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Can The Blue Oval Bad Boy Dethrone The Hot Hatch King?

About three years ago to the day, fellow Senior Editor Seyth Miersma and I – during our respective tenures as editors at Winding Road – met on a cold, wet autumn morning to put the then-new sixth-generation Volkswagen GTI up against a slew of hot hatches for a comparison test cover story. Miersma and I share a love for this type of car, simply because they're affordable little runabouts that don't skimp on functionality while being hysterically fun to toss about. Actually, you'd be hard pressed to find a single member of the automotive media that doesn't hold at least one of these little rascals close to their heart.



The hot hatch hierarchy has long been capped with the GTI as king, and for good reason. Of all the vehicles offered in the segment, it has perhaps the best blend of the many facets we love about these cars, and it's the one that we'd absolutely open our wallets for year after year, generation after generation. So when a new kid comes to town, it doesn't completely matter how it stacks up against other competitors in the segment – if you want to dethrone the king, you have to beat the GTI at the very game it created.

Enter the 2013 Ford Focus ST, a car that Ford says will run circles around every other hot hatch available in the United States. The Blue Oval is out for blood with this one, and for good reason. After our first experience with the car overseas, we must admit, it's damn good.

So on yet another cold autumn morning, I found myself sitting behind the wheel of the brand-new Focus ST, following Miersma in the GTI out to the same roads we've flogged hot hatches down in the past. History indeed has a way of repeating itself, but with the potent little Ford now in its class, does the GTI still hold onto its crown?

click/read more: autoblog.com/2012/11/20/2013-ford-focus-st-vs-2012-volkswagen-gti-comparison-review/


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Much as I love to see Ford jump up and down on the hearts of the "Vroom Vroom Party Starter" crowd, this isn't a fair fight, and the article admits it. I'll wait for the Gen 7 GTI...at which point I assume the stars will re-align and the mere sight of a VW logo wins every comparison ever written. ;)
 

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That sums up rather well what I feel about the ST. I'm not a big fan on the external appearance, the interior is somewhat busy, but it sure does drive nice with reasonable power. The GTI was a great car in the past but generation after generation getting heavier and more loaded with equipment and cost have not done any favors to the car, especially when driving dynamics haven't remained a priority. They're quick, comfortable, nice looking but an understeering mess that isn't extremely fun to toss around in stock form. I've almost had more fun wringing out some of the underpowered European Golf diesel models I drove while living over there. They were nowhere near as sporting and didn't handle anywhere near as well as the GTI but had a fun character when thrashing about in a slow car kind of way.
 

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I really don't get all the love for the GTI exterior / interior. I mean sure it's fine if you like a boxy look, kind of like a breadbox and the inside is no better than the ST to me. Honestly I have preferred the styling of the ST from the first moment, but I guess there is no accounting for taste.
The rest is pretty obvious, but a good read anyway.
 

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I like the I interior of the VW better than exterior. What irks me, and C&D did this too, is compare an ST2 to the base 2 door GTI then gave the GTI points for price. Either get an ST1 vs base 4 door GTI. Or do fully loaded vs fully loaded. And when you compare 4 doors the weight difference is just a little over 100 lbs vs more like 200.


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I will agree the ergonomics in the VWs are excellent. I had a MKV Rabbit previously.


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Good read, as always.

Too many subjective points about the "looks" of the cars. A white VW GTI which is more conservative in styling and a Tangerine Scream ST which is more dynamic in styling. How about a White ST, or some bright colored GTI? These cars both look very different in their various color combo's.

Looking forward to a full-on comparison of the next generation GTI, an MS3, WRX, and ST. That would be fun.
 

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It's hard to take anyone praising the looks of the GTI seriously when they don't even mention its wearing The World's Ugliest Wheels.
 

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I prefer the ST interior by far. The GTI interior felt...old fashioned to me. And I really don't like the boxy GTI exterior either. I also agree the long throw and forward placement of the stick conspire to make it harder for quick wheel to shift movement.

Also, VW knew for a long time this car was coming. They could have upgraded the GTI. They chose not to. The message is, for the next year or so, anyone who buys a new GTI over an ST will be getting the lesser car. In the meantime, people who wait for the MK VII won't be driving their faster, better handling and more comfortable and better-equipped-than-a-current-GTI ST for a whole year.
 

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It's hard to take anyone praising the looks of the GTI seriously when they don't even mention its wearing The World's Ugliest Wheels.
The base Detroit wheels I like.

But if you're dumb enough to not go one package up for these beauties, you're an idiot regardless.



- Drew
 
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