Price £16,495 - £25,090
There's virtually nothing revolutionary about the seventh-generation VW Golf, but it's an improvement over its predecessor in near enough every area. The interior is spacious, better made and quieter on the move, while the exterior design has been subtly updated with sharper creases and more angular headlights. It's also safer, securing a five-star crash safety rating from Euro NCAP thanks to plenty of clever safety tech. It costs roughly the same as the car it replaces too, despite coming with more equipment as standard.
Price £21,325 - £38,770
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.
3 & 5 doors
Price £25,285 - £27,915
The Golf GTI was introduced in 1976 inventing the term 'hot-hatch'. Other makers have since followed suit, producing small, practical everyday hatchbacks fittted with powerful engines.
Price £29,755 - £31,055
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 Cabriolet for 2012, so the range-topping GTI is off to a great start. Offering similar performance to the MINI John Cooper Works Convertible, the GTI Cabriolet offers full-size seating for four adults and features a 250-litre boot – 100-litres smaller than the hatchback. Cabin quality is high and despite the smaller boot, it's a practical soft-top when compared with the MINI or the Mazda MX-5.
The most practical Golf brings the hatchback's fresher face and smarter interior to the previous generation Golf estate's body. It fulfils the estate car brief very well with its generous and easily accessed load area. Despite its greater usefulness it won’t hold its value as well as its hatchback relations. An SE model with the 1.6 TDI diesel engine makes sense, thanks to 67mpg economy and low 109g/km emissions.
3 & 5 doors
Comfort is high on the Golf's agenda – and from the driver's seat, it's as quiet as a luxury car. That raises it above rivals like the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra for outright comfort. Build quality is first rate across the entire range, from the entry S models right up to the rapid GTI and R range-toppers. Smaller TSI petrol engines deliver above expectations, TDI diesels offer punchy performance and excellent economy, while the clever DSG twin-clutch automatic gearbox option is smooth and easy to operate.
3 & 5 doors
Replacing the celebrated Golf R32 the Volkswagen Golf R boasts four-wheel drive and a highly-tweaked version of the previous MkV Golf GTI's turbocharged four-cylinder 2.0-litre engine. Two bodyshells are available, the sporty three-door and practical five-door. Producing 265bhp the Golf range-topper is genuinely sports car fast- the 0-62mph benchmark is despatched in an all-wheel drive assisted 5.7 seconds! Crucially the newly developed engine is cleaner and greener than it's R32 predecessor and the 4MOTION all-wheel drive transmission is very impressive in the corners. Buyers opting for the twin-clutch DSG gearbox will benefit not only from lower fuel consumption but also faster acceleration, although some gear changes are slightly irratic when in fully-automatic 'D' mode. The Golf R represents a more practical choice than the Volkswagen Scirocco R but with the performance to match or even exceed rivals from Renault or BMW.
Coming in 2013.
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.
3 & 5 doors
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 from its 2.0-litre turbocharged engine. It feels very well made, with all the logically laid out switches and controls feeling solid. There's plenty of room inside, with two supportive front seats and enough space in the rear for three adults and their luggage. If you want a car that can accommodate the family and put a smile on your face, the Golf GTI could be the car for you.