The clash of the family hatchbacks: Vauxhall Astra vs Ford Focus

Vauxhall Astra vs Ford Focus

The Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra are consistently two of Britain’s best-selling cars. Almost 50,000 Astras were sold in 2017, making it the sixth biggest-selling model in the UK; almost 70,000 sales put the Focus in third place, behind the Volkswagen Golf and the Focus’ sibling: the Ford Fiesta.

As reliable family hatchbacks, they’re often pitched against one another by customers looking to buy a vehicle to accommodate a young or growing family. So how do they compare? And should you go for one over the other? As with most things, it depends what you’re looking for. Here, we compare a used Ford Focus and a used Vauxhall Astra, both with 1.0-litre engines, to help you decide which is right for you.

Driving ability and performance

While both models have their strengths when it comes to performance, the Focus has the edge. AutoExpress called it “the best-driving car in the family hatchback class” in September 2018 and given Ford’s reputation for excellent dynamics, that’s no surprise. It offers a responsive drive and is agile through corners, while ample torque makes it flexible at higher speeds. The Focus is one of the cleanest hatchbacks on the market too, emitting just 108g/km of CO2.

The Astra is less brisk at lower speeds, generating just 104bhp in comparison to the Ford’s 123bhp, but get onto the motorway and it accelerates with similar energy to its rival. Its slightly softer suspension makes it a comfortable ride too, while composure is maintained well on twisty roads. In terms of emissions, it’s close to the Focus with 110g/km, but it’s a little more fuel efficient too, so if economy is important, choose the Astra.


Family hatchbacks need to combine space with comfort, and both models manage to do so effectively. Past variants of the Astra have sometimes left drivers wanting, but the most recent Vauxhall Astra review from Top Gear proves the later models have come on in leaps and bounds. Refinement has improved and there’s a more minimalist approach to the dash and centre console, with all the switches and buttons are intuitively placed. High-quality materials are present throughout, giving the Astra a cosy feel without the premium price tag.

The interior of the Ford Focus is intuitive too, but less modern and sleek in its feel. The front panel protrudes into the driver’s space more and while Ford owners will be used to this, those switching from another model may find it encroaches a little. Everything is within easy reach, however, and the cabin’s materials are soft yet durable, making them ideal for family use.

If boot space is a key requirement, the Astra comes out on top: it’s got 370 litres compared to the Focus’ 316 litres.


More recent versions of the Astra and Focus both incorporate a touch screen that gives you access to a host of features such as Bluetooth and multimedia. The amount of equipment you get naturally depends on the trim level you choose, but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are featured on later models. Choose any used Vauxhall Astra from 2015 and you’ll enjoy infotainment functions as well as cruise control and a speed limiter as standard, while the used Ford Focus doesn’t catch up until its 2016 models, so you’ll have to spend a little more to get the same tech.

Trim levels and engine choice

The Focus has a wider choice of engines than the Astra and an large number of variants, including the ST-Line and Vignale options. Many have their own stylistic tweaks and the levels of kit vary too, with high specs getting all the bells and whistles, from heated seats to dual-zone climate control. There’s also an RS version, which comes with four-wheel drive as well as a 2.3-litre turbopetrol engine if high performance comes above all else for you.

The Astra, while slimmer in terms of engine choice, has an astounding array of trim levels. Higher spec models come with all sorts of convenience features like ambient lighting and a navigation system. The sporty Astra GTC VXR is a speed demon’s dream, equipped with a 2.0-litre turbopetrol engine that sprints from 0-60mph in six seconds.

Verdict: Vauxhall Astra vs Ford Focus

There’s no denying that both a used Vauxhall Astra and used Ford Focus are smart options when you’re considering a family hatchback. Which you choose depends very much on what you’re looking for in a pre-owned car. If driving dynamics, overall performance and technology are at the top of your list, the Ford Focus is the model to choose. No other family hatch quite matches its sense of fun, its high built quality and reliability through thousands of miles.

If, however, comfort and practicality are key for you, the Astra is the best choice. With its comfy ride, larger boot and intuitive setup, it ensures that every journey is effortless. There’s a wider range of variants to choose from too, meaning that finding the perfect option on the used car market is relatively simple. For the price, it offers exceptionally good value.

If you’re still deciding between the Focus and the Astra, why not visit Carwise Group and test drive them to draw your own conclusions? With a huge range of used cars for sale in Kent and Essex, we regularly have several versions of each model in stock, meaning you can easily compare them. What’s more, if the variant you’re looking for isn’t in the listings at your local dealership, we can source it for you.

Browse our stock today to find your ideal model or contact our showrooms in Maidstone and Harlow to book a test drive. Our friendly sales advisors will be happy to help.