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Ford Focus vs Vauxhall Astra – Which is Better?

The Ford Focus and the Vauxhall Astra have been considered rivals for over two decades now, with the two cars among the most popular on UK roads. With both cars classified as compact family hatchbacks, many drivers could be fooled into thinking they’re almost the same. However, the true distinction lies in the finer details, as we’ll explore in this post.

Brand history

Ford is one of the most notable brands in the automotive industry. They’re a household name, with a number of instantly recognisable models familiar to drivers across the world. The Ford Focus has been around since 1998, undergoing plenty of facelifts along the way.

Vauxhall is similarly renowned in the UK, but perhaps not so much abroad. For one, because it’s branded as Opel in Europe and further afield. The first models of the Vauxhall Astra were launched in the UK way back in 1979, and – similar to the Focus – have become a popular car for new drivers and seasoned pros alike.

Popularity

Since its arrival (as a replacement to the popular Escort model), the Focus has been going head-to-head year upon year with the Astra. Sales figures suggest that the Focus reigned champion for most of the fight, with Astra usually being the second-best selling car by a small margin. Either way, both cars are firmly set as the two top-selling cars in Britain for the last 18 years.

Performance

Astra models also have variance, but they have systematically changed to a mid-sized engine range throughout. Choices range from a 1.2-litre petrol turbo to a 1.5-liter diesel turbo option.

The Focus might be more performance-based, but it still offers a variety of engine choices to cater for all needs. From a 1.0-litre turbocharged inline three to a 2.3-litre turbocharged inline four, Ford aims to please with its hatchback offering. At first glance this looks like worlds apart, but the influence on performance is directed toward driver experience and fuel economy.

When it comes to high-performance it is the Focus that delivers the thrills with a Focus ST that delivers an alarming 280 bhp. Given that Vauxhall’s high-performance counterpart, the Astra VXR, is no longer available, the Focus is definitely the best option when it comes to speed. It’s unchanged in design, with the option of a sport pack conversion plus launch control and sleek sport design to boot.

Design

Both models have a sleek and modern exterior design. Ford have taken great care to trim away excess curves to cut excess weight on the Ford. Vauxhall has kept to what has worked well for them with a simple and chic interior design, with Ford also remaining true to a sportier finish inside.

One of the key differences here is the focus on families. Where the Astra opted for a smaller and tighter appearance for the sake of a more economic adaptation of city-driving, the Focus has put more onus on the family-driving experience, while still catering for regular city traffic. One is made for zippy driving in peak traffic and the other is for comfortable driving with the kids in the back.

Practicality

The Astra has a Sports Tourer in the estate family range, while the Focus has the 2.0-litre Estate. This makes both brands a great purchase for families who often take to the road.

In the compact range, both models come out with ISOFIX brackets for car seats, but they do not have the same luggage size. The Astra has 317 litres of baggage space in the rear, while the Focus lets you pack in up to 362 litres.

Availability

With the Vauxhall brand exclusively used in the UK, they are readily available and a firm favourite among locals. However, since Opel Vauxhall has been sold to the Peugeot group in 2017, UK production of the much-loved Astra will actually be discontinued in 2020. Fortunately, Groupe PSA has since announced that it will continue Astra production at two plants in Europe.

Since the Ford Focus has been one of the best-selling cars across Britain for much of the last two decades, it gives one peace of mind that availability will not be a problem in the foreseeable future.

Safety

Looking at modern cars and considering how far we have come with regards to car safety, this is still one of the more important aspects to consider when buying a car. Fortunately, in this class, great care is taken to ensure that the most current safety features are present.

Ford and Vauxhall both have a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating for crash tests. Vauxhall has also brought in a forward collision alert and lane keep assist to help you from drifting out of your lane. Ford’s cyclist detection is a great way of incorporating smart technology. Not only does it protect cyclists, but it also saves you those unnecessary bumps and scrapes to your car

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