Welcome to a traffic light stop face-off between two hot hatchbacks, the popular 2001 1.8 Litre petrol Golf Mk4 and the Ford Focus. VW Golf Mk4 is part of a lineup of models from Golf I to the current Golf VII. VW released the Golf Mk4 in two body versions the three door and four door .
The Golf model could arguably be the best selling VW, next to the ancient Beetle. Ford Focus took over from where the legendary Escort stopped in 1998.
Both VW Golf and Ford Focus hatchbacks were built to target young successful professionals who wanted to drive decent sporty vehicles. On the Ugandan used car market we have two popular choices, the 1.8 litre (non turbo) Golf IV and Ford Focus. Let us see which one “throws a heavier punch.”
The traffic lights turn green ... the Golf IV and its rival Ford Focus speed off. As they gain momentum, the Golf’s front inches away to establish the fact that it is 0.4 micro seconds faster than the Focus despite having a slightly smaller engine. VW Golf IV’s Bosch motronic AGN engine may not be as fast and exciting as its turbo charged twin engine AUQ, but it leaves the Focus “panting” hot on its heels. The VW Golf IV has a longer engine stroke and four more engine valves than the Focus. This allows the Golf low engine strong low down torque (at low engine revolution curve) to enjoy better acceleration.
Ford Focus’ Zetec engine “fights” back with bigger cylinder bores to produce sufficient power with lower engine power revolution curves. This coupled with Focus’ lower coefficient of drag ensure that it is slightly more economical on fuel.
The Golf is the more talented handler. It harnesses its greater engine power, steering and brake electronics (steering angle sensor, Anti-lock brakes, ABS and electronic stability programme ESP) to provide superb response to corner stress on Ugandan highways. Golf’s Front suspension Independent McPherson struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar and rear suspension multilink with coil springs and anti-roll bar give it a firm grip of the road in tight corners and sudden manoeuvres such as overtaking, swerving and braking.
Focus makes a spirited challenge by staying firm on the road at moderate speeds due to its front McPherson struts, coil springs and lower wishbone as well as rear De Dion axle and anti-roll bar suspension.
However, at higher speeds the Focus’ higher centre of gravity give it more sway or body roll in tight corners compared to the Golf IV. Off the tarmac or driving over humps, Focus has an edge over Golf because of its higher ground clearance which prevents damaging of the lower under ride. One has to be careful not to damage the Golf IV engine oil sump.
STYLE, DESIGN & COMFORT
The designers of the Golf Mk4 and Focus made an excellent blend of brand tradition and new style. Golf Mk4 develops the traditional bulging compact oval shape into a sportier aerodynamic, one with a better headlight and front grille layout. Golf Mk4 is sleek from headlight to tail gate. Ford Focus has attractive round contours mixed with geometrical lines. It comes with sharper looks than the Escort, thanks to the contoured front grille, bumper and headlights with integrated indicators.
The “tear drop” shaped windows, head light and tail light corners pronounce the name Focus. Both cars offer excellent value for money in the comfort and safety department. There are no “bells and whistles” but the basics provided fit the bill. You have a CD player, air conditioning, electric windows and mirrors, remote keyless entry and immobiliser alarm, anti-lock brakes, side impact protection and supplementary restraint airbags. There is ample loading space, head and leg room.
RELIABILITY & RESALE VALUE
VW and Ford build strong and reliable cars. However, the maintenance record and condition you inherit on a used Golf Mk4 or Focus and your own maintenance regime will determine whether you will enjoy these cars or not. Both cars should be regularly maintained with the highest standard of engine oil and service parts. VW and Ford recommend 5W 30 or 5W40 grade engine oil which is available locally in the fully synthetic options.
The narrow oil passages in the lubrication system need oil that maintains a high viscosity index over long periods, prevents metal sheer and sludge build up. The service parts situation is easier for the VW Golf which has multiple new and used parts dealers. Ford Focus being a “new comer” has one or two unreliable parts outlets. Golf Mk4 has a better resale value because of the Ford parts situation.
Golf Mk4 wins the race after bagging four points for better engine power, good handling, good design and comfort features as well as better reliability and resale value. It loses a point for its lower ground clearance. Focus takes second place with three points for better fuel economy, reasonable handling and good design and comfort features.
the weighing scale
VW golf mk4 1.8l Ford focus 1.8l
Year of manufacture 2001 2001
Engine size cubic capacity: 1,781 L4 DOHC 20V 1,796 L4 DOHC 16V
Engine power: 92KW @ 6,000 rpm 85KW @ 5,500 rpm
Engine torque: 170Nm @ 4,200 rpm 160Nm @4,400 rpm
Accerelation 0-100kph: 9.9 seconds 10.3 seconds
Fuel economy (highway): 15.87 km / Litre 16.6 km / Litre
Length (mm) : 4,150 4,171
Width (mm) : 1,740 1,699
Height (mm) : 1,440 1,430
Ground clearance (mm): 122 170
Coefficient of drag : 0.31 0.30
Cost price for used : Shs20m Shs20m
Resale value locally: Shs12m Shs6m
Star rating: ** ** ***