Ford Focus ST vs VW Golf GTI: An Expert Comparison

If you’re on the lookout for a new hot hatch, the Ford Focus ST and Volkswagen Golf GTI are both extremely popular options that you may have already considered. When you’re looking for a new car, comparing different models can help you to choose the hot hatch that best suits your needs.

The Ford Focus and the Volkswagen Golf can both be found on UK roads in high numbers and their performance ST and GTI variants have been adding zest and sporting prowess to the vehicles for decades. Making a comparison between these two models will help you to find the perfect car for you.

In this guide:

Learn more about how the interior features such as space, technology and seats compare in the Ford Focus ST and Volkswagen Golf GTI.

Find out more about the exterior features on both the Ford Focus ST and Volkswagen Golf GTI.

Read this section to find out about the engine options available for both models.

Find out more about the performance you can expect when you buy either a Ford Focus ST or Volkswagen Golf GTI, including torque and bhp.  

Learn more about the costs of each car.

Ford Focus ST vs Volkswagen Golf GTI

Volkswagen started in the hot hatch class with the first VW Golf GTI in 1976 and, having introduced the first Ford Focus ST in 2002, Ford is not new to the market either. Hot hatches have more to offer than ever, with the latest models joining their respective line-ups with more power and packed with more equipment than ever before.

Let’s have a look at how these two popular hot hatch models compare.

Interior features

At their core, hatchbacks are family vehicles, fast iterations or not. So, it’s good news that both are available in practical five-door body styles. The Ford Focus ST is also available as an estate car, which is not available with the VW Golf GTI models.


As with any Ford Focus car, the new Focus ST is one of the most spacious hatchbacks on the market.

The Volkswagen is wide and spacious in the front but isn’t as roomy as the Ford Focus in the rear seats, with the Ford Focus ST offering more spacious seating and legroom for adults in the back. In addition, the floor in the rear of the Ford Focus is nearly flat, saving the middle passenger from sharing the footwells on either side. Boot storage is also plentiful in both vehicles, although the Golf GTI has a slightly bigger space.

Sports seats

Both models come with sports seats for front passengers with the usual three-seat benches to the rear of the car. Ford continue to use specialist Recaro performance seats in the front, providing ample support in the corners alongside everyday comfort. These are part leather and are electronically adjustable, making it easy to find the ideal driving position.

Volkswagen’s in-house, one-piece design is less flexible but just as sporty with plenty of support. It features the customary GTI tartan patterned cloth upholstery too so you can enjoy unique plaid seats.


Technology isn’t in short supply in the cabin of either of these hot hatches.

Both offer:

  • Infotainment screens on dashboard (8-inches in the Focus ST and 10 in the Golf GTI)
  • DAB radio
  • Navigation
  • Smartphone mirroring
  • Heated front seats and steering wheel
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Road sign recognition
  • Lane-keeping assist
  • Reversing camera

All of these features are available as standard on the Ford Focus ST, whereas, aside from the infotainment screen, these are all optional extras on the latest Golf GTI.

Exterior features

Ford and Volkswagen have both given their latest family-sized hot hatches a plethora of sporty lashing to set them apart from less sporty models.

Both models feature:

  • Rear spoiler
  • Alloy wheels
  • Unique grilles
  • Twin exhaust pipes
  • Lowered sports suspension
  • Redesigned front and rear bumper

Changes are more aggressive on Ford’s part with the Focus ST including:

  • Protruding rear spoiler
  • Dark exterior trim
  • Red ST badging
  • Sporty alloy design
  • Two-part honeycomb front grille

On the Golf GTI, Volkswagen has also introduced:

  • Sportier front end with a bigger grille
  • Red and chrome GTI trim running along bonnet edge and through headlights
  • Exterior GTI badges
  • Unique rear bumper

The overall styling of the Volkswagen Golf GTI is much more subdued than the Ford Focus ST. Despite many of the same upgrades having been made, the final outcomes are very different with the Focus ST appearing purposeful and the Volkswagen polite.

Engine options and fuel consumption

This is an area in which these two cars are quite different. Not only is the Ford Focus ST available in more body styles, Ford offers both petrol and diesel engines too, whereas the GTI model is only available with a petrol engine.


Engine Size


Ford Focus ST Petrol



Volkswagen Golf GTI Petrol



Ford Focus ST EcoBlue




The petrol Ford Focus ST offers a more powerful and much quicker car than its diesel counterpart, but it is also quicker than the Golf GTI.



Torque (Nm)


Ford Focus 2.3-litre Ecoboost petrol




Volkswagen GTI 2.0-litre




Ford Focus ST 2.0-litre Diesel




As you can see from the torque and bhp figures above, you can expect slightly better performance from both Ford Focus ST engines than the Volkswagen Golf GTI.


The price range for the Ford Focus ST begins at £29,495 for the diesel hatchback option, with petrol versions starting at £31,995. Both of these are lower than the new Golf GTI, which begins at £33,460.

These prices are not wildly different, particularly for the two petrol options, but it is certainly worth bearing in mind that the Ford comes much better equipped. In adding options to the Golf GTI car, that simply bring equipment levels in line with that of the Focus ST, the gap in prices will quickly grow.

Please click here to find about more about our offers for the Ford Focus ST.

Ford Options representative example

Ford Focus ST Offer

If you’d like to find out more about the features and costs of the Ford Focus ST, you can find out more here, or contact your local dealership today.