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Ford Focus vs Volkswagen Golf: which car should you choose?

If you’re looking for a mid-sized family hatchback, the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf may be on your list. Last year, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the VW Golf was the UK’s third best-selling car, closely followed by the Ford Focus in third place.

So, what makes these two hatchback cars so popular, and how do they stack up with one another?

In this guide:

Find out more about how the Ford Focus and VW Golf compare.

Learn more about the interior design of VW Golf and Ford Focus models including technology and layout.

This section discusses the space available in both car models and how their interior space compares.

Find out more about the trims available when buying a Ford Focus or VW Golf including the equipment you can expect to find.

Learn more about the exterior design of both cars and how they compare.

Find out more about the engine options available including mpg, torque and CO2 emissions.

Compare the costs of both cars to find the right car for your needs and budget.

Ford Focus vs VW Golf: how do they compare?

When Volkswagen launched the first Golf in 1974, it set the template for the next five decades of family hatchbacks. Now in its eight iteration, the MK8 Volkswagen Golf launched in late 2020, offering greater in-car technology than its predecessor, and a smart new look.

Ford’s Focus has a similar history with the original car marking a turning point for Ford when it launched in 1998. Engineered and developed in the UK, the MK1 Ford Focus placed an emphasis on quality and driving dynamics that has been a mainstay of the Ford Focus’ DNA ever since. The latest, fourth-generation Ford Focus was introduced in 2018 and continues its namesake’s heritage for offering a leading driving experience and impressive levels of equipment.

Interior design

The VW Golf’s interior is dominated by two screens, with very few physical buttons. While this makes the VW Golf a luxurious car to sit in, a lack of physical buttons can make for a complicated adjustment whilst driving.

In contrast, the interior of the Ford Focus is perfectly functional, while still boasting all the latest technology. All frequently used controls, such as heating and audio, are neatly laid out and easy to use without taking your eyes off the road. It offers a 6.5 or 8.0 inch touchscreen, depending on trim level, which is simple to navigate. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both offered as standard, while customers can also specify a head-up display.

Material quality is exceptionally high in both cars, with soft-touch plastics used in all commonly touched places. The VW Golf adds nice details such as felt-lined door storage bins, while automatic versions of the Ford Focus swap a standard gearstick for a scrolling gear selector, typically seen in more premium cars.

Space and comfort

Both the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf can easily fit a family of four on long journeys. Front passengers in both cars will have plenty of room and the driver can find a comfortable position due to a myriad of seat and steering wheel adjustment options.

While space in the rear passengers is ample in the VW Golf, offering more legroom than the Toyota Corolla, the Ford Focus is best in class when it comes to rear seat comfort.  

The Focus and Golf offer near identical boot space:

  • Ford Focus – 381 litres
  • VW Golf – 375 litres

Trim levels and equipment

Both the Ford Focus and VW Golf come in a number of trim levels to suit a wide range of budgets.

Ford Focus trim options and features

The Ford Focus is available in the following trim levels with the listed features.

Ford Focus Zetec (entry level)

Ford Focus Titanium

Ford Focus Titanium X

Ford Focus Vignale (Top Spec Ford Focus)

Ford Focus ST-Line

Ford Focus ST

Satellite navigation

Apple CarPlay/Andriod Auto

Quickclear heated windscreen

In addition to the Zetec’s features:

Automatic headlights

Rain-sensing wipers

Dual-zone climate control

Heated front seats

In addition to the Zetec and Titanium’s features:

Power adjustable sports seats

Digital instrument cluster

Leather upholstery

B&O premium audio system

Head-up display

Sport tuned suspension

Sports seats

Rear spoiler

Unique ST sport suspension

Power adjustable Recaro seats

Head-up display

As you can see from the table above, the Ford Focus is available in a range of different trims, each with it’s own features and technology. From the lower spec, lower priced Focus Zetec and Focus ST-Line, to the Focus Vignale, the range has something for every budget.

VW Golf trims

The VW Golf is available in the following trim levels with the listed features.

VW Golf Lite (base spec)

VW Golf Style

VW Golf R-line

GT-spec (Golf GTI, GTD, GTE)

Satellite navigation

Apple CarPlay/Android Auto

Rain-sensing wipers

In addition to Lite specs:

Three-zone climate control

Sports seats

High-beam assist

Lowered sports suspension

Sporty R-line styling pack

Unique exterior styling

Bigger brakes

Heated leather steering wheel

Again, the VW Golf is available in a range of specs with the higher priced models featuring more luxurious features.

Exterior design

The Ford Focus and VW Golf share a fairly similar footprint but the Golf is marginally longer than the Focus and is wider too.

  • Ford Focus length: 4378mm
  • VW Golf length: 4396mm
  • Ford Focus width: 1979mm
  • VW Golf width: 2073mm

However, each vehicle takes a different approach to design. It’s worth noting at this point that the MK8 VW Golf is structurally identical to the MK7, with updates focused on styling and technology. This means that the VW Golf takes a more futuristic approach to design – utilising simple lines and taking styling cues from VW’s all-electric ID.3.

However, the Focus’s wraparound headlights, sculpted wings and raising shoulder line give it a sporty, purposeful look, which lends itself well to a number of visual treatments. For example, customers wanting a more rugged-looking Focus can order it in Active specification, which raises the ride height and adds metal scuff plates to complete the ‘off-roader’ look.

Engine options

Both cars offer a number of engine options in various sizes and in petrol, diesel and hybrid versions. All engine options have their own torque figures as well as fuel consumption and CO2 emissions so how these fit with your needs from the car you choose should be considered when choosing the model, fuel type and engine size for you.


Fuel type

Engine size



CO2 emissions


Ford Focus


1.0 litre Ecoboost





Ford Focus


1.5 litre





Ford Focus


2.0 litre





Ford Focus ST

Petrol turbocharged

2.3 litre





VW Golf


1.0 litre TSI





VW Golf


2.0 litre TSI





VW Golf


2.0 litre

115, 150, 200




VW Golf

Plug-in hybrid powertrain

1.4 litre petrol engine and 13.0kWh battery






Of the two cars, the Ford Focus offers better value for money, with the base-level Zetec Edition costing £21,995 on-the-road (OTR). In contrast, the cheapest VW Golf, in Lite trim, starts at £23,355 OTR).

If you’d like to know more about the latest offers on Ford Focus cars and financing deals available, please click here or contact your local dealer

Ford options representative example

Costs for the VW Golf rise to £31, 425 OTR for the most expensive GTE plug-in hybrid, while Ford’s range-topping Focus ST starts at £29,995.

The good news is that both models are offered with competitive finance packages, so neither car needs to break the bank.

So, if you’re looking for a popular hatchback car, the VW Golf and Ford Focus are both cars that should be considered when making the decision to buy your next new or used car. The option you choose will depend on both personal preference over the features provided and the design of the car, as well as how each meets your needs and expectations from the car you buy.

To find out more about the Ford Focus and models available please contact your local dealer.