Volkswagen Golf hatchback

Price  £17,595 - £27,185

Volkswagen Golf hatchback

reviewed by Carbuyer

  • Well-built cabin
  • Economical engines
  • Strong residual values
  • Bland styling
  • Costlier than some rivals
  • Skoda Octavia offers more space

At a glance

Our Pick
Match Edition TDI 2.0 150 PS BMT 5dr £23,425
The greenest
BlueMotion TDI 1.6 110 PS 5dr £22,090
The cheapest
S TSI 1.2 85 PS BMT 3dr £17,595
The fastest
GT 1.4 TSI ACT 150 PS DSG BMT 5dr £25,685
Top of the range
R-Line TDI 2.0 150 PS DSG BMT 5dr £27,185

"If you want a solid all-rounder, then the Volkswagen Golf is hard to beat. It has a classy, well-built cabin and efficient engines, plus it’s good to drive."

There's no shortage of bodystyles for the Volkswagen Golf: it's available as a practical estate and as the Golf Plus mini-MPV, but the three and five-door hatchbacks remain by far the most popular versions. It's now in its seventh generation and widely regarded as the car to beat in the family hatchback class, which includes strong and equally popular competition from the likes of the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and Peugeot 308. We've reviewed the performance models – the VW Golf GTD, VW Golf GTI and VW Golf R – separately.

Previous generations of the Golf have been known for excellent build quality, refinement and performance, but rivals have been more fun to drive and more affordable. The current model is still more expensive than the norm, but it's much better to drive than before, which almost completes the circle in terms of just how good an all-rounder it is. Strong residual values help to justify the higher price, as used Golfs tend to be worth more than your average hatchback second-hand.

The Golf is available with 1.6 and 2.0-litre diesel engines, the most economical of which is the 1.6-litre TDI in the Golf BlueMotion. It can return 88.3mpg and is exempt from road tax. However, the larger 148bhp 2.0-litre TDI engine is our pick, because the extra performance makes it more suitable for most roads and it still returns an impressive 68mpg.

As is usually the case, diesel Golfs are more expensive and if your annual mileage is less than 12,000, a petrol model may well be a better bet. The official economy figures are lower for the petrols, but still respectable – the 148bhp 1.4-litre TSI, for example, is helped by VW's cylinder-deactivation technology (which shuts down half the engine when you're cruising gently) to do 58.9mpg.

There's now a petrol Golf BlueMotion, too, with a 1.0-litre TSI engine that returns 65.7mpg and is more economical than the equivalent Ford Focus EcoBoost or Peugeot 308 PureTech petrols. All Golfs also feature certain elements of BlueMotion technology to improve efficiency across the board.

As frugal as the conventional engines are, they’re not a patch on the petrol-electric Golf GTE hybrid, which returns 166mpg, or the e-Golf that runs purely on electricity and has a 118-mile range. Both are more expensive than the normal petrol and diesel models, though.

Transmissions vary depending on the model, but Golfs come with either a five or six-speed manual or a six or seven-speed DSG automatic gearboxes. As autos go, the latter is one of the best: it's smooth, with quick gearchanges, and very efficient, so it's worth considering if you do a lot of urban driving in particular.

Trim levels start with the basic S, followed by mid-range Match (you can also have a 1.0-litre BlueMotion petrol with this model), BlueMotion (which is limited to the 1.6-litre TDI engine), sportier GT and top-of-the range R-line.

Our pick is Match, which strikes a good balance between price and equipment: it comes with adaptive cruise control, alloy wheels and parking sensors on top of features such as the media system and DAB radio that come with every model. The Golf also has a full five-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating and is known for its reliability.

MPG, running costs & CO2

4.7 / 5

The ultra-efficient BlueMotion model steals the headlines, but all Volkswagen Golf models are efficient relative to their performance

Engines, drive & performance

4.2 / 5

The Volkswagen Golf has turbocharged petrol engines ideal for low-mileage drivers, while its diesels are the best in the business

Interior & comfort

4.5 / 5

The Volkswagen Golf is supremely comfortable and quiet inside. Along with high quality, this is one of its most impressive features

Practicality & boot space

4.2 / 5

The Volkswagen Golf has improved passenger and boot space, so the latest model can hold plenty of stuff in either three or five-door form

Reliability & safety

4 / 5

Superb safety ratings and high build quality make the Volkswagen Golf a dependable choice for long-term ownership

What the others say

4.3 / 5
based on 4 reviews
4 / 5
"The latest Volkswagen Golf is irritatingly good in all of the key areas. In fact, it may be the only car you will ever need."
5 / 5
"This generation of Volkswagen Golf is the best yet. Classy, refined and great to drive, it's one of the best small family cars."
9 / 10
"The 1.6-litre diesel Golf is an excellent all-rounder that makes a lot of sense as a company car, while the lower-powered 1.4-litre petrol is an even better choice if you’re a private buyer because it's cheaper and quieter."
7 / 10
"The latest Golf improves a car that was already the class leader. It defines this sector and should be its default buy. You simply can’t go wrong."
What owners say 
4.2 /5 based on 912 reviews
 of people would recommend this car to a friend
Last updated 
20 Oct 2015
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