The Volkswagen Golf is a classy and well-built rival to the Ford Focus. Its neat interior, class-leading comfort and smart looks make it one of the most desirable cars in its class. The extensive model range offers something for all budgets, and includes a hatchback and the Volkswagen Golf Bluemotion, which features lower emissions and economy. The engine range includes fuel efficient diesels and high performance turbos. The model range includes a GT model that competes with the likes of the Ford Focus ST and Ford Focus RS, but neither is cheap.
- Decent practicality
- High-quality interior
- Economical engines
- A little bit boring to look at
- Not as big as a Skoda Octavia
- Not as fun to drive as a Ford Focus
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 lines 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.
- 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.
- 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 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- and there's even a diesel GTD version for even better 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 version of the hatchback in the current Golf 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 just how often you'll make the most of the extra performance it offers over the 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.
- 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.