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New Ford Focus vs VW Golf VI vs Opel Astra 2011

Can Ford’s all-new Focus regain its place at the summit of the family car class? We pitch it against Vauxhall and VW rivals on UK roads.

New Ford Focus vs VW Golf VI vs Opel Astra 2011
Forget the storm clouds brewing overhead – the big drama this week happened on the ground. The new Ford Focus aims to reclaim its crown in the family car class, so we hit the road to find out if it has what it takes...

Our trip took in everything from congested city streets and monotonous motorways to thrilling British back roads. And our Focus 1.6 TDCi Zetec even featured stop-start, to add a dose of economy to proceedings.

With Ford’s famed chassis know-how, the newcomer was sure to excel around the twisty Yorkshire moors, but it will need more than sharp dynamics to win this test.

The Volkswagen Golf is the current class leader, and has one of the broadest and most talented model line-ups in the business. We have praised the eco-friendly BlueMotion for its compromise-free design – and the green machine was our choice for this shoot-out.

Completing our trio is the Vauxhall Astra.

It arrived fresh from hitting the top of the UK sales charts in December, so the 1.7-litre CDTI Exclusiv would be no pushover.

Volkswagen Golf Bluemotion - Eco-friendly yet fast and fun... green Golf remains a brilliant contender

The Golf is the most familiar face in this test, and for good reason. It’s our reigning class champ, and the car Ford’s engineers and executives will have in their sights with the new Focus.

The styling has evolved down the decades, and the Golf MkVI plays it safe – the Focus is bolder and the Astra is sleeker, but there’s no doubting the VW’s timeless appeal and classy image.

BlueMotion specification is identified by racier bumpers, unique alloys and gloss black grille slats. The small rims don’t really fill the wheelarches, but the eco model’s lowered suspension does the styling a few favours, as well as improving aerodynamics.

It’s standard VW fare inside, with a beautifully constructed dashboard that is clearly and intuitively laid out. The fit and finish are faultless, and there’s little to suggest this is an eco-tuned model, althoughour car’s multifunction leather steering wheel is a £445 option.

You get plenty of seat and wheel adjustment, so the driving position is good. And while the car in our pictures is a three-door model, interior space and practicality are another strong point for the five-door model on test here.

Sit behind the driver, and there’s barely any less space than in its longer rivals, with generous rear legroom and the most headroom on test. However, the Golf’s back seats are narrower than in the Ford and Astra, so it is the least comfortable choice if you need to squeeze three adults across the back.

The 350-litre boot is well proportioned, and while it doesn’t match the Astra’s 370-litre load space, it trumps the Ford and has a wide opening. But enough about the spec – hit the road and the first thing to strike you about the Golf is its refinement. While the Astra never lets you forget its diesel powertrain, the VW is smooth at idle and under acceleration.

In fact, its linear power delivery is extremely impressive.

At the track, it was the fastest car to complete the benchmark 0-60mph sprint, with a time of 10.7 seconds, although in-gear performance is compromised by the BlueMotion’s tall ratios, which are devised with economy, rather than pace, in mind. It isn’t as flexible as the more powerful Focus, and even trickling out of junctions in second gear can see the engine struggle. However, once you get used to this trait, the Golf is refreshingly simple to drive for such an economical car.

The lowered sports suspension is designed to boost efficiency, and affects comfort, as the BlueMotion doesn’t ride with the smoothness and fluency of ordinary models. If anything, though, it’s more compliant than the stiff set-up of the Focus Zetec at low speeds.

Up the pace and the VW trails – the Ford rides well at higher speeds and is more capable and enjoyable to drive. The Golf is safe and sure-footed, but doesn’t have the Focus’ dynamic polish or feedback.

While the major controls are well weighted, they all feel a bit more detached than in the blue oval model. However, in everyday driving, the differences are small, and the Golf is more capable and rewarding than the lacklustre Vauxhall.

Predictably, our BlueMotion test car really rams home its advantage when it comes to economy. As with the Ford, it has a gearshift indicator to help you drive more efficiently, but the VW also boasts revised engine management, regenerative braking, low-rolling-resistance tyres and lightweight alloys.

Its stop-start system also functions more readily than the Ford set-up, unfazed by the use of energy-sapping kit such as air-con. This results in CO2 emissions of less than 100g/km, making it exempt from road tax and London’s Congestion Charge. And it returned 42.4mpg on test – 4.7mpg more than the Ford.

Ford Focus 1.6 TDCi Zetec - Will all-new version raise bar in the family class again?

Welcome to the most important road test of 2011. The Ford Focus is one of the biggest hitters in the fiercely fought family car sector – and an all-new version is big news...

The outgoing car has suffered a torrid time in recent years, with a host of newer and more desirable rivals forcing it from the top of the class to mid-table obscurity. Now, the third generation is out to reverse the decline and put Ford back in front again.

Bosses have certainly left no stone unturned in the quest for class honours, as the newcomer promises to be sharper to drive, cheaper to run and more spacious than the car it replaces. Adding
to its appeal are the claims of stronger refinement and a host of hi-tech safety kit.

Initial impressions are good, as the designers have been bolder with the latest model’s looks. The nose incorporates the firm’s eye- catching trapezoid grille, while huge wraparound tail-lamps feature at the back. Some of the detailing is heavy-handed, though, and the Focus fails to recreate the styling success of the smaller Fiesta. It’s also worth noting that our test car’s classy 17-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels and fashionable privacy glass are a £525 option – standard Zetec models ride on 16-inch rims.

Climb aboard, and it’s clear that considerable effort has been put into the cabin. Look beyond the dashboard’s busy styling and garish red trim – a more sober silver finish will be standard on production cars – and you’ll find a very thoughtful layout.

The centre console has the same intuitive mobile phone-inspired controls for the stereo and £750 optional sat-nav as the Fiesta and C-MAX, while the clear instruments are backlit in blue.

A wide range of seat and steering wheel adjustment means you’ll have no trouble finding a comfortable driving position, and occupants in the rear get marginally more leg and shoulder room than they’ll find in the Golf. There’s also plenty of cubby space, courtesy of a large glovebox and deep door bins.

Refinement is also excellent, with road and wind noise kept to a minimum, even at high speeds. The standard kit count is generous, too, with a DAB radio and Bluetooth connection fitted to Zetec models as standard.

Despite Ford making bold claims about the quality of the newcomer’s cabin, too many of the Zetec’s plastics look and feel cheap for it to rival the VW’s premium ambience – a contrast to the flagship Focuses driven in Top Story. Open the steeply raked tailgate and there’s a well shaped but small 316-litre load bay – it trails the Astra’s by 54 litres.

The Focus claws back some ground at the test track, where its smooth 113bhp 1.6-litre TDCi put in a strong performance. An overboost facility hikes torque to 285Nm, and that helped the Ford power from 50-70mph in sixth in 10.7 seconds – a full 1.9 seconds faster than the Vauxhall.

A range of eco-friendly tweaks means it’s frugal, too, returning a respectable 37.7mpg in our hands. However, the stop-start system on our car worked only when energy-draining kit such
as the air-con was turned off.

As you’d expect, the Ford’s chassis shines the brightest. The electrically assisted steering is beautifully weighted and responds instantly, while the torque vectoring system ensures strong front-end grip. But it’s the poise and balance that really impress, allowing the car to flow through corners. Adding to its appeal are a precise gearshift and progressive brakes. Only the unyielding low-speed ride of the sporty Zetec disappoints.

This is a strong display, and the new Focus leaps from also-ran to class contender. But in such a closely fought segment, the limited boot space, stiff ride and unremarkable styling could cost it dearly.

Vauxhall Astra 1.7 CDTi Exclusiv - Top-selling family hatch scores on style, inside and out

For decades, Vauxhall has vied with Ford for family car supremacy. Last year, the Astra won the race, and was the UK’s second best-selling model. A total of 80,646 found homes; the outgoing Focus came third, with 2,842 fewer sold.

Visual appeal has always been a crucial part of this closely fought contest, and the latest Vauxhall has enjoyed an advantage here since its debut in 2009. But an all-new offering from the blue oval means the Astra is no longer the new kid on the block. It lacks the instantly recognisable solidity of the Golf and the boldness of the new Focus, so its smart design doesn’t stand out – although the interior leaves a more positive impression.

Material quality is a match for its rivals and the layout of the dash is less fussy than the busy Focus. Classy ambient lighting also provides a premium feel after dark. But the cabin isn’t perfect, as the multitude of small buttons on the centre console can be frustrating until you’re familiar with them.

The Exclusiv gains marks for its multifunction steering wheel and standard cruise control, but this is tempered by the downmarket feel of the rim. It is made of unappealing hard, cheap plastic.

Elsewhere, the steeply raked A-pillars cause nasty blind spots when cornering, and the handbrake is poorly sited. Higher-spec variants get an electronic parking brake, but the traditional lever fitted to S and Exclusiv models can pinch fingers against the raised gearlever surround as you release the brake.

Rear space is acceptable, with comparable legroom to the Golf, although headroom is tighter than in rivals. Load space is a plus point in this company, as the 370-litre boot is the biggest on test.

However, it has a small opening, and the rear seats don’t fold flat.

Up front, the driving position provides plenty of adjustment, but this doesn’t stop the Astra from being a disappointment on the open road. Although the steering is positive and precise, there’s a disconcerting lack of feedback through the rim.

Grip is plentiful, but the chassis cannot match the agility, responsiveness and poise of the Focus, and the Golf feels more composed. As a result, it rarely inspires the confidence or pure ‘drive me’ enthusiasm of its rivals.

It’s not all bad news, though, as the supple suspension delivers a comfortable ride and, aside from a fraction more wind noise than the Focus at motorway speeds, refinement is impressive. All of which conspires to make the engine’s coarseness a drag. The tried and tested 1.7-litre CDTI feels its age in this test, as it’s breathless and slow to rev.

The diesel’s 260Nm torque output is competitive, placing the Astra between the Golf and more powerful Focus, and in-gear performance is comparable to the Ford in third and fourth.

But it trails in higher ratios. The lighter Golf is faster from a standing start, yet longer gearing makes it slower than the Vauxhall at higher speeds. The Astra’s diesel also trails at the pumps, where it recorded the worst economy on test; a CO2 output of 119g/km also makes the CDTI the dirtiest of the trio.

Given that the Vauxhall is more expensive than the Focus, and can’t match the Golf’s image or low emissions, it has a fight on its hands in its perpetual battle for family hatch glory.

Author: Al
Source: Autolatest & AutoExpress



Test efectuat la: 24.01.2011 | 12:38 EET


Test efectuat la: 24.01.2011 | 12:38 EET

  GolfFocusAstra 2010
MOTOR/ENGINE ENGINEL4 DieselL4 Diesel L4 Diesel
DISPLACEMENT (cmc)159815601686
MAX POWER(hp/rpm)105/4400113/4500110/3800
WIDTH C(mm)1779-1814
MASS EMPTY (kg)1214-1500
PERFORMANTE V Max (km/h)190-181
0-100 km/h (secunde)11.3-12.7
Average Fuel Consumption (liters)3.8-5.0
PRET Without taxes (euro)---
With taxes (euro)18.626-23.120
CAROSERIE Inside Space898
Quality of materials1097
Standard Equipement886
Trunk Space9108
CONFORT Confort1098
Seats front/rear10/910/99/8
Air Conditioning Quality9107
DINAMICA Engine Rafinement8106
80-120 km/h9107
Fuel Consumption1088

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Ultimul test efectuat la: 27.03.2016 | 12:00 EET

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