Review

Volkswagen Golf hatchback

Price  £17,625 - £27,785

Volkswagen Golf hatchback

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • High-quality interior
  • Good to drive
  • Cheap to run
Cons
  • Expensive to buy
  • Some pricey options
  • Conservative design

At a glance

Our Pick
Match Edition TDI 2.0 150 PS BMT 5dr £23,715
The greenest
BlueMotion TDI 1.6 110 PS 5dr £22,360
The cheapest
S TSI 1.2 85 PS BMT 3dr £17,625
The fastest
GT Edition 1.4 TSI ACT 150 PS DSG BMT 5dr £26,285
Top of the range
R-Line Edition TDI 2.0 150 PS DSG BMT 5dr £27,785

“An automotive legend, the Volkswagen Golf backs up its longevity with quality, efficiency and desirability.”

The Volkswagen Golf seems to have been ever-present at the top of the family hatchback class and, despite having been around for what seems like forever, it's never far from the top of the sales charts either.

There are several good reasons why this is the case, as despite being up against some superb opposition in the shape of the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra, Skoda Octavia and SEAT Leon, the Golf is still consistently named among the leaders in this particular class.

If you’re after a Golf, you’re almost spoilt for choice, as there's a model for every occasion these days, with GTI, GTD and R high-performance variants, estate versions and the plug-in hybrid GTE all offering variations on a theme. Here, however, we’ll be concentrating on the traditional small family hatchback version.

Over the course of its four decades on sale, the VW Golf has become associated with desirability, quality and engineering excellence. This reputation does come at a price, however, as the latest Golf commands a premium compared to its more humble rivals from the likes of Ford and Vauxhall. It is, however, likely to retain more of its original price when the time comes to sell, and it's still not as expensive as an Audi A3 (which is based on the same underpinnings).

If low running costs are your primary concern, then the 1.6-litre diesel Bluemotion model is the one to go for. It's claimed to return around 83mpg and emits just 89g/km of CO2. This means very low fuel costs, as well as zero road tax and just an 18% Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) company car tax bill, too. However, our favourite diesel engine is the 148bhp 2.0-litre version that still returns a claimed 67mpg. Its 109g/km CO2 rating results in a £20 tax bill and a reasonably low 21% BiK rating, while the extra performance is very useful.

Petrol may suit you better if you don’t do too many miles (less than 12,500 annually) and there are a couple of options that we’d recommend above all others. If economy and low running costs are your absolute priorities, then the 1.0-litre, 113bhp three-cylinder engine is worth a look thanks to a tax-free 99g/km of CO2 emissions and economy of 65.7mpg.

You may, however, end up yearning for a bit more power, in which case, we’d advise you take a look at the 148bhp turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder engine. It's much quicker and, thanks to cylinder de-activation technology (a system that shuts down two of the cylinders when full power isn’t required) it still manages 58.9mpg and will cost just £30 to tax.

As with the engines, there's a massive range of trim levels to choose from, but in terms of combining purchase price, engine choice and equipment levels, the Match Edition is our favourite.

As well as all the standard kit you get across the range such as digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity and full smartphone integration (including Android Auto, MirrorLink and Apple CarPlay) you also get extra such as alloy wheels, some stylish interior trim pieces, adaptive cruise control and front and rear parking sensors.

The safety of the car shouldn’t cause you any sleepless nights, either, thanks to a five-star Euro NCAP score and plenty of standard safety equipment. The Golf's reputation for sturdy build quality is hard earned and backed up by its performance in our 2015 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey. It placed 30th overall out of 200 cars and, while its 75th place finish for reliability may be a little disappointing, coming 39th for build quality – up against some seriously luxurious competition – shows how good the Golf is.

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

4.4 / 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 
4.2093784078517
4.2 /5 based on 917 reviews
70%
 of people would recommend this car to a friend
Last updated 
31 Mar 2016
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