Cost of motoring: Focus vs Golf

  • Which costs more to run: Ford’s Focus or Volkswagen’s Golf?
  • We show you why it’s important to consider the overall cost
  • Compare running costs with our Cost of Motoring tool

Buying a new car is, for most, never a simple decision.

Besides finding a car you could live with for a few years, you've should also take into consideration how much it's going to cost you to own.

This is something that many people usually don't look into in enough detail. They may look at how economical the car is, and how much it costs to tax, but rarely will they bear in mind things like depreciation or how much it costs to service.

This, the total cost of motoring, will give you the true approximate figure of how much the car should cost you over the course of your ownership. It's not necessarily easy to work out, however, so Parkers has come up with a simple Cost of Motoring tool which does the hard work for you.

All you have to do is put in the cars that you're interested in, your average mileage and how long you intend to own the car for. It then calculates the total ownership cost of each car, so you can compare running costs for each one.

So, if you've narrowed your options down to a Focus or a Golf, which one should you go for? They're two of the staple choices in the hatchback market and both very competent cars. If you've sat in and driven both, and like them equally, then what else do you need to consider? The Parkers Cost of Motoring tool can help you make a decision by giving you the total cost of motoring for each car, allowing you to see where you could save money. Finding out that one car's going to cost you an extra £2,000 over three years may just swing your decision.

We've selected two similarly-priced models to demonstrate the difference in ownership costs. The below figures, from the results of the Cost of Motoring tool, are based on three years/30,000 miles of ownership.

As you can see, you could stand to save around £1,259.26 by buying and running the Volkswagen Golf, compared to the Ford Focus.

If you take into account that the Ford costs slightly more than the Volkswagen, priced at £17,496 and £17,315 respectively, you'd stand to save £1,439.26 in total.

You might be surprised by this result, as after the Focus is typically considered the less costly choice. The Focus, however, depreciates more heavily than the Golf and also costs more to maintain over three years. It's also slightly less economical, leading to higher fuel bills.

The Volkswagen has other benefits. Despite its smaller 1.2-litre engine, it can accelerate from 0-60mph in 10.3 seconds. The Focus, with its 1.6-litre engine, manages the same sprint in 10.6 seconds. 

The Golf manages this thanks to the clever use of turbocharging, which also allows it to be more economical. It can average a claimed 49mpg, compared to the Focus' 47mpg. These differences are pretty marginal, but every little counts. Both emit a similar amount of CO2 and cost the same to tax.

Buyers may also be surprised to find that although the Focus may initially seem more practical, it's actually the diminutive Golf that has a larger boot. It can carry 350 litres, compared to the 316 litres offered in the Focus.

Now, while the numbers might suggest that the Golf is the one to go for, this isn't necessarily the case. You might not like the look of the Golf, or you may find the Focus more comfortable. You may also not have a local Volkswagen dealership, or want to maintain an existing relationship with a local Ford dealer. These personal reasons are something that only you can decide.

You may also have seen a better deal that could save you a substantial amount off the new purchase price. That might mean that you'd actually stand to save more money overall buying and driving a car that would have previously worked out more expensive to run.

What this all demonstrates is how important it is to bear in mind as many facts, figures and prices as possible when considering cars. Buying a new car is something you don't want to get wrong. If you don't like it, even if you sell it quickly it'll cost you a fair chunk in depreciation.

It's also worth bearing in mind that a car that's more expensive to buy may actually cost less in the long run. The car you pay more for new may hold on to its value better, be more economical, or cost less to service.

So, research your purchase as carefully as you can - and try to take in to account as much as possible.

After all, a little work may just save you thousands of pounds in the long run.

Note: The Cost of Motoring tool is updated constantly so the figures may change according to market conditions.

Parker's Top Tip

You can compare both new and used car running costs by using our Cost of Motoring tool. If you're thinking about changing your car then find out what it's worth by getting a Used Car Valuation, and research the replacement cars that might interest you in our New Car Reviews section.