VW Golf 1.2 TSI vs Ford Focus 1.0 EcoBoost

24 Jun, 2013 11:00am

The VW Golf now carries a tiny turbocharged engine. But can it knock out our current favourite, the Ford Focus?

If you want to get ahead in the compact family hatchback sector, you’ve got to downsize. Virtually every major manufacturer now offers a model with a small-capacity turbocharged petrol engine that aims to deliver big-car performance with supermini running costs.

The latest to join the ranks is the new VW Golf, which gets the brand’s tried and tested 1.2-litre TSI engine for the first time. Boasting a respectable 104bhp, and claimed fuel economy of 57.6mpg, the newcomer certainly looks good on paper, while in entry-level S guise it features an eye-catching £18,160 price tag. Factor in top-notch quality and first-class refinement, and the Golf promises to be a strong performer on its road test debut.

However, before it can start celebrating, the VW must face our favourite small-engined hatch: the 1.0-litre Ford Focus EcoBoost. With its sparkling driving experience, strong performance and low running costs, this Focus represents a stern test for any new arrival. And while it’s around £100 more expensive than its opponent in this test, in mid-range Zetec trim it benefits from more power and a longer list of standard equipment.


Does the Golf make as much sense in attractively priced entry-level guise? Well, it doesn’t feel like a bargain-basement special, as it’s every bit as refined, comfortable and solid as more expensive versions.

Elsewhere, the 1.2-litre TSI engine is a real gem, delivering smooth and eager performance, plus remarkably strong fuel returns. And as with other models, you get a spacious and practical interior, a big boot and classy, understated looks. However, the kit list is slightly spartan. Essentials such as Bluetooth and air-con are standard, but that’s about it.

That’s not a criticism you can level at the Ford, which is dripping with showroom appeal – alloy wheels, a leather-trimmed multifunction steering wheel and heated windscreen are all included. It also looks bolder than its rival, while the agile handling and keen engine make it more fun to drive. And although it’s hampered by a small boot, the rest of the interior is spacious and robustly built. So is that enough to give the Ford victory? Not quite.

The Focus is better equipped, but can’t match the VW’s extremely strong residuals, great-value servicing pack and diesel-like economy. Factor in the superior practicality, top-notch quality and class-leading refinement, and the Golf takes a narrow win.

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Can some one explain why the ecoboost motor got an award for best motor when this VW engine handily beats it in mileage. Reading results for the ecoboost elsewhere had results even worse, at 35-37 mpg. Looking for a vehicle in this market area means looking at precisely these figures mpg.

AE is so predictable. You can anticipate who they will make the winner before you read the article and then you read the dread word "residuals". As if these bore any relevance to how a vehicle is to drive. They are obiter dicta at best.
In abstract (having experienced neither vehicle) both these power units have little appeal. No-one seems to get anywhere near the supposed consumption figures and I have a sneaky feeling the customer is being asked to carry out a long term test programme for these novel units. There has been rather a lot of the latter in the recent past.

I ran a Skoda Yeti for two years and averaged 42mpg with the 1.2TSI engine against an 'official' mpg of about 44 mpg. You can get the economy if you don't thrash them but the trouble is that people rev them and then complain about the economy.

One big problem, VW will expect £18k for this basic spec Golf, no Ford dealer or customer will expect much more than about £15k for the Focus, which more than makes up for the residuals and running costs, and is a far equipped to boot, and if anyone actually believes a bottom of the ranges pauper spec Golf will have residuals as good as those posted in this article is deluded. Also look at the prices as tested, the Golf is nearer £20k than it is £18k, A better equipped A3 is cheaper.

Over £18k for a car with wheel trims and a plastic "single" function steering wheel (ie it steers and nothing else, no remote radio control or anything most of us have grown to take for granted), they say there is one born every minute, probably why VW sales figures are so high.

Because the awards are rubbish? To be fair the Ford engine isn't too
far off but obviously doesn't live up to the hype. I'm surprised how good both are though - considering the mpg
includes performance testing and they won't have been driven with economy in mind 48.3 mpg from the 1.2TSI suggests to me that well over 50mpg is a realistic real world figure for day to day driving. I think that might actually make it a better proposition than the 1.6 diesel for a lot of prospective buyers when you factor in the lower purchase price. That's quite an achievement.

So basically the ford is better in every way, except the badge? ...And this makes it worse?

There is not a person on earth, that would prefer the golf over the focus for these two versions here. The 1.2 TSi is not a terrible motor but the 1.0 ecoboost is better in every way and looks more to the 1.4 tsi 122 for the way it accelerates. Also you can't compare the way the focus rides or handles vs the golf with the torsion beam. In europe the way the basic golfs are softened to counteract the sh itty torsion beam in the rear is more or less a common fact. The golf finishes last in every dynamic test since it got tested for the first time. Only downside for the ford is the trunk and the way it looks if you are senile (something not relevant to one's age). So, yeah talk to the hand AE.

Yeah I can explain. The VW doesn't beat it. How is that for an answer. The way with these small turbo petrol engines is, that they achieve good mpg only under certain conditions. You have got to cruise lightly and make the car use its direct injection status which means poorer air to fuel ratio. This is only achieved when you don't thrash it as mentioned. The more you deviate from that the more you will see them consume fuel. The 1.0 is a higher speced higher powered motor than the 1.2 in every way and has to move a heavier car than the golf and does so faster. Which means it will need more fuel. You can't have higher power and better acceleration and drink less for two similar teched engines. I persoanally have the 1.4 TSi of the previous gen VAG motor. When you cruise, it really makes "diesel a bit obsolete" because it can achieve very good mpg. So does the 1.0, slightly better! But that is where it ends. Around town or "when you are in a hurry or just a stupid mood!" expect to be what they are, turbo petrols with a lot of power and mated to very long gearboxes that move heavy cars.

I achieve 47 mpg going at 70-75 miles on motorways or country roads with the 1.4 Tsi leon I drive which weighs in at 1330 kgr. Empty without my 110 kgr that I weigh and add some extra buggage I usually take with me. Imagine a 3 cylinder of similar power and torque which is the ecoboost. In normal cruising mode it can do the same and even has potential for better mpg, it just looses less energy as a three cylinder. Usually "journalists" (they are not, not really) don't drive as you and me do in the real wold. There is nothing more left to say really...

Factor in the fact that the Focus is pig ugly, and looks like an old Korean model, and its no contest!

I've driven both and in comparison to the Focus 1.0 Ecoboost the Golf is as flat as a pancake, both in terms of performance and driving dynamics. The Focus Ecoboost engine make you recalibrate your expectations about engine size. The Golf 1.2TSi makes you wonder why they bothered.
As far as residuals are concerned, you'd have thought that a publication that purports to understand the motor industry would understand how depreciation is actually calculated. Clearly you don't understand this.

Have you actually investigated what is excluded from the VW Service Packs? If you think that it will cover your servicing costs or that it's anything like a maintained contract in a lease from a reputable provider then you'll be very, very disappointed. These Packs are sold to the ignorant (that's not meant in the disrespectful way).

Oh, and have you noticed how utterly boring VW Group products are these days?

That is actually a very good point. I've noticed Autoexpress and some other magazines slating the Ford and Vauxhall for not holding on to their residual value.
They use this better residual argument to push up the VW Group cars scores, conveniently ignoring the eye-watering discounts that VW rivals give their customers.
Consumers need to be aware that VW Group cars hold their value better only if the residuals are worked out from the list prices. After dealer discounts Vauxhalls and Fords are perhaps far better options for most.

It is IMHO a dead heat stylistically. One is ugly whereas the other is a bore concocted by an unimaginative team of stylists.

Both German & both dull as for mpg we need real world figures.

1.2T Leon - £15.6k list price.

Let's put it this way:

Focus has 123bhp, Golf 104
Focus has 147 lb ft, Golf 129
Focus does 56.6mpg, Golf 57.6 "diesel like"
Focus is 15k, Golf if 18-20k
Focus comes with alloys, leather-trimmed multifunction steering wheel and heated windscreen
Focus looks "bolder"
Focus is "more fun to drive" and has better "agile handling"
Focus has a rear independent suspension, Golf has torsion bar suspension (your forgot to mention that)

The conclusion is obvious: the Golf is better.

Have a nice day!

Personal opinion as to a car being ugly.

I agree, and my opinion is that it is pig ugly!

If nothing else, when two high profile makes get "tested" it really does stir things up. Both Eurojunk anyway.

You will really have to think of another cliché!

But is the VW 1.2 TSI engine utterly reliable?
And does anyone really pay list price for a Ford?

I love the Ecoboost motor from an engineering perspective. Having driven it in a Fiesta today, I also can say I love the power delivery (120 bhp version) and engine sound. However, the nay-sayers appear to be right. On the route to the Missus' work it only managed 42.3 mpg. Some way off the claimed 65 mpg! That was mostly country lanes for 60 miles or so, ranging from 40-70 mph. In other words, pretty much ideal roads for reasonable economy.

Funnily enough, every other car she has driven regularly on that route has also done around 40-45 mpg too, from 1.3 Ka to 1.8 MR2 and a 1.6 Astra.

I borrowed a recent Focus 1.6 petrol that also did about 40 odd mpg and had a whole lot less to go wrong with it. That seems to make more sense - away from the EU tests that is.

Shame really, as I really wanted to like the Ecoboost engine, but I'm doubting it now.

I really wonder what these small petrols are like on hills? I was daft enough to buy a new 05 1.8 petrol Vauxhall Vectra on the basis of a test drive on the flat. Wonderful engine at 5,000 rpm, which was needed to tackle any country road with a hill following a sharp bend. Often in 2nd gear. A diesel 4wd which was bought to replace it would romp up the same hills in 4th gear.

Wouldn't the 100PS Ecoboost be a much better comparison? And the SEAT Leon with the 1.2 TSi engine is probably a better direct match for the Focus.

£18.000 For a 1.2 base spec Golf no thanks.

Only needed to read the title of the article to know the winner.

Yeah it is no contest you still pick the focus.

But, the experts have said the Golf is better. The Golf will no doubtedly last longer, it IS built better in every way, the dashboard is extremely well designed on the Golf.
At the end of the day, its a basic car. If somebody wants a car to get them from A to B, they want a solid, reliable car. The dashboard on the Focus is among the most plastic (and fussy) dashboards i've ever seen. Its horrible.
Plus, you scrape a wheel trim? £20. Scrape an Alloy? £80, steel wheels will be cheaper to replace if you hit a pothole, steel wheels will be cheaper to replace tyres on.
The Golf will hold its money better, and be cheaper to run, so the more expensive asking price is probably little ask for the amount you'll save.

It would be, the only problem with that is you would test it in SE spec
at a similar price point which would be a foregone conclusion in favour
of the Seat, as it would still offer greater refinement, a bigger boot, higher residuals, lower servicing, insurance
and running costs, a more upmarket
interior and smarter exterior whilst reversing the marginal performance
advantage the 123bhp
ecoboost has over the 1.2tsi and bettering the kit list of the Focus Zetec too.

I thought that's why these models have a turbo fitted.

I agree. Got any suggestions? I will stop, for a while anyway. I really must get out more. So should you. You're on here more than me! Regards.

Regards returned. Would only suggest you avoid epithets entirely!

I agree - both Eurojunk. Both boring Euroboxes that do a great job of blending into the scenery. I would not be spending my money on any of these two.

Golf isn't the best car around these days, but it's still up there with the Focus' and the Kia Cee'd.

Of course the Golf was going to win. It's AE,the golf is the best out to them

Kia is no where near Golf or Focus standings, who are you trying to kid?

Well so far it seems few are able to get near that figure for the Ford Ecoboost engine - 40.1 on HJ Real MPG.

Just out of interest, which marque would get your money?