2023 VW Golf GTI vs. Ford Focus ST

March 7th, 2023 by

Hatchbacks are the ultimate ride for people who want to maximize cargo space while minimizing fuel costs. When it comes to hatchbacks, there are two that drivers frequently compare: the VW Golf GTI and the Ford Focus ST. If you’re deliberating between the two, learning more about each model can help you make a decision. Here’s everything you need to know about how the VW Golf GTI and the Ford Focus ST compare.

Trims and Pricing

The newest version of the Ford Focus ST may not be available in the United States yet, making the only options for purchase used or pre-owned models. The MSRP for a Ford Focus ST in 2018 was $25,950, but it’s difficult to compare these prices, as the car market has changed a lot since the Ford Focus ST was in its hay day.

While the availability of the Ford Focus ST is up to what pre-owned vehicles you can find, the Golf GTI is another story. The Golf GTI is still in production, with the latest model being the 2023 version. There are three trims for the 2023 VW Golf, including the S, SE, and Autobahn trims. The starting MSRP for the S trim is $30,530 while the starting MSRP for the Autobahn trim is $39,070.


The Golf GTI historically has a more streamlined and simple profile, whereas the Ford Focus ST has a spruced-up look. When you take a look at the Focus ST, you’ll find more in the way of spoilers and detailing. This gives the Focus ST a more aggressive look, which is contrasted with the Golf GTI’s simpler design.

You can find the Ford Focus in a variety of colors when you check the pre-owned market. One popular color for the Focus ST is Tangerine Scream, a bright yellow that accentuates the car’s bold appearance. The 2023 VW Golf GTI comes in colors including Moonstone Gray, Atlantic Blue Metallic, Kings Red Metallic, Reflex Silver Metallic, Deep Black Pearl, and Opal White Pearl. If simple lines, rich colors, and classic Volkswagen flare is your speed, then the Golf GTI is perfect.


Both of these models offer sportier interior designs that help you feel like you’re in a race car, rather than a hatchback. They can also both accommodate one driver and up to four passengers, though the Golf GTI may do so a bit more comfortably.

Many of the models have flat-bottomed steering wheels, but the Golf GTI reels it in compared to the Focus ST. In many models, the Golf GTI accomplishes a more elegant and refined look compared to the Focus ST, which offers a more robust and flashy feel. The newest model of the Golf GTI offers some interior features like USB-C charging ports and multi-color customizable ambient lighting that offer a high-tech feel.

If stretching out your legs is important to you, the Golf GTI may take the cake, as most models beat the Focus ST in legroom and cabin space. This can work to help you feel less confined when you’re sitting in the driver or passenger seats. The Golf GTI also offers more space in the rear seat, giving passengers more space to breathe.

One area in which the Focus ST does outperform the Golf GTI is the cargo area, where it may be slightly bigger. In some models, the Focus ST has about 0.5 cubic feet more space than the Golf GTI. Though it’s a small difference, it may have an effect if you’re trying to fit one extra bag in the back.


For many of the Golf models, the wheels are closer to the exterior of the vehicle, making it easier for the Golf GTI to take corners and provide a fun, consistent ride. There are two powertrain options for the 2023 Golf GTI, including the 2.0-liter engine with a 6-speed manual transmission, and the same engine with a 7-speed DSG automatic transmission with Tiptronic and Sport mode. Many Focus ST models have driving modes as well, including those for wet and normal conditions. Some Focus ST models also come with a sport mode that you can use to elevate the drive.

One thing you may notice when driving the two cars is that the Golf GTI tends to be more responsive than the Focus ST. The Golf GTI often accelerates faster and creates a more dynamic driving experience. That, coupled with the enhanced handling, makes the Golf GTI a bit more fun to drive than the Focus ST.


The 2023 VW Golf GTI comes with a Head-Up Display that helps you keep your eyes on the road, which can improve safety. The Golf GTI comes with other safety features like a rearview camera system, a super-strong safety cage, and an automatic post-collision braking system.

The rearview camera system helps you see what’s going on around you, whether you’re backing out of your driveway or a parking spot in a busy lot. The automatic post-collision braking system applied the brakes following a crash to ensure no further damage occurs when the driver may not be able to control the vehicle.

The 2018 Ford Focus ST comes with standard safety features like anti-lock brakes, airbags, and a security system to keep your vehicle safe when you’re away from it. In this area, the VW far outperforms the Focus ST, simply because the newer models give the Golf GTI chances to implement new safety features that aren’t available on older models.

We hope this guide has helped you learn more about your hatchback options and which is best for your lifestyle. The VW Golf GTI comes with a suite of features that make driving a blast. It’s an all-around versatile hatchback that’s great for long drives, short trips to the store, or cruising and hugging curves. To learn more about the VW Golf GTI, swing by the dealership and get behind the wheel during a test drive. You can also contact us to learn more about our current new car inventory and how to start the financing process for your next Volkswagen.

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