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Ford Focus ZX3 vs. VW Golf



  • Dear dhk,

    1.8T: I am pleased to hear that information. I would check the owner's manual for confirmation. That is a big advantage because I do not like to spend money on premium fuel! I will check that out. Still we have to wait to see the 1.8T in the US GOLF.

    TDI: I believe the TDI is not widely available in California. (or discontinued!). As we all know, CA has tighter emission laws and the TDI unfortunately is over the line in regards to particle emmision.

    V6 Focus: I will see it to believe it. I think you will see a modified 2.0 L Ztec (turbo?)or a larger displacement 4 cylinder. I doubt that you will see a v6. I read Car and Driver, but not Automobile.

  • ...or New York. If VW had not instructed its dealers not to sell a TDi-equipped vehicle to any California or New York residents (this ban is national, by the way, so no sneaking to Nevada to pick up a Golf TDi -- even though it's been certified to meet current California and New York air quality standards!), I may very well have purchased one by now.

    There are several discussions of this unfortunate issue at . Nobody is very happy about it...
  • Today I was able to test drive a new Ford Focus ZX3 Hatchback. Price was $13,440 for a 5 speed with no options. My impressions? The ride felt just like my wife's Ford Escort ZX2. This is not to say it was a bad ride but certainly not as fun to drive as the Volkswagen Golf. It will appeal to many for it is much cheaper than the Golf.
  • A confirmation:

    I also read in Automobile magazine about the Focus v-6 for 2001. How will they make it fit? I dunno?!
  • The 1.8T from what I hear will not make it into the Golf. It is in the beetle because the VR6 won't fit. If you want power in a golf get the VR6, don't bother waiting for a 1.8T
  • nedzelnedzel Posts: 787
    dragway, I think you are mistaken. Everything that I have heard says that the 1.8T will be available in both the Golf and Jetta starting in the Spring. You can get more information about this at

    I have a VR6 GTI GLX, which I like a great deal. But surely there is a market for a decent performing GTI which isn't loaded to the gills with options like the GLX. Not everyone wants to spend $22-23K on a hatchback.

  • Actually, the VR6 does indeed fit into the Beetle. Many aftermarket tuners have done this conversion shortly after the Beetle was introduced. Whether VW will do this from the factory remains to be seen.

    Also, the 1.8 turbo engine will be available in the Jetta and Golf in the coming year. It's been announced in several car magazines.

    Now, if they'd only bring the VR6 Golf Syncro here...

  • The Focus hatchback has 130 h.p. it can't be
    all that. While the GTI has 170 h.p.(I think) I doubt Ford will be able to match engine size and
    have a higher output then that w/o a turbo or
    supercharger, wouldn't mind seeing it though.
  • I've got a local dealer with the one I want. Now I hear the 1.8T is coming. I was going for the 00 VR6 because there was no 1.8T to compare it to. Now what do I do? Performance and reliability are my first priorities followed closly by tweeking options. Is the VR6 a better buy out of the box or should I wait to see what comes in the spring.
  • when enough people tell ford what they want,
    things happen!!

    this is an excerpt from

    "The Ford Focus is already selling at a record
    pace and Ford Motor Company is finding it difficult
    to keep up with dealer demand. This has caused
    small delays in popular options being available for
    the ZX3. However, on or about February 7, 2000,
    Ford will make available power windows, power
    remote mirrors, a Convenience Group with
    tilt/telescoping steering wheel and map lights, as
    well as an option for speed control available on
    the very popular ZX3.

    According to Julie Roehm Ford Focus brand
    manager, dealers should be able to place their
    orders any day now to receive delivery of the new
    ZX3 with these popular options near the end of
  • judasjudas Posts: 217
    I went through this very problem recently and have decided (But not yet purchased, obviously) on the 1.8T. Out of the box, the VR6 definitely gets the nod, being around .5 seconds faster to 60. Last I saw the VR6 did it in 6.9. The 1.8T Golf according to a european friend does 0-62 in 7.6, so probably anywhere from 7.3-7.5 here, depending on whether the thing will hit 60 in second. Those times sound about right, the 1.8T Bug does it in 1.6 and the Golf is lighter. Reliability should be fairly close, although with any turbo you run the risk of having your turbo blow, I wouldn't be too concerned about it. The 5 valves per cylinder is also more complex, but again, I wouldn't worry too much about it. Handling wise the 1.8T should beat the VR6 if it has the same suspension, as the 1.8T will be a little lighter and have a better weight bias. The place where the 1.8T really shines is in aftermarket tunability. Having talked to many people with VR6's there isn't a whole lot more power to be had from that engine bolt on wise. To really get significant gains you'll have to pull out the engine and do things like increase compression, replace cams, add either a turbo or super charger, etc. With the 1.8T it's easy. Just spool up the charger to a higher level. At the stock 150 HP the turbo is only blowing 4-5 psi. A chip that revises the fuel mapping and bumps it up to 8-9 psi (Which the turbo is easily rated at) gets you 180 HP. Throw on exhaust and an intake and you've got 200 HP (This is from numerous aftermarket companies and several European car mags). For $1900 you can get a KO4 turbo to replace the KO3, that (With exhaust and intake) will get you 200 HP. Not bad for bolt on's and a total investment of maybe $2500. I've even seen a step by step of the turbo replacement and it looks like any reasonably mechanically inclined person could handle it. I've already started saving for aftermarket goodies for my GTI. First thing is adjustable coilovers and 18" wheels. I'm not going to touch the engine for at least a year or 10000 miles, just in case there are any initial bugs to be worked out. After that I'm not too concerned about voiding the warranty, as this'll be my third vehicle and only for entertainment purposes. 250 HP in a Golf sounds pretty entertaining to me. :)
  • judasjudas Posts: 217
    I didn't realize that post was so long. Sorry about the lack of paragraphs.
  • orlockorlock Posts: 25
    The major trouble with VW parts is that the new parts are generally on baackorder for a longer period than Ford and the cost is more expensive too.

    The problem is that our dealership ranks near dead last in customer satisfaction in VW, yet near the highest for Ford for that very reason (not to mention that VW parts books and slide suck very much).

    If something unique should fail on that Golf, be prepared to wait a few months.

    Something has come up with the Focus recently and that is the price for glass. For some reason it is outragiously expensive (a couple of versions of the rear glass are nearly $3,000). A good hit that cracks the glass and sets of the saftey systems can total the vehicle. If a kid hits it with a baseball, that kid could be in some serious debt.

    Yugos had the same problem. A Yugo was a total if the bumper, hood, the safety system and both fenders were damaged.
  • I have a '99 GTI and have suffered many problems, when the window fell into the door and caused damage inside, VW expected me to drive the car for 3 weeks without a drivers side window, while the parts went on backorder to Germany, I refused, after 3 days in a rental ($25 per day paid by VW) the dealer agreed to take the parts from a new car he had in stock, I think he did this because so far it has spent 12 days off the road with other problems. My wife has a Ford (not focus) and this has had no problems, My advice would be Ford. VW has reliability issues, my dealer has told me that all my problems are common.
    The Golf is a great car spoilt by serious problems.
  • what is all the concern about? i refer specifically to some posts back in topic #262. are people of Mexico not able to produce as good a product as people of Germany? I am not Hispanic but I find the concerns some of you posted about a car being built in Mexico to be unsubstantiated and blatant stereotyping... highly prejudiced.
  • silyboysilyboy Posts: 90
    Little FYI for everyone looking to get a Focus or a happy owner of one already! (Personally my order is going in tommorow for mine)......
    Awards as of this date and as far as i know--
    2000 North American Car of the Year
    Car & Driver 10 Best
    Automobile Mag. Car of Yr.
    AAA Best Buy under $15000
    "runner up" Motor trend Car of Year

    and it has received numerous good reviews in other magazines and newspaper around the country.
  • qwordqword Posts: 20
    Yeah, but so does everthing else that is brand new. Give it a few months or maybe even a little longer when you can start reviewing the long term wrap ups on the car.
    Although making car of the year in Europe did impress me I must admit.
  • First off, I like both cars. Obviously Ford has done an outstanding engineering job on the Focus, and it's European Car of The Year for 99 is good testament. The Golf, however, is much classier kit IMHO. The interior of the Focus comes off as econobox with an attitude, the Golf's looks like it belongs in a car costing around $30K. The TDI engine is wonderful, my wife has a Jetta TDI Auto, and the fuel savings and general longeivity of diesel engines make it not so much more to own than the Ford over a loooong haul. I haven't driven the Focus yet, but I'm betting it's more of a driver's car. The Golf IV, OTOH, can be made to handle quite well at a cost of about $1K, by adding Bilstein HD's + HR OE springs.

    In summary, the Focus is terribly difficult to top in bang for the buck relative to any VW. Just for me, I'm willing to spend a little more for the Golf TDI, because in my opinion, you get more!
  • I read the British "CAR" amgazine at Border's and they compared the Focus to the Golf along with GM and Renault equivalents. The Focus came in first place!

    What is also cool is that CAR magazine has no bias for or against any manufacturers. Example, they don't think every car should be a Honda Accord clone, like Car and Driver. Also, I once saw them call Volvos "overrated".

    If I could read in German, then I could report what they think.
  • Just purchased a twilight blue Ford Focus HB.
    I had compared the VW and decided for the money saved I would go with the Ford. So far so good. I will report back in a few months to see how it is doing.
  • When i was looking for a cheap hatchback, i considered both cars. I wanted the Golf TDI for it's better gas/mileage. IMO the Golf has a more "grown up" interior while the Focus has a "younger" and sportier interior. I think the headlights on the Golf are one of the best. I chose the Focus because it was much cheaper. The power accessories weren't necessities to me. But for under $13,000 OTD, it was about $4K cheaper than the Golf. And in the long run, i feel maintenance for the Golf would cost more since it is a foreign car. And the interior of the Focus is solid and the seats are soft, making it seem like a more expensive car. The exterior speaks for itself.
  • abarrabarr Posts: 2
    There's a GTI 1.8T in the showroom of a local dealer. Haven't driven it yet, though. I'm still waiting on a 5-speed ZX3 to compare the two.
  • I have driven both and the the 1.8T is a lot more fun to drive. You can not beat the power and acceleration of the turbo. Butt what you will notice is the price difference! my local dealer had the GTI 1.8T with monsoon sound, auto, and cold weather package. It stickers at 21,070. NO ZX3 will ever reach anywhere near that price!
  • I've also been comparing the ZX3 with the GLS 1.8. No offense to the Ford, but I'd have to say that the Golf has got the slight edge in quality, fit and finish - it's a very tight, well made car. Inside, the GLS has the feel of a luxury car twice it's price.

    There's no doubt that the Focus is a great deal. I haven't driven one yet, (can't find one to test!), but I think that Ford's hit a homerun in styling, (love or hate it).

    When it comes down to it, there are 10 main reasons I've decided to go with the Focus:

    1. Weight difference. For an automatic (I've got a bum leg, so have to drive an auto), the GLS 1.8T (aprox. 2,994) is over 300 pd heavier than the ZX3,(aprox. 2,650). This just about makes the turbo's hp/torque advantage vanish.

    2. VW's lame 2 year/24,000 mile warranty - get real.

    3. Golf's are almost impossible to find here in the Detroit area, let alone purchase under MSRP.

    4. VW salespeople have been downright rude to me, and they give the word "clueless" new meaning. It's bad when you know more, a *lot* more, about the product than the people supposedly selling it.

    5. VW's crummy ordering system. It's just about impossible to get *exactly* the car you want. They want you to take the "package" cars that are sent over to them.

    6. Premium gas. Yes, I know that some folks say you can run reg unleaded, these engines are designed to run on premium. Run reg and you risk problems, poor performance, and reduced milage.

    7. Insurance - I was quoted a much higher rate for the VW turbo than for the reg 4 banger in the Ford.

    8. Possible long waits for parts/repairs on VW, although it seems like Focus owners are experiencing similar problems.

    9. $400 Ford college graduate incentive.

    10. Price, price, price! Like silyboy stated, a GLS 1.8T, with automatic, CD player, and destination is going to run way over $20,000. A totally loaded ZX3 tops out at under $15,600.

    I really like both of these cars, they both have advantages and drawbacks. If I had expendible income, I might go with the Golf, but being a graduate student on a tight budget,I just can't justify spending the extra $$$.
  • i have to agree with krazyrabbit on everything he has said! yes the VW has better fit and finish and materials on the inside, but all those other factors add up to a huge economical difference! The premium fuel, the 400-500 more every 6 months in insurance, lack of a college grad rebate, and a vehicle that almost always sells at MSRP or just under makes a difference to people like krazyrabbit and i!
  • I'm looking at either the ZX3 or the Beetle TDI. The reason I like the TDI is the awesome gas mileage (45-50 mpg). Also, if I lease it, the residual rate for 3 years is approx 65%, compared to 49-50% for the Focus. But the Focus can be bought for around the same amount per month. I'm stressed out here. Any help on which to get?
  • mylittlepudge: Are you saying that you can get a NB TDI for the same price as a ZX3 and you still can't make that decision??? Have you actually driven both cars so you can see for yourself what you like better? To me there is no comparison, but each to his own. On the other hand, if you have no TDI experience, you should realize there are some expenses that partially offset the gas savings. Service is more expensive (after the first 2 years during which time it's free) because of more expensive oil, oil filters, fuel filters, and especially timing belts. And fuel quality and price can vary in the US, especially in the NorthEast during winter. (See Fred's TDI forum for more than you will ever want to know about the TDI.)

    krazyrabbit: I agree with much of what you say except points #1 & 2, but you say you haven't even driven the Focus yet! How can you like a car which you haven't even driven? You are comparing two cars that are worlds apart (IMO) in terms of ride and refinement (and price.)
    Cheap cars are almost always the better deal, because any car will get you around.

    If you drive both cars together you will see that your statement #1 is rediculous. The VW despite it's weight is way faster. (And the weight gives it a better ride and feel.) The 1.8T is the engine from the VW Passat, and even in the Passat it's going to be faster than the Focus (and smoother and quieter etc. etc.)
    As far as #2 goes, VW's also come with a 10 year, 100,000 mi powertrain warranty, and include maintenance for the first 2 years. A 2/24 BTB combined w/ a 10 yr powertrain warranty is NOT "lame"! Get real yourself. How would you like to give someone you don't know a guarantee for 10 years on something as complicated as a turbocharged 5 valve/cylinder engine. That is an impressive warranty.

    I don't own either VW or Ford, but I've test driven all of them several times recently. The Focus is a nice inexpensive car, and the VW is a nicer more expensive car. And the 1.8T and Lux Pkg etc adds a lot to the price. If you want a really nice econobox, you might like the Mazda Protege ES (w/ 1.8). They've got a $1000 rebate right now (Edmunds buy of the month.)
  • The ZX3 tied with Civic SiR for Sport Coupe of the year in the 2000 Cars of the Year granted by the Automobile Journalist Assn of Canada. Both ZX3 and SiR beat out VW Beetle 1.8 and BMW 323 Ci.

    The Focus went on to take first place honors in two other catagories. The ZXT, Family Sedan under $25,000 and the LX the Economy Class.

    Now let me see, how many awards does that make in 2 years? Is it 23 or 21? What ever, can Golf come any where near that?

    I've driven a German Golf, owned a number of VW Rabbits, a Beetle Convertible, and a VW Baja Bug. Enjoyed all of them except for the Rabbit rust problems and diesel blow by problems. Now, when it comes to enjoying the handling and comfort, none meet the Ford Focus ZX3.

    Focus ZX3 Rules!!!!!

    proud daddy of a ZX3
  • qwordqword Posts: 20
    True, but there's got to be some reason why the VW Golf has out sold everything in it's class for nearly 5 long years.
  • How do the golf and Focus compare in price across the pond? Also, what about the Opel Astra? I hear it's #2 in Euro sales.
This discussion has been closed.