Motor Trend Pits New Ford Focus ST Against VW Golf R

In Motor Trend’s latest Head 2 Head episode on YouTube, Carlos Lago pits the new Ford Focus ST against the Volkswagen Golf R. I’ve driven both of these cars and I’ve owned an MKVI GTI for about a year. Here are my thoughts.

Ford Focus ST

I have to admit, as a diehard Volkswagen fan, the new Ford Focus ST managed to impress even me. Ford, in general, has made an impressive turn-around over the past 4 years with more focus on design and quality than ever before.

The ST looks absolutely stunning in white and the standard 18″ wheels aren’t half bad either. It has more eye appeal than the Golf R for sure, but that orange color is a bit too “Fast & Furious” for my taste. It would be kind of cool for 2014 if Ford would bring a bit of the front end styling of the new Fusion into the ST.

I agree with the test driver in the video here as far as the interior goes. The dash and control layout is very busy and the Recaro seats are a bit much. They are very supportive, but I found the side bolsters hindered my right arm from comfortably shifting through gears.

Driving the ST wasn’t as bad as driving something like the MazdaSpeed3 with roughly the same horsepower and torque going to the front wheels only. The ST feels more “mature” and planted than the MazdaSpeed3, but the torque steer is still noticeable no matter how much the computer tries to compensate.

VW Golf R

With German engineering and many more years of refinement, the Golf R is clearly on top as far as build quality and materials. Especially inside. The layout is conservative, yes, but everything is perfectly located and the materials feel very high end. From the satisfying “clunk” of the doors to the almost perfectly bolstered leather seats, the Golf R exudes quality and attention to detail.

The all wheel drive system on the Golf R clearly sets it apart from the Focus ST in the handling department even if you can’t fully turn off the stability control in the Golf R to throw it around race tracks. Because, you know, every hot hatch owner has access to race tracks on a daily basis.

The exhaust note may not be as exciting as the ST’s, but not everyone wants that. And if they do, there are plenty of aftermarket exhausts on the market.


I’m still very confused as to why Motor Trend compared these two models. For one thing, they are almost $10,000 apart in base price and the Golf R has all wheel drive. Yes they both have the same power, but not much else.

And why didn’t they run the Golf R on the race track? They were complaining so much about the stability control in the Golf R hindering it’s racetrack ability, yet they didn’t show it. And why, of all things, did they run the Subaru BRZ (a 200 horsepower, rear wheel drive, non-hatchback) around the track instead? Makes no sense.

I know the test was comparing cars with no modifications, but, in my opinion, I would take a similarly priced GTI with a $500 APR chip to create the 255 horsepower to match the Focus ST. That would be a comparison I’d like to see.

I should also mention, you could install a similar $500 APR chip into the Golf R and create over 300 horsepower and almost 300 lb/ft of torque. Bam.


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