Subaru WRX vs. Ford Focus ST & VW Golf

Performance Sports Cars: Subaru WRX Finishes First in Los Angeles

The Subaru WRX sedan and the Ford Focus ST both break from the traditional concept of a high performance sports car. Subaru, for one, is well regarded for its all-weather and all-road-conditions capability, while the Ford Focus is known as a mass market "world" car, albeit a very good one. In reality, Subaru's WRX is a high performance sports sedan inspired by rally car competition, while the Ford Focus ST is a hot hatchback that will leave many more pedestrian automobiles in the dust. So how do the two compare, aside from the obvious design distinction of one being a sedan and the other a five-door hatchback?  We're here to tell you more...

Known for its everyday efficiency, the Honda Civic has been a mainstay on the City of Industry roads. But how does it stack up to the Subaru WRX? While it provides a consistent ride for an every day sedan, its power and performance leave much to be desired when compared to the WRX. Learn more about the Subaru WRX and Honda Civic below...

An American automotive icon for decades, the Ford Mustang is no stranger to Los Angeles. And neither is the Subaru WRX. Both vehicles are built for performance, and designed for the thrill. How does the Mustang compare to the WRX? Find out from our Subaru WRX and Ford Mustang comparison...

The Mazda3 boasts an intuitive design and cutting edge engine and performance technology. While it certainly looks impressive, drivers quickly find out that power is lacking. Especially when compared to the Subaru WRX. How else does the Mazda3 stack up to the Subaru WRX? Explore our Subaru WRX and Mazda3 comparison...

The Subaru WRX and the Volkswagen Golf are the two of the most fun and accessible high performance "sport cars" on the market - particularly at a price tag under $40,000. If you enjoy driving in all weather and road conditions though, only the Subaru WRX offers all-wheel drive - standard. The extra traction afforded through Subaru's vaunted symmetrical all-wheel drive system provides invaluable grip on slick streets and around tight and twisty corners. How else do the WRX and the Golf compare?  Scroll to read our comparison...

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Performance

  • The Ford Focus ST has a 2.0-liter turbocharged EcoBoost inline-4 engine that makes 252 horsepower. The Subaru WRX has a 2.0-liter turbocharged flat-4 that makes 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. In both cases, the engines are paired with a six-speed manual transmission. However, the Subaru WRX also offers a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that makes the sedan accessible to all drivers, not just those handy with a stick shift.  
  • Volkswagen's Golf GTI has a similar engine - the 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 - but not quite as much power, making 210 horsepower. The Subaru WRX gets a 268 horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbo connected to either a 6-speed manual or an available continuously variable automatic transmission. Yes, a CVT isn't an intuitive first choice for performance drivers, but it works extremely well in the WRX. 
  • In terms of power, the Subaru WRX is simply in another world than the Honda Civic. The WRX boasts 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Standard. The Civic only gives you 158 standard horsepower and 138 pound-feet of standard torque. Even when you bring it up to the top trim levels and options, the WRX still supplies 125 more horsepower and 127 more pound-feet of torque than the highest level of the Civic.
  • Performance is great, but what about efficient performance? The Subaru WRX has it there, with a better city fuel efficiency rating of 20 mpg, compared the Ford Mustang's 18 mpg city. And with a smaller fuel tank, the WRX can go further for less. At the top engine options, the discrepancy becomes even larger, with the WRX having better city and highway fuel economy than the Mustang.
  • Let's talk power. The Mazda3 offers 155 standard horsepower and 150 pound-feet of standard torque. How does that compare to the Subaru WRX? Not well. The WRX packs 268 standard horsepower and 258 pound-feet of standard torque. Even with upgraded engines on higher trims, the Mazda3 still only gives you up to 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque. The WRX cranks out up to 305 horsepower and 290 pound-feet of torque.
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    Handling

  • Between the Ford Focus and the WRX, only the WRX has symmetrical all-wheel drive (AWD) - and did we mention AWD is standard? Subaru's more sophisticated system is incredibly grippy on slick or snowy roads and around tight turns and responds more quickly to a loss of traction. 
  • The standard AWD in the WRX is again a competitive advantage here over the VW Golf, giving the Subaru remarkable traction in all driving conditions.
  • Standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive in the Subaru WRX, or base front-wheel drive in the Honda Civic? The clear choice for superior handling is the WRX.
  • The Ford Mustang is known for its performance and handling, and its standard rear wheel drive certainly adds to the allure. But the standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive in the Subaru WRX adds a level of handling not many vehicles touch.
  • Have we mentioned that the Subaru WRX comes with standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive? Because the Mazda3 only offers front wheel drive. Prepare for more capable handling in the WRX.
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    Safety

  • Both the Subaru WRX and the Focus ST offer their own versions of pre-collision warning and braking, adaptive cruise control, blind spot detection and lane departure warning.  This includes "rear cross traffic alert" (uses rear-facing radar to detect vehicles approaching from either side - e.g., when backing out of a parking space) and "pre-collision throttle management" (senses the presence of obstacles in front of the vehicle and will reduce available power to lessen or potentially avoid a collision).
  • Both the WRX and the VW Golf offer these features as well.  Again, the WRX exclusive "rear cross traffic alert" beats out the available safety features the Golf offers.
  • Everyone could use an extra set of eyes, and the Subaru WRX offers it with Blind-Spot Detection and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert. Think the Honda Civic will keep an eye on your blind spot for you? Think again.
  • Visibility is key, and that's why the Subaru WRX provides standard daytime running lights. You won't find those on the Ford Mustang. The WRX also features LED Steering Responsive Headlights and Blind-Spot Detection, neither of which are available on the Mustang.
  • The Subaru WRX and Mazda3 are close to even in terms of safety, including a plethora of advanced safety features. With that said, the WRX still lands a higher safety score from U.S. News & World Report.
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    Styling

  • The Ford Focus ST is a sharp, fast-looking hatchback that just looks ready to jump off the mark. The Subaru WRX has a distinctive look as well, with its scalloped hood intake, flared front and rear fenders and narrow windshield pillars that provide great visibility and better high-speed maneuverability. The Focus ST's interior is a touch more upscale in terms of materials, and Ford's new Sync 3 infotainment system has received great reviews, but the WRX's "sport seats" use high-grip fabric and aggressive leg and side bolstering to help keep the driver firmly in place.
  • The Volkswagen Golf GTI has a utilitarian look that appeals to some, yet the overall boxy design just doesn't showcase the speed and capability of the vehicle like the Subaru WRX does.  Again, the WRX simply looks fast with its swept back lights and side body curvature.  
  • In terms of styling, there's no contest. The exterior design of the Subaru WRX is a crafted dream of aerodynamics, and the inside is inspired by the racetrack. The Honda Civic, on the other hand, while stylish for a sedan, is exactly that... only a sedan.
  • The Ford Mustang is one of the most iconic vehicles on the American roads. So how does the Subaru WRX styling compare? The WRX features a tighter, more aerodynamic exterior design that uniquely showcases is nimbleness.
  • The Mazda3 presents a bold and rounded design, allowing it to blend in on most roads. But shouldn't the goal be to stand out? The Subaru WRX does just that, with its strong and aerodynamic lines that are clearly meant for the track.
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