driver.
Today’s hatch segment is an exciting place, and both the Ford Focus and the Volkswagen Golf deliver practicality, versatility, and fun. So if you’re weighing between the two? Make sure to schedule test drives at your local AutoNation Ford and Volkswagen dealer, because this is likely to be the most fun you’ve ever had buying a car!
*Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.
**MSRP excluding tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.