7th Nov 2005, 11:58

No I didn't see the programme with the guy being too ashamed to park the Focus on the drive, but I quite honestly have never heard anything so pathetic in my entire life. It says nothing apart from the guy in question needing to get himself a life! I wonder how many times he visited his hairdresser per month?

I was actually talking about NEW cars. If you want to start talking used cars, a Skyline R33 would wipe the floor with all of them, or a superbike with that. How silly do you want to get?

As for the Focus being a chavs car, you could apply that theory to any car as it gets older. Older Golf GTI's, and even older M3's are regularly seen with burberry baseball caps behind the wheel. What is your point?

The Focus ST is likely to be everything the Golf GTI is, but cheaper, and based on recent VW and Ford chassis efforts, probably a bit better handling. If you value image at £2,500 and are so blinkered that you'd disregard everything else to get it, frankly I would argue it is you who needs your head examining. This site is really designed for car enthusiasts, not posers.

10th Nov 2005, 08:25

Big hot hatch group test in this week's Autocar. Focus ST wins it, with the Golf GTI a close second.

I think you'd have to drive both before you made a decision.

Agree the Focus driveway guy is a sad poseur. I'm sure psychologists would have an suitably derogatory label for him, but I think the guy above's "pathetic" does quite nicely in the meantime.

12th Nov 2005, 14:50

The comments regarding the Focus engine hit the nail on the head. VW still use that awful 4 pot, 16v, turbo. It's tuned to the hilt and is only economic if you drive miss daisy. If you chose to thrash it, you are rewarded with poor fuel economy and an awful noise that sounds as though the engine is going to blow at 5,000 rpm +. I drive the Skaoda Octavia VRS every day and it is really hard work and has the same engine as the golf, albeit minus 17 bhp. The Volvo T5 engine in the Focus is great and you get good performance without having to thrash it. GTI - No thanks, Focus ST - yes please.

13th Nov 2005, 14:21

Just to clarify the point where somebody asked why Ford cannot put their own engine in the Focus ST. The answer is that Ford owns Volvo - so, in theory, they have! With regard to the Focus ST having poor output in term of BHP - I thought I should explain how the turbo system works. Small engines such as the Golf GTI rely on a high pressure turbo for their performance, hence making them harder to drive at lower revs. The larger engine in the Focus ST can use a lower pressure turbo as the engine is powerful enough to have good performance. It will also be evident that the Focus will not suffer from the turbo lag that I know all 4 pot engines do. I think the Golf GTI is a nice car, but it aint that great guys - it's a good car made better by it's status only!

21st Nov 2005, 03:53

Give me a mgzs230 supercharged anyday.

21st Nov 2005, 04:46

Test drove both cars this weekend. Tough call.

Interior / finish: Putting badge image aside, the Golf is not significantly better finished or "better feeling" at all. In fact, I would argue both cars are very nicely finished, but rather bland and ordinary inside. The Golf mk5 interior is not a patch on the mk4's, and although it probably does feel a little more expensive than the Focus, it's really splitting hairs. Both cars have a level of finish that astonished me for this class of car, and I wouldn't be disappointed in this respect with either of them. Narrow victory to the Golf.

Performance: Probably near identical in outright pace, but the Focus engine is so much more charismatic and far torquier at low revs. It sounds utterly fabulous with its addictive five pot warble, and amusing turbo sibilance. There are turbodiesels that would kill to be able to pull so effortlessly and strongly from idle, and it's happy to sing its way to the red line at the other end. The Golf too has an excellent engine and goes like the wind, but it would take a very special engine to be noteworthy next to the Ford/Volvo unit, and the VAG 2.0T-FSI engine is nowhere near special enough. Victory to the Focus.

Handling: Didn't get chance to push either car as hard as I would have liked, so quite hard to tell. Both cars have very disappointing steering. I drove a base spec 1.6 Focus mk1 some years ago and thought that had the best steering of any car I'd ever driven, but the system in the mk2 Focus isn't a patch on it. It does improve (if a little artificially) when flicking "Sport" mode on, but the perfect weighting and lashings of feel of the old model are long gone.

On the road, the Golf turns in beautifully, whereas the Focus rides better and feels more composed when pressing on. Tough call, but the Focus's slightly better (although still average) steering and superior damping probably just swing it for me. Considering how a dynamics argument between the previous versions of both of these cars would have been the shortest conversation in history though, it's clear just how VW have upped their game.

Styling: A clear victory for the Golf. I've always considered the mk5 Golf to be dumpy and bloated, but the red grille trim and intricate alloys of the GTI somehow set it off beautifully. The demonstrator was finished in black and it looked utterly gorgeous. By comparison the Focus is bland. I'm sure this alone will dictate a lot of sales, but I'm more interested in the drive. The Golf wins this aspect clearly though.

Costs: No deals offered on either car. Both have waiting lists, and as a result no discounts on offer. Ford likely to be cheaper to service. Depreciation tough to call. CAP are predicting similar retained values on both cars, although I suspect the VW will hold its value a little better. The Golf is allegedly more economical, although the computers in both demonstrators showed average MPG figures in the mid 20's (Golf 26.5, Ford 25 on the nose). With all this considered though, and as the Ford is still a grand and a half cheaper in ST2 spec, the Focus takes it.

Conclusion: You tell me. I sat up until 1 this morning typing this, as I thought it might help clarify things, but it hasn't. The Golf looks gorgeous, goes well, handles well, but is stupidly overpriced and the steering is bad enough in my view to detract from the driving experience. The Focus looks boring and maybe doesn't QUITE have the Golf's material quality inside, but goes harder, sounds better and is a small, but significant step ahead in the chassis stakes. I'm leaning towards the Focus at the moment, but I might have to drive them both again.