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I owned a 2002 GTI 1.8T. While I have never owned a Focus, I have driven them enough to draw some comparisons (or lack of comparisons) between them.

The GTI is a fine car, but it has been touted to be more than it really is. The motor is very good, but somewhat limited in what it can REALLY do. Within the scope of basic bolt-on mods, it's output is capped to around 200-210whp. The engine does make very good torque though. The AWP makes power very low in the RPM band, with a lot of usable power...much like the zetec (just in greater quantities.) Power delivery is not very linear, with a large boost spike at around 3200rpm (which corresponds with torque peak.) You always know your driving a turbocharged car.

Suspension wise, there is no Ed mentioned. In stock trim, the Focus will run circles around the GTI. The GTI feels heavy, and soft compared to the nimble Focus. I had my GTI equipped with Bilstein sport dampers with H&R sport springs. Even with that done, the car still didn't posses the agility that the Focus does. The GTI was a fun car to drive, but it is heavy with an outdated rear suspension.

Fit and finish is where the VW shines. The interior has an immaculate design. Pure german. The gauges are beautiful, and everything has a high quality feel to it. There are no exposed fasteners, and everything feels like it belongs in a more expensive car.

Exterior wise, the car is also quite nice. The paint is better than average, and the car feels well put together. However, my car developed a door squeak that the dealer couldn't fix. Apparently, some GTI's are suffering from a speaking/popping from the drivers door. It might be in the hinges. It was getting a little annoying, but it wasn't anything severe.

Reliability wise, you roll the dice just like on a Focus. Some people have no problems (like Ed,) while others are looking to get rid of them under Lemon laws. Electrical problems seem to be the most common. And it is no wonder. The VW's have one of the more complex electrical systems of any lower end car. EVERYTHING is connected to everything else. The damn stereo can throw codes on the ECU.

I guess what it came down to in my case was that the car wasn't worth what I was paying to own it. The engine was fun, but that was the only part of the car that I was passionate towards. Mods are EXTREMELY expensive for the car, and I was going broke trying to turn it into the car I wanted it to be.

The Chip is gonna set you back over $600 for the APR. A turboback exhaust will cost a minimum of $800. Then you need a new diverter valve. Add another $600--1000 for new suspension (which you WILL need.) So, you've just spent 2 grand on mods, and you will have maybe 200whp, and a car that doesn't wallow in the corners. You haven't touched the car cosmetically, and your car will run mid 14's at best.
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