New Toyota Corolla vs Ford Focus vs Volkswagen Golf

Which type of engine makes most sense in a modern family car? We’ve pitted the new hybrid Toyota Corolla against petrol and diesel rivals to provide the answer...

Ford Focus rear seats

Space and practicality

Front space, rear space, seating flexibility, boot

All three cars have enough room to accommodate tall adults in the front. It’s in the rear of the Corolla that those more than six feet tall – sitting behind someone of a similar height up front – will feel let down. Not only does it provide the least leg and head room, but the close proximity of the bottom of the front seats to your legs also wedges your feet in tight, making it the most difficult to get in and out of. It’s also the worst for claustrophobes, due to the contoured nature of its rooflining, which hems you in at the front and side.

Toyota Corolla rear seats

The Golf has more leg room than the Corolla (although not by much) and the most head room, so it’s far airier. There’s still enough head room in the Focus, though, and its rear is the best in every other respect, with class-leading leg room, the most room for feet, the best space for a middle passenger and the lowest central tunnel for them to straddle.

Volkswagen Golf rear seats

Moving to the boots, the Focus and Corolla both manage to fit six carry-on suitcases. The Corolla has the most space to spare, though, despite its boot’s slightly awkward shape. The Golf can hold five cases, but if you raise its standard height-adjustable boot floor (a £75 option for the Focus but unavailable in the Corolla), it has the shallowest load lip. 

Each car gets 60/40-split folding rear seats, and when these are folded down, the Golf’s boot floor can be positioned to create a flat extended load bay. In the others, you’re left with an awkward step.

Ford Focus

Ford Focus boot

The Focus’s boot can swallow six carry-on cases at a squeeze. It’s worth paying £75 to add the height-adjustable floor. Like the others, it gets 60/40-split folding seats.

Boot 375-1354 litres Suitcases 6

Toyota Corolla

Toyota Corolla boot

Despite having the least regular shape and the highest lip, the Corolla’s boot matches the Focus’s suitcase tally with more room to spare. You can’t have an adjustable floor.

Boot 361-1052 litres Suitcases 6

Volkswagen Golf

Volkswagen Golf boot

The Golf’s boot is the smallest, but its standard height-adjustable floor offers the greatest versatility and, when raised, removes the step the others suffer when their rear seats are down.

Boot 380-1270 litres Suitcases 5

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