Test BMW 128ti – Ford Focus ST – Volkswagen Golf GTI: which hot hatchback do you have the most fun with?

The BMW 128ti may be the very first sporty BMW with front-wheel drive, but with Mini the Germans have years of experience developing convincing sportsmen with only the power transmission at the front. Nevertheless, the 128ti must come from a very good house, to make it difficult for the Ford Focus ST on its specialty? And what makes the famous crowd favorite, the Volkswagen Golf GTI, where in all this sporting violence? In Auto Review number 7 you will find the entire test of this trio pocket rockets . As a warm-up for the test, we’ll tell you here which car performs best on our test track.

The BMW 128ti does not show the back of its tongue

The BMW 128ti is a pure sportsman. There are no adaptive shock absorbers, only the M Sport seats of the test car are an option. We have already told you that the engine of the BMW guarantees the most speed. That is already an advantage on the clocked round. And yes: again he records the fastest times. In fast corners, the BMW benefits a lot from its great grip, the stiff shock absorbers are clearly made for sporty work. You hardly feel the body tilt.

Yet from behind the 128ti sports steering wheel, not everything is hosanna: you miss feeling in the BMW. The steering and brakes are of the aloof kind, allowing your senses to naturally build in some margin as the cornering pace hits the limit. In every bend you have to feel what the car is going to do before you completely surrender to the qualities of the chassis – which the BMW certainly has to a large extent!

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The Ford Focus ST is laughing, screeching, roaring!

The Ford Focus ST has been our party favorite among hot hatchbacks for years. You can go wild with it, and you always know what’s in it for you. The test car is equipped with the Performance Pack, which consists of adaptive shock absorbers and four drive programs with launch control. However, a little electronic input in the shock absorption has no effect on the feedback. It is as good as ever in the Ford Focus ST.

Thanks to the mechanical differential lock and the razor-sharp steering, you dare to dive into every corner very quickly with the Focus ST. Due to the clearly noticeable influence of the engine power on the drive shafts, it is necessary to hold the sports steering wheel firmly, but that only increases the sporty fun. If you go over the line, the front wheels will quickly regain their grip if you briefly release the accelerator. You then feel the rear of the car take an easy-to-control step to the side.

The Volkswagen Golf GTI excels … in slowing down

The Volkswagen Golf GTI is very good at many things, but if you are looking for the most entertainment, fortunately there are two very good alternatives. Although the Golf GTI is definitely a fast car, and it holds its grip for a long time in corners, the car does not involve you enough in its sporty escapades. As soon as the front wheels lose traction, they are braked by a brake intervention – causing you to lose even more speed.

The steering system of the Golf GTI cannot match that of its two competitors. In daily use, the Volkswagen probably meets all your requirements and wishes, but at times when all the brakes are allowed, the Golf points you to your responsibilities earlier. Safety before everything! We see this reflected in the braking test: he is a star in reducing speed and needs the shortest distance to come to a stop in the event of an emergency stop.


Really, the Golf GTI is a very nice car, but if you want to have fun, you better choose the BMW 128ti or the Ford Focus ST. They give you a grin on your face much sooner, in the Golf GTI your hands remain bone dry. But of course this is not the only part where we tested the three hot hatchbacks. Purchase Auto Review number 7 in our webshop and you have the complete test.

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