We know you like the Volkswagen Golf – it's consistently the most searched-for car on whatcar.com.
However, with nearly 40 models to choose from, how do you pick the best one for your needs and how should you spec it? Here's our guide to help you.
For most petrol buyers there are three engines to choose from – a couple of 1.2 TSI with either 84bhp or 104bhp and a 120bhp 1.4 TSI.
Okay, the 1.2 is the cheapest way into Golf ownership but, for us, the 1.4 TSI unit is our favourite petrol engine. In fact, it's our favourite overall, producing a nigh-on perfect blend of performance and economy.
For diesel buyers, our favourite engine is the 138bhp 2.0 TDI because it's strong and refined. With this engine, the Golf averages 58.9mpg and emits 126g/km of CO2.
However, it's not quite as straightforward as that. If low emissions and high economy are the most important factors for you, then the 1.6 Bluemotion version – which averages 74.3mpg and emits 99g/km of CO2 – is worth considering.
If you're after a sporty Golf, you could opt for a 158bhp version of the 1.4 TSI engine, but for true hot-hatch performance there are few better cars than the Golf GTI, powered by a 208bhp 2.0-litre engine. We'd stay away from special-edition GTIs - we don't think they are worth the premium.
Diesel buyers can choose a 168bhp 2.0 TDI, and while this GTD might suit some, we think the petrol engine makes for a better hot hatch.
Unless you're after a performance Golf – GT, GTD, GTI, R – there are three trims to choose from – S, Match or Bluemotion. For us, it's a simple choice; Match costs £1250 more than S, but you get a car stacked full of equipment, including Bluetooth, DAB radio, front and rear parking sensors, automatic headlights and wipers, leather multi-function steering wheel and all-round electric windows.
If you want an automatic gearbox, then Volkswagen's semi-automatic DSG is a peach. It costs £1360.
It does harm fuel economy and emissions, though, and for that reason we'd stick with the six-speed manual. If you must have an automatic, however, the DSG is one of the best.
Match trim is well equipped, so there's little reason to raid the options list, but there are a few things to consider.
Volkswagen offers the Golf in three no-cost solid paint colours, but we think the £465 for metallic paint is a worthwhile investment when it comes to resale values.
It's not the best-value servicing offer there, but VW offers a three-year or 30,000-mile servicing plan for £299.
It's always worth haggling to see if the dealer will throw them in for free, but they are £80 otherwise.
Our perfect Golf
Golf Match 1.4 122 5dr 6sp manual: £19,100
Metallic paint: £465
Servicing pack: £299
Total price: £19,944
How to haggle on a Golf
Currently, our Target Price mystery shoppers think you can get 7.75% off a Golf Match. You might find it difficult to haggle anything off the servicing package, but the other options are fair game. You should pay no more than £17,705 for the basic car.
Our reviews are based on hard data and thorough testing in the real world.
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