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...

New Toyota Corolla vs Ford Focus vs Volkswagen Golf

Our verdict

Big shock: it turns out that the least frugal contender makes the best company car. Why? Well, factor in not just CO2 emissions but also P11D price and it turns out the Golf is the most tax efficient. Plus, it’s the cheapest option if you lease or receive a company car allowance. But this test also proves something else: that the Golf remains a very compelling all-rounder.

Similarly, the new Corolla is one of the best hybrids yet – not just an efficient mode of transport but a very good car in general. Unfortunately, its high P11D price reduces the tax advantages and it’s well beaten on rear seat space and infotainment. 

The Focus comes last because it incurs the most BIK tax, has the cheapest-feeling interior and rides the least comfortably. But it’s still a fine choice if you want great handling and are happy to pay a little extra tax for the privilege. Plus, its diesel engine will save you on fuel if you do a lot of motorway miles.

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1st – Volkswagen Golf - 4 stars

Volkswagen Golf rear

For Cheapest BIK tax; supple ride; best infotainment; willing engine; cheapest to finance and lease 

Against Smallest boot; least safety kit; worst average fuel economy

Recommended options Rear-view camera (£340), Winter Pack (£400), Active Info Display (£495)

Read our full Volkswagen Golf review

Find a great Volkswagen Golf deal


2nd – Toyota Corolla - 4 stars

Toyota Corolla rear

For Most efficient; comfortable ride at high speeds; Toyota’s excellent reliability record; good safety kit 

Against Slowest; rev-happy CVT gearbox; tightest rear space; poor infotainment

Recommended options Metallic paint (£545)

Read our full Toyota Corolla review

Find a great Toyota Corolla deal


3rd – Ford Focus - 4 stars

Ford Focus rear

For Sharpest handling; strong engine; quietest cruiser; best driving position; good safety rating 

Against Firmest ride; least kit; low-rent interior; most expensive BIK tax

Recommended options Parking sensors (£375), height-adjustable boot floor (£75)

Read our full Ford Focus review

Find a great Ford Focus deal


Specifications: Ford Focus 1.5 Ecoblue 120 ST-Line

  • Engine size 4cyl, 1499cc, diesel
  • List price £22,850
  • Target Price £20,983
  • Power 118bhp @ 3600rpm
  • Torque 221lb ft @ 1750-2250rpm
  • Gearbox 6-spd manual
  • 0-60mph 9.4sec
  • Top speed 122mph
  • Gov't fuel economy 61.4mpg
  • Test MPG 53.0mpg 
  • CO2 emissions 93g/km

Specifications: Toyota Corolla 1.8 VVT-i Hybrid Icon Tech

  • Engine size 4cyl, 1798cc, petrol + electric motor
  • List price £24,800
  • Target Price £24,152
  • Power 120bhp (combined)
  • Torque 105lb ft @ 3600rpm (engine only)
  • Gearbox CVT automatic
  • 0-60mph 11.2sec
  • Top speed 112mph
  • Gov't fuel economy 63.2mpg
  • Test MPG 60.6mpg
  • CO2 emissions 76g/km

Specifications: Volkswagen Golf 1.0TSI 115 Match 5dr

  • Engine size 3cyl, 999c, turbo, petrol
  • List price £21,200
  • Target Price £19,469
  • Power 113bhp @ 5000-5500rpm
  • Torque 148lb ft @ 2000-3500rpm
  • Gearbox 6-spd manual
  • 0-60mph 9.8sec
  • Top speed 123mph
  • Gov't fuel economy 49.9mpg
  • Test MPG 46.5mph
  • CO2 emissions 109g/km

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