One of the most familiar cars on the road, the popular Volkswagen Golf has been setting standards in the family hatchback class for decades. It's hugely desirable, spacious and economical. The massive range encompasses everything from frugal diesel hatchbacks to spacious estates and convertibles. And there are exciting GTI or R performance versions – and even a hybrid and an all-electric model – so there's a Golf for almost any budget or requirements.
- High-quality interior
- Efficient engines
- Holds value well
- Unexciting looks
- Rivals better to drive
- Skoda Octavia more spacious
The Golf hatchback (with three or five doors) is by far and away the most popular version of this already very popular car. Lower-spec models such as the S are competitively priced compared to rivals, yet still reasonably well equipped, while the more expensive GT packs lots of luxury kit and technology. The mid-range Match offers an excellent balance of price and spec, and the petrol and diesel engine ranges are both impressive. Those seeking the lowest running costs should consider the 88mpg BlueMotion version.
- Very practical
- Comfortable ride
- Economical engines
- Not as big as Skoda Octavia
- Quite expensive
- Not the most fun to drive
The Volkswagen Golf Mk7 is as popular as ever, and now the company has launched an estate version of the latest Golf. It's got a huge boot and loads of rear legroom, with a comfortable ride and excellent economy. However it's outclassed by the Skoda Octavia estate, which does everything the Golf can do at a cheaper list price.
- Great looks
- High-quality interior and roof
- Quiet interior with the roof up
- Rear passengers exposed to elements
- Small boot
Following a nine year absence, the Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet is back. It's based on the current Golf hatchback, and slots into VW's range below the Eos coupe-cabriolet. That model has a complex folding metal roof, but the Golf Cabriolet has a simple fabric top that folds at the touch of a button. Don't think that simple means basic, though: with the top in place, the Cabriolet is nearly as quiet and comfortable as the standard hatchback.
- Feels very fast
- Low running costs
- Just as practical as a normal Golf
- Expensive to buy
- Pricey optional extras
- Doesn't look much different to standard car
The Volkswagen Golf GTD is a fast, frugal and well built diesel hatchback, offering a great compromise between the iconic Golf GTI and lesser models in the VW range.
Its 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine has plenty of power and will accelerate the car from 0-62mph in just 7.5 seconds. While that's a full second slower than the petrol-powered VW Golf GTI model, the GTD actually feels nearly as quick on the open road. Yet with fuel economy of more than 60mpg, few owners will mind the slight trade-off in outright speed.
- Very desirable
- Best Golf GTI to date
- As practical as the standard car
- Subdued styling
- Performance pack costs extra
The Golf GTI has been around for more than 35 years and has always been the benchmark for hot hatchbacks. It combines all the practicality of your average family hatchback with performance and acceleration to shame many sports cars. It's great fun to drive and has plenty of overtaking power thanks to a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine.
It feels very well made, with solid, logically laid-out switches and controls. There's plenty of room inside, with two supportive front seats and enough space in the rear for three adults and their luggage in the boot. If you want something that can fit the family and put a smile on your face, the Golf GTI could be the car for you. There's even a diesel GTD version for even better fuel economy.
- Powerful engine
- Four-wheel-drive grip
- Stylish looks
- Compromised practicality
- Significantly more expensive than the Golf GTI...
- ...for only a little extra performance
The Volkswagen Golf R is the fastest model in the current Golf hatchback range, combining the practicality of the standard model with the straight-line speed and cornering ability of sports cars costing twice as much. Whether the R constitutes good value depends on how often you'll make the most of the extra performance it offers over the only slightly less powerful Volkswagen Golf GTI.
- Fun to drive
- Decent practicality
- Top-notch build quality
- Expensive to buy
- Bluetooth not standard
- Rear seats feel exposed with roof down
The VW Golf GTI cabriolet offers a combination of the GTI hatchback's peppy performance and the Golf cabriolet's slick folding fabric roof. The standard Golf cabriolet was CarBuyer's Best Convertible for 2013, so the range-topping GTI is off to a great start. Offering similar performance to the MINI JCW convertible, the GTI cabriolet offers full-size seating for four adults and features a 250-litre boot – only 100-litres smaller than the hatchback. Interior quality is top-notch and despite the smaller boot, it's a practical soft-top when compared with the MINI or the Mazda MX-5.
- Low running costs
- Surprisingly quick
- Well built
- Harsh ride
- Limited range
- Short lifespan of batteries
The Volkswagen e-Golf looks exactly the same as any other Volkswagen Golf – but it's powered by an electric motor. This makes the e-Golf extremely cheap to run, pretty quick and very quiet. There are limitations, though: the e-Golf has a short range, a harsh ride and batteries that are unlikely to last the life of the car. But as you'd expect from VW, the e-Golf has a spacious cabin and top-notch build quality.
- Fast acceleration
- Lots of grip in corners
- Comfortable and quiet for long journeys
- Expensive compared to rivals
- Not as sharp as Golf R hatchback
- Expensive to run
The Golf R cabriolet is, in simple terms, a convertible version of the Golf R hatchback. There are a few key differences, however, including a less powerful engine and the fact that it's front-wheel drive only (the hatchback is four-wheel drive). It provides great performance and handling, with the added ability to put the roof down. With the roof up, the R cabriolet is quiet and comfortable, adding another string to the R's bow. Even with an official price reduction, however, it's still an overpriced car.