Volkswagen Golf hatchback (2009-2012)
- Solid, strong image
- Comfortable and quiet cabin
- Decent economy
- Not as engaging to drive as Ford Focus
- Expensive options
- Civic has bigger boot
"Impressive build quality and a luxurious interior mean the VW Golf majors on comfort and refinement."
The VW Golf exudes quality and badge appeal. It's not as much fun to driveas a Ford Focus, but instead majors on comfort and luxury. The range is comprehensive, offering everything from a super-economical BlueMotion model to the rapid R performance flagship. To broaden appeal, all models are available with three orfive doors. TSI petrol engines are very impressive and return low emissions with surprising performance. All models come with air-con, but you’ll pay extra for Bluetooth.
MPG, running costs & CO2
All models deliver good fuel economy
The Golf promises to be cheap to run. Sensible dealer rates onservicing and easy availability of consumables like tyres and brake pads allow you to shop around for the best deals. All models deliver good fuel economy, but BlueMotion versions, which return 74.3mpg, are very impressive indeed. Like for like, the Golf shouldn’t cost you more to run than its competitors.
Interior & comfort
The Golf never feels uncomfortable
The Golf's near-luxury-car levels of comfort mean it's a relaxing car to drive long distances in. The seats are firm and supportive and the driving position is easily adjusted to suit all shapes and sizes. Chunky, easy-to-operate controls, a light, accurate gearshift and suspension that's tuned for ride quality rather than outright sporting prowess all impress. Larger wheel choices on the more expensive GT models upset the balance a little, however.
Practicality & boot space
The boot offers a reasonable amount of space
The interior will seat four adults in relative comfort – or five at a push for shorter journeys. The rear seats are better suited to children though, with access to the back best in the five-door model. The boot offers a reasonable amount of space, but it's not as big as the Honda Civic's. Plus, there's quite a sizeable lip to lift your luggage over. The glovebox is a decent size and the door storage bins are roomy, too.
Reliability & safety
All of the mechanicals are tried and tested
The latest Volkswagen Golf has wasted no time impressing people. It scored five stars in its Euro NCAP crash test, and debuted at number four out of 100 in the 2010 Driver Power survey, claiming ninth position for reliability and 15th for build quality along the way. Owners also praised braking performance. The Golf is still relatively new, but as it's based on the same chassis and engine range as the previous model, the mechanicals are tried and tested.
Engines, drive & performance
It's a great cruiser and comfortable to drive
Diesel power used to be the only real choice in the Golf, until VW introduced its TSI petrol engines. Turbocharging and supercharging makes them smooth, quick and easy to drive while delivering tax-friendly emissions and good economy. The 1.6 and 2.0 TDI diesels are punchy and remain the economy stars if achieving the bestfuel consumption is your goal. With light steering and supple suspension, the Golf drives very competently. It's a great cruiser and yet still rewarding to drive on winding roads. All versionsare comfortable on longer journeys.
Price, value for money & options
Volkswagen’s pricing has remained steady
You might imagine the upmarket Golf will be expensive to buy, but that's simply not the case. Volkswagen's pricing has remained steady as rivals’ have increased. Thanks to the Golf's desirability in comparison to mainstream rivals, you’ll get more when you sell it.
What the others say
VW have made some serious changes to the MkV to make the MkVI, even if they share the same basic bits - and one of them has been attention to NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) issues. The new Golf is quieter, better built and simply nicer to drive than before. You'll fit the whole family in here and the whole deal is as classless as it comes. Boringly good.
The GTD's carefully balanced fusion of sporty and sensible is perfectly reflected by the aesthetic treatment, which comprises all of the GTI's body addenda (bumpers, sills, tailgate spoiler, twin tailpipes) bar the red stripes on the grille, plus a a 15mm drop in ride height over the standard Golf.
As well as offering a great blend of build quality and luxury, what makes this model even more exciting is that it returns nearly 45mpg on the combined cycle. Pound for pound, that makes it the most efficient performance petrol engine money can buy. Exhaust emissions are low, too, as the car produces around 145g/km of CO2.
The quality and finish of the interior are impeccable too and there's a premium feel to all the controls and switches. There's also new technology available on this Golf including a clever adaptive air suspension system (called ACC or Adaptive Chassis System) which can vary the handing and ride between sport or comfort modes.
Last updated: 28 Jun 2013