By on May 16, 2017

Volkswagen Golf R vs Ford Focus RS

You know what I miss? Besides the second season of Miami Vice, the Atari 800, and a country where grown men didn’t agree to appear in simpering photography sessions commemorating their emasculating engagements to former late-night legends of the Sig Ep house at Ohio State? I miss the days when automakers didn’t field an entry into every single possible automotive segment. I miss that halcyon period where Mercedes-Benz made sedans and Porsche made sports cars and never the twain needed to meet except in the destination garages of their superbly tasteful owners. Back when everybody stuck to their individual knitting, the products were better (for their time, of course) and the brand identities made more sense. I’m reminded of something that my musical idol and harshest critic, Victor Wooten, once said: “Instead of learning other instruments … I take the time that I would spend learning those instruments … and I put that time into learning my instrument, you dig?”

As my future third-wife Este once sang, however, those days are gone. In $THE_CURRENT_YEAR, nearly every manufacturer competes in nearly every segment. Which brings me to this week’s question, submitted by an extremely verbose fellow who needs to choose a German hatchback.


Joshua writes,

I have a ’11 Hyundai Genesis Coupe (R-spec, 3.8), and it doesn’t really meet my mission profile anymore. I find myself fairly often going up to the mountains from the San Francisco Bay Area during the winter — about 250 miles each way — and occasionally requiring either four-wheel-drive or chains to appease the CalTrans authorities.

The question, then: What to replace it with? I think the answer is either a Focus RS, or a Golf R — one, because both cars are quick enough to feel like I’m not sacrificing much, but two, because they both have enough of a four-wheel-drive system to shut CalTrans up. The RS seems like the underdog: fuel economy is bad, which in itself isn’t a problem (it’s comparable to the Genesis), but the fact that the tank is smaller than a mouse’s bladder is an issue as it means that the car’s range is crap. Reports are that the two settings of the suspension are “rough” and “unbearable except on micro-polished glass,” but I have little basis for comparison to, say, the Genesis. At the end of the day, it’s a $40,000 Focus, with the same mediocre plasticky interior as a $16,775 base model. The wing is kind of objectionable — I certainly would prefer understated to overstated — but I bet the appearance problem gets a little less bad with a roof rack for skis.

And it seems like the R is everything that the RS isn’t: Where the RS is rough and boy-racer, the R is the civilized one of the pair. The R’s DCC will take you down to a silky smooth ride; the car can be optioned out with all sorts of modern amenities, including ADAS features like radar-guided cruise control and automatic emergency braking. The car has a polished appearance inside. But as overwhelmingly exciting as the RS is, I fear the R might be overly sedate. If the R’s gear-shift is anything like the GTI’s (and surely I’d get it in a 3-pedal), it’ll feel disconnected, and there’s nothing viscerally compelling about banging out a perfect shift. People describe the R as a warmed-over GTI, rather than the kind of step function between the ST and RS.

Is the RS as unreasonable as a daily driver as I make it out to be? Is the R too no-fun-squad to bring any excitement to my daily commute? Am I missing an option in here somewhere?

As they used to say on the television, the above question was edited for length. Which is sad, because Joshua had some funny things to say. But we need to focus, pun intended, on the primary question. Super-Focus or Super-Golf?

Let’s start with the Ford. I spent a very long weekend with it late last year. It’s a brilliant automobile. Not as light as it should be, and therefore not as fast as it should be, but it exudes the sort of specialness that used to be the exclusive province of top-notch sports cars.

I’m not embarrassed to admit that after writing the above paragraph, I had to pause for a few moments to remember whether or not I’ve driven the Golf R. Then I checked my email. Then I Googled my name and “Golf R” together. The newest Golf R test I can find with my name on it is five years old. So I guess I haven’t driven it. Sorry about that. Truth be told, I gave up on the Golf R a long time ago, back when it was called R32. The GTI has always been a better way to spend less money. The Golf R is like the Apple 3 (written Apple /// way back when) in that it offers a completely unnecessary super-deluxe version of an experience that does not in any way benefit from the super-deluxing. Go get a GTI, dude.

Except for one thing: the GTI does not have AWD. So we are back to Golf vs. Focus. The Golf is faster; the Focus probably handles better. The Golf is more upscale; the Focus has far more street cred. The Golf can be had cheap now; the Focus will command insane resale value later. My money would be on the Focus RS every day and twice on Sunday because I will always err on the side of outrageous charisma.

Truth be told, though, I wouldn’t personally buy either car. I’d stick with my Accord V6, which is far cheaper and can hang with the German hatches in any test of acceleration that starts above 30mph. Or I’d buy a BMW 230i, which is far more fun to drive if you spec it right and doesn’t cost any more money. Then I’d buy the requisite chains or snow tires to appease Ponch and John when necessary. Hell, the Mustang GT smokes ’em all for thirty-five grand out the door.

If we take Joshua’s requirements for Autobahn cred and AWD as immutable, however, I’d then like to suggest a dark horse candidate. The Mercedes-Benz CLA45 is a natural product of the above-mentioned invasive-segment strategy. It’s about twenty-five percent more expensive and it only comes with two pedals, but against those crimes it offers the virtues of solid resale value and 12-second quarter-mile times. Plus it’s an AMG Benz. Everybody should have at least one AMG Benz before they die. There is something special about them, even when they are front-wheel-drive platforms that look like funhouse-mirror takes on Ray Donovan’s daily driver.

If all else is equal, or nearly so, why not have the pleasure of saying “my AMG” instead of “my Focus” or “my Golf”? The automotive cognoscenti might be well aware that the all-encompassing strategies of the German automakers have severely eroded the separation of privileges between the People’s Car and the Fuhrer’s Whip, but your Tinder date won’t have gotten that memo yet. Go AMG, young man! And don’t look back; a Mustang GT might be gaining on you.

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75 Comments on “Ask Jack: Senator Ornery Hatch?...”


  • avatar
    orick

    San Francisco, mountains, 4 wheel drive… How does the word ‘Subaru’ not come up even once in this article? Oh, cause no more hot hatch from them. Damn.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      Still, a stick WRX sedan can be had for $27,000, $22,000 less than the automatic CLA45 sedan (overpriced EVO) that Jack is recommending.

    • 0 avatar
      ijbrekke

      WRX or STI is blatantly obvious here. Go up towards Tahoe and it’s nearly every other car. Yeah, no hatch sucks, and the styling is still not right. Go drive one and then tell us how much those things matter to you.

      • 0 avatar
        Bazza

        I’ve driven both, and the blooms are off those particular roses. They’re too slow in stock form (yes, yes they are), the STi desperately needs a modernized motor, and losing the hatch form factor was just a bad decision, period.

        The sad thing is, Subaru could get back on the horse quickly if they saw any value in the market niche. It seems that they don’t.

        • 0 avatar
          Promit

          The really unfortunate part is that WRXes are selling better than ever, thanks in no small part to the automatic transmission. Check out the numbers – it’s one WRX for every three Imprezas.

          As long as they’re selling em as fast as they can make em, there’s not going to be energy behind bringing the hatch back and dealing with the technical deficiencies.

          • 0 avatar
            Bazza

            I agree that the CVT has brought more buyers to the table, so good for Subie on that. It’s just a shame that development of the STi has seemingly become a low priority, hatch or no.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Is it REALLY an AMG Benz though? That’s kind of like saying a JCW Mini Cooper is an ///M car. The 230i comes in AWD. Unfortunately no 3rd pedal… but the ZF8 is a willing companion, and in any case the best transmission in the world cannot make any of these lumpy overboosted diesel powerband 2.0Ts satisfying.

    35-40K buys a LOT of used car, and there’s nothing in the letter I see about only buying new. I’d go big- nationwide search shows a decent number of 997 Carrera 4s with livable mileage. Checks all boxes and some are even cheap enough to get with a warranty. The pleasure of saying “my Porsche” will be that much more legitimate and satisfying when it can be said with no asterisks.

    • 0 avatar
      ACCvsBig10

      The writer is confused. An AWD CLA starts at 35K. An AMG AWD CLA starts at 51K. Which is 10K-15K more than the price range of golf r and focus rs.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        ” The Mercedes-Benz CLA45 is a natural product of the above-mentioned invasive-segment strategy. It’s about twenty-five percent more expensive”

        In this case, the reader is the confused one.

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    The CHP Chain Police. And parked at a discreet distance from the the revenue-generator road block are the chain and cable pirates who are willing to sell you what you need to continue your journey (“Let’s see what’s in your wallet, boy. Ahh, I think I’ll take all of it for these here chains.”).

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Echos of National Lampoon’s Vacation.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      Most jurisdictions don’t require tire chains if you have proper winter rated tires.

      Buy a Raptor and put Duratrac’s on it.

      Problem solved :)

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        If the raptor is still using BFG AT/TA tires then there is no need since BFF AT/TA tires ( or whatever they call their all-terrain tires these days ) come with an extreme weather eating.

        Ford could have certainly demanded a more desert friendly tire with the BFF AT/TA moniker like the MOAB versions but if it’s the standard tread design it should have the mountain and snowflake symbol branded into the sidewall.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    The CLA45 is not an AMG. If the CLA250 is the nicest civic ever, than the AMG it’s probably the most overpriced Evo ever. I would tell the author that the only way he can answer this question is with a test drive. $40k is a massive amount of money to most people, so only he can decide what’s really worth him spending that on.

    If we’re going to be offering alternatives 2 pedal alternatives, instead of the AMG Benz, I’d suggest he go check out a fusion sport. Not as sporting as either of the compact hatches, but the CD4 is a pretty good feeling platform for a midsize fwd, more upscale feeling, sweet six power, and understated looks with the requested AWD and good power. Probably will be the easiest to find parts and service for as well. Slightly pricier and slower but with a great chassis would be an IS300 AWD.

    The BMW stop offering the AWD 230 with a manual? I just went to try to build one on their site and I couldn’t.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    Fusion Sport = no third pedal.

    If going that route, may I politely suggest the Audi A3 Sportback Quatro? AWD, 220 turbo-charged ponies, an interior you won’t have to apologize for, looks good with a ski-rack, Bang and Olafsen sound…6-speed dual-clutch paddle-shifted gearbox…

    Might even be able to get it in a certain shade of lime green, if one is so inclined…..

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Have to agree with Mark. When you mention in the same question: German, AWD, mountains and 3 pedals, then Audi should be the first marque considered.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      The Golf R is better in every way. The Audi will be just as anodyne, slower and IMO worse looking for the same $$$

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        You seem to be outvoted regarding this. As ‘Ajila’ posted: “If it was my money I’d get a 2015 or 2016 Audi S5 with a manual”

        Or in the immortal words of DCI Gene Hunt: “Fire up the Quattro!”

    • 0 avatar
      newenthusiast

      I logged in to also put in a vote for the Audi.

      But this would have to be a ‘coming off of a lease’ purchase, because the A3 and S3 are not available in a hatch as a new purchase anymore, at least not in the USA (unless he wants the e-tron, which is wagon/hatch only). And the RS3 is only coming over as a sedan, if he wanted that level of performance.

      There doesn’t seem to be a requirement for a new vehicle in the email, so a low mileage A3 Sportback Quattro should probably cost him less than purchasing new examples of either of his mentioned vehicles.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    I approve of the article title.

    One of the few points of consensus around here is that the CLA is cynical crap. Does the AMG treatment really transform the car or are the sins still apparent beneath the 4 second 0-60 time?

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      The AMG CLA is still a CLA. The CLA’s problems are fundamental.

      To “transform” it you’d need to change a few hard points. To substantially improve it you’d need, at least, to redesign the interior and change to a different engine (not just the same one with a big turbo slapped on it and some beefed-up parts).

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      The CLA 45 is way worse than a base CLA. The normal car is an OK car with an outrageous price based on its badge. If it was selling at the price of a Civic, nobody would say anything. The 45 on the other hand is like a riced out version. It has no refinement whatsoever that you would expect in a Benz.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Tsk Tsk. Jack, offering up a C class Mercedes as an option. I was at cars and coffee this weekend and the local Benz Dealer had an AMG CLA whatever with the requisite 71k MSRP. Um..no. I like the comparison to a tarted up Civic.

    Back to the question at hand. For whatever reason, I have always been a more is better kind of guy. So, if we presumably have 40k to spend.

    Find a 10k or less used Nissan Pathfinder 4×4, Infiniti version for double bonus points. Done. You have your Ski, haul crap car, drive in bad weather, park outside at the airport car which is not a terrible place to spend your time.

    Next: you have 30k to play with. Seems to me the # options on the used market for a ‘fun’ car are endless at this price point. Boxster, Vette, Mustang GT, Camaro SS (not my choice!), Challenger R/T 392 (perhaps for those $$), or you could be super cool and find the 5 series (I have never been up on the e42, e46, eR2D2 nomenclature for BMW please forgive) of your choice from the 90’s and have your local craftsman complete the LS conversion for your very own GMW. The list goes on for the available choices.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Calling the garbage CLA a “C Class” is a huge insult to the first and last C-Classes — the W202 and W205 — each of which in its own way is one of the better entry-lux cars of its era.

      Putting a giant turbo onto a turd just makes it a turd with turbo lag and a nice-looking magazine spec sheet.

    • 0 avatar
      srh

      As someone who has gone this route, with a garage that holds a Transit for transporting stuff, a Leaf for commuting, an RS for track day and hooning, a BMW for transporting the ladies, and a motorcycle for other purposes, I understand the motivation for this approach.

      But I can also testify that those who advocate this tend to forget that two vehicles means twice the insurance costs (or in my case 5x the insurance cost). Depending on the person and the state this may be a modest $600, or it may be a less modest $2000.

      If one can find one vehicle that fits their needs I’d definitely go that route instead of more, but specialized, vehicles. In my case, I’m trying to decide if that means I replace everything with a Raptor and be done with it…

  • avatar
    Speed3

    Going to toss a Volvo V60 Polestar into the hat. A little more money, a little more space.

  • avatar
    ajla

    If it was my money I’d get a 2015 or 2016 Audi S5 with a manual.

  • avatar
    ACCvsBig10

    Why no awd challenger. Got a big fuel tank good enough almost 500 miles of range.

  • avatar
    John R

    …or you could just buy the chains and save your money?

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Lexus RC350 F-sport AWD? Saw my first one in the flesh last week, that is a sharp looking car. Not sure what the ride is like (I assume not horrible) or if it’s sharp/sporty enough. But it keeps you in a sporty looking coupe, addresses the AWD question, and will most likely have tremendous resale and reliability. No stick shift.

    Another option: Challenger AWD? Again no stick.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    Wow it seems many , including Jack it seems did not read the guys letter, he wants a stick , is willing to put up w a stick in a major metro area so give the man a stick shift car, again he asks about buying a car not a cuv, or a suv, I am not a fan of the focus it is to boy racer for me, I say drive the R, which is understated , does not have general street gred but neither does his present ride so maybe a snab badge means very little to him and drive the focus, and the audi s since it is a cousin of the R and see what works for him, I say Volvo v60 but I do not think the new ones are out yet, maybe a 2 door infinity awd something what ever used to be the G37. Kinda of sad when TTAC suggest a guy looking for a small seen or hatch w a stick and TTAC says go w a auto CUV w a water downed snob badge.

  • avatar
    Ihatejalops

    “and occasionally requiring either four-wheel-drive or chains to appease the CalTrans authorities.”

    The fact that this comment was in the question shows me that this person doesn’t actually go to Tahoe/Mountains during the winter at all. Having lived there and know that it can snow more than 3 feet in a 24 hour period, chains and AWD are NECESSARY and aren’t for the “appeasement” of CalTrans authorities. There are too many bad drivers already in California, and this guy is one of them. A CUV is perfect for him to stay in his little bubble in San Fran. In more than 8 inches of snow, even with snow tires, he’ll need chains with his hatchback as he can easily get high centered. Joshua is an unintelligent dick who definitely does NOT go up into the mountains. You also don’t need AWD if you had chains. What an idiot.

    P.S. Chains are also REQUIRED if you do NOT have snow tires.

    • 0 avatar
      Salzigtal

      The OP is correctly referring to R2:
      Requirement 1 (R-1): Chains are required on all vehicles except passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks under 6,000 pounds gross weight and equipped with snow tires1 on at least two drive wheels. Chains must be carried by vehicles using snow tires. All vehicles towing trailers must have chains on one drive axle. Trailers with brakes must have chains on at least one axle.
      Requirement 2 (R2): Chains or traction devices are required on all vehicles except four wheel/ all wheel drive vehicles with snow-tread tires on all four wheels.
      NOTE: (Four wheel/all wheel drive vehicles must carry traction devices in chain control areas.)
      Requirement 3 (R3): Chains or traction devices are required on all vehicles, no exceptions.
      He’s welcome to drive over CA-88 & US-395 (another 2 hours) and spend as much money as he wants in Mammoth. Or fly.

      • 0 avatar
        Ihatejalops

        Thank you for completely missing the point and typing what I already had indicated. The idea that it’s to just “appease” Caltrans with chains is ludicrous as snow amounts and snow fall greatly exceed plowing capabilities (California also doesn’t salt).

        395 is east of Tahoe so taking that from San Fran is pointless and you have the same problems on 88. This clown has never driven in California snow and neither have you.

        • 0 avatar
          Synchromesh

          Dearest Ihatejalops,

          While I won’t comment on the the whole debacle of snow tires/chains because I haven’t been to Tahoe yet I can assure you that you’re incredibly wrong about the bad drivers. Judging by your comments you have no clue what bad drivers are. I moved to SF from Boston – the capital of bad drivers. The most moronic boneheaded idiots I ever had to share the roads with come hail from there. CA drivers, as mixed as they are, are generally quite excellent in comparison.

          You also sound like one of those very butthurt people that had to move out of the SFBA because they can’t afford it anymore. Well, let me tell you this – as a recent transplant, we really don’t miss you.

          P.S. chances are I’ve seen far more snow than you in my lifetime and in Boston I did just fine with a regular fwd economy car on all-season tires. Never put snow tires on anything I owned even once.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      How are tire changes going to prevent high-centering?

      I would assume that “California snow” if we leave Charlie Sheen out of this, is rather wet and heavy?

      Chains may be of benefit for the extra bite but in reality, most passenger vehicle tires need “cable” style chain since true tire chains are going to shred those tires.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    I can tell you from experience that “just go with the chains” is not a desirable option.
    .
    .

  • avatar
    sco

    Just to expand on this for non-mountain area readers, if chain controls are on, you need to pull over and put chains on your tires. You do not put chains on in SF and drive the whole way with chains, that would illegal and also a horrible ride. If you put chains on yourself you’ve got to give each of your dirty wet tires a big hug to fasten the chains on. Alternatively you can wait and pay someone to do it for you (like $20 as I recall). Either way is sub-optimal so yeah, 4 wheel drive (which is approved in lieu of chains) would be nice but it in no way makes financial sense.
    And as for CalTrans, ihat is right, roads around Tahoe are steep and the snow comes down in shocking volumes. CalTrans isnt trying to nanny-state anyone, they’re trying to keep you from killing yourself or someone else.

  • avatar
    Delta9A1

    I went from an ’03 Subaru Baja to a ’12 GTI (DSG) as a winter/commuter car, and traded the GTI in on a ’16 Golf R (also DSG). The Focus RS was the subject of dealer mark-ups when I was looking at it, and both the Focus and WRX suffered from having cheap-looking interiors and boy-racer exteriors. The seats in the Golf R are really comfortable, and the car was amazing in the snow this past winter (I ran it on 16″ Tiguan wheels with Michelin snow tires). I have had no regrets with the GTI or Golf R as a winter/commuter car. YMMV.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    A Mini Countryman S or Clubman S is available with AWD and manual transmission and with reasonable prudence on the options can be had for under $40K.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Was his question, coming with length?

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    “grown men didn’t agree to appear in simpering photography sessions commemorating their emasculating engagements to former late-night legends of the Sig Ep house at Ohio State”

    Can you elaborate what this is about? I Googled to the best of my ability and came up with nothing.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      As did I. Not sure if Jack is saying he’s marrying a man (former frat boy?) or a whore that was popular with the frat boys.

      Either way, seems odd.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        mojeimeje – thanks.

        Edit: Why did this show up earlier in the thread?

      • 0 avatar
        everybodyhatesscott

        ‘Can you elaborate what this is about? I Googled to the best of my ability and came up with nothing.’

        As someone who has facebook account and is at that age where he sees lots of ‘happy couples’ getting married Jack is talking about the pathetic engagement photos one sees with overly obsequious guys who are marrying the former town bicycle. Or, as heartiste would say, ‘alpha fux beta bux.’

    • 0 avatar
      mojeimeje

      There is a thing called “Engagement Photo Session” where dudes go out to a nice forest dressed in the nicest possible sweater looking all happy together with their fiance to take cute professional lovely photos.

      Like this:
      https://www.google.com/search?q=engagement+photos&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiei6SJ2vXTAhUq7oMKHR5eDR0Q_AUICigB&biw=1920&bih=953#tbm=isch&q=engagement+photos+ideas

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Jack, this is the worst recommendation I can recall you making (although accompanied by nice writing). The CLA is a San Francisco/Seattle carshare-service car. It has the comfort of a Fiat Panda. It’s the Chevy Cobalt of the luxury marques. Putting a giant turbo, a dumb body kit, and a $20k markup on it doesn’t change any of that.

    This man strikes me as just about the perfect customer for a Golf R. It’s expensive for what you get, but what you get isn’t available anywhere else.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      The CLA is great at one thing.

      Laughing at the people who bought it because ITS A MERCEDES, LOOK AT THAT BADGE! Yes, I could afford a loaded Honda, but I’m a BALLLA, BI-otch!

      Easiest way to spot a clueless badge whore these days. The same guy who had gold badges on his ES300 20 years ago. You bought a loaded Camry. Impressive.

  • avatar
    bortlicenseplate

    Greetings from a fellow West Coast urbanite / weekend wannabe hardcore alpinist (that’s a self-accusation of course; you may very well not be a wannabe!). I live in Vancouver and play in Whistler every winter weekend, and think a lot about the ideal car for this (looking to finally replace my own Subaru legacy turbo wagon). A few thoughts: 1) for skiing and riding, and accepting we get very few decent wagons this side of the pond, do not underestimate the utility of a sedan over a shorter hatch: the extra cargo length of a trunk is great for fitting skis and boards inside, when you don’t feel like using a rack or a box. 2) if you absolutely want a rack, consider a BMW 3-series: they’re one of few automakers who still offer built-in mounting points for flush-mounted roof racks. Aesthetically and functionally, I find these preferable, and wish other auto manufacturers offered them. 3) Even without my roof-rack mounting point myopia, I would still recommend a manual transmission CPO 335i or m235i xdrive with a Sport or M-sport pack. Make sure it’s a CPO, because BMW. An Audi S4/S5, as others have mentioend, would be just as good, probably, (plus you don’t get saddled with run-flats) but that smooth inline-6 in a RWD chassis would be hard to beat, I think. For the same money as a newer CLA 45 AMG, it would be a no-brainer for me.

  • avatar
    ScottE5

    The Atari 800.

    Thank you, Jack. Your writing continues to astound. This time it brought a tear to my eye with memories of a childhood spent in my parent’s basement playing Star Raiders and cobbling together 8-bit symphonies in basic.

    I was quite the stud back then.

  • avatar
    srh

    I test drove a Golf R, and I bought a Focus RS.

    “Sedate” is a good word for the R. I mashed the pedal and it went. Fast. And boring.

    I’m a middle-aged dude, but I don’t find the RS to be too boy-racer. My cow-orker who doesn’t know much about cars saw it and just said, “Oh I didn’t know you got a Focus”. No double-takes, no comments about the spoiler.

    I also don’t find the ride that harsh. Sure, adjust the suspension and, if you have a thin layer of fat, you’ll feel it jounce around on every bump. But at default it does fine on most roads.

    I shod mine with Blizzaks on 18-inch wheels for the winter, and it did just fine. The optional Sport Cup tires are probably not going to get you over the pass in the winter but they do fine as a track tire (though I’m told by a GT350 owner that they last not long and cost mucho much to replace).

    The interior isn’t German luxury fancy, but I don’t find it offensive or cheap.

    The real downside, in my opinion, of using it for the OPs purposes is the lack of clearance. I’d guess it’s a few inches less than the Northwest winter car of choice, an Outback.

    I don’t know anything about the CLA, nor why Jack brought it up in response to this question about the Golf R and Focus RS, so can’t comment on how it compares to that.

    • 0 avatar
      srh

      Also, BTW, the days of ADM on the Focus RS are over. Below MSRP or GTFO.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Seems that most people who find the Focus interior “cheap looking” are just staring at the badge on the steering wheel and thinking “well, it isn’t German or Japanese, so…”.

    • 0 avatar
      Plamry

      To piggy back on this comment, I have owned both (had the R for a year and currently own the RS)The Golf R was a DSG loved the interior and build quality (for the price). Can’t say the Focus RS has that solid feel and the seats aren’t quite as nice but I’d take the RS over the R. For me the rear seat fits my kids car seats better and it’s just a more fun car in my opinion. Also I love the Nitrous Blue. Also living in snowy Wisconsin, I have found that despite the low clearance, the RS handles the weather well with snow tires.

  • avatar
    rtr

    I sold my 2013 Boxster S and bought a Golf R. Living in the Frozen North, I wanted a 4 seasons sports car. It has a 6 spd natch, and the gearbox/clutch is very nice. Fast? Of course, because 300 HP. The interior is much nicer than the RS and the ride is comfortable in comfort mode and nicely tied down in Race (yes that is one of the modes).

    Best of all, it is sleeper – nothing to call attention to it. I think the cops used to live in the trunk of my Boxster whereas the Golf R draws no attention. Handling is superb, finally a front driver which turns in smartly with no understeer. The only thing I dislike is the damn 19 inch wheels which force me to slalom around the all too numerous potholes on our bombed out roads. I plan to change them to more sensible rims with some sidewall on the tires.

    Bottom line is that I love it!

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