New Volkswagen Golf and Seat Leon vs Ford Focus: costs

We pit the all-new Volkswagen Golf and Seat Leon against the big-selling Ford Focus to see which is the best family hatchback on sale today...

2020 Volkswagen Golf side action

Buying and owning

Costs, equipment, reliability, safety and security

The Golf has always straddled the price gap between the really posh family hatches (think Audi A3, BMW 1 Series and Mercedes A-Class) and more mainstream alternatives like those it’s lined up against here. And that, at least when it comes to up-front costs, remains the status quo.

But consider long-term ownership costs and it’s a different picture. Indeed, the Golf’s slow predicted depreciation is one of the main reasons why it’s likely to cost private cash buyers the least in the long run. Excellent real-world fuel economy is another, with the Golf averaging 49mpg in our tests. Unsurprisingly, the more powerful Leon wasn’t as thrifty but still managed a respectable 44.9mpg, which makes the 44.1mpg achieved by the Focus look a bit mediocre. However, it’s important to remember that, if you place a factory order for a new Focus, you’ll get that mild hybrid system to help reduce its thirst.

2020 Seat Leon side action

In fact, the hybrid Focus’s low CO2 emissions actually make it the cheapest to run as a company car. If you’re in the 40% tax bracket, you’ll have to sacrifice £233 of your salary every month to have one on your driveway – a tenner less than you’ll pay for the Golf and £21 less than the Leon costs.

If you’re taking out a PCP finance agreement, the Focus will cost you the least in monthly repayments, too. Put down a £2500 deposit and over the next three years (assuming an annual mileage of 10,000), you’ll have to fork out £320 a month, compared with £332 for the Golf and £361 for the Leon. Be aware, though, that if you decided to buy the Golf at the end of that period, you’d be faced with a much larger final ‘balloon’ payment than with the other two.

All three cars come handsomely equipped, with 17in alloys, climate control (front only in the Focus, front and rear in the Golf and Leon), keyless start and ambient interior lighting. The Focus and Leon add power-folding door mirrors, but the Focus alone gets keyless entry and a heated windscreen, steering wheel and front seats. Mind you, the Leon is the only one with metallic paint as standard, while the Golf comes with adaptive cruise control.

2020 Ford Focus side action

As for safety, all three come with automatic emergency braking (AEB) and lane-keeping assistance. They all get LED headlights, too, although the Focus’s can’t dip automatically to avoid dazzling oncoming drivers. At the time of writing, Euro NCAP hadn’t appraised the Leon for crash safety. However, the Focus scored slightly better than the Golf for keeping adult occupants safe in a crash, with both cars awarded identical marks for child crash protection. The Focus was found to be slightly more hazardous to pedestrians, though, and its AEB system wasn’t as good at picking up cyclists.

The Leon and Golf are too new to have featured in the most recent What Car? Reliability Survey, but the Focus ranked a lowly 27th out of 31 models in its class

Used alternative

2019 Mercedes A-Class

2019 Mercedes A-Class

For the same money as any of the cars in this test, you could put a one-year-old Mercedes A-Class on your driveway, in petrol-powered A250 AMG Line trim. What you’ll get is a car that’s not only fast, comfortable and good to drive but also features one of the most dazzling and high-tech interiors in the family car class. It comes with a whole host of welcome safety features, too.

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