Which Volkswagen Golf should I buy - petrol, diesel, electric or hybrid?

Reader wants to buy a Volkswagen Golf but doesn't know which type of motor will be the cheapest for him to run...

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Claire Evans
17 April 2019

Volkswagen Golf GTD

I'm thinking of buying a Volkswagen Golf and wonder what the differences are between the GTE (plug-in hybrid), e-Golf (electric), 1.5 TSI (petrol) and 2.0 TDI (diesel) versions in terms of cost per mile and day-to-day realities. Much of my driving involves 100-mile-plus trips on motorways and dual carriageways. 

Casper Gorniok 

What Car? says…

This is becoming a common question, so we examined the cost of ownership of a range of petrol, diesel, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric cars at whatcar.com

The petrol Golf is by far the cheapest to own for three years; it costs £3097 less than the diesel and £4626 less than the e-Golf. The main reason for this is its lower depreciation than the other fuel types; it's also the cheapest to insure and service. 

The biggest issue for the e-Golf is depreciation; it loses value so quickly that the savings made on fuel and car tax aren't anywhere near enough to compensate as a new car purchase. However, it could be  good option if you decide to buy second-hand, because it'll be far more affordable to buy and its other running costs are far lower than the petrol or diesel Golfs.    

We've not included figures for the GTE, because Volkswagen closed the order book for this model in January 2018 due to excessive demand for cars. Your high mileage and large proportion of motorway driving would make the plug-in hybrid the priciest, though, because it won’t manage more than 30 miles before its battery is flat, and then you're simply driving an overweight petrol-engined Golf. That’s why the GTE got just 34.1mpg in our True MPG test.

Model 1.0 TSI Match e-Golf 1.6 TDI Match  
List price £21,705 £30,340* £23,300  
Target price £19,879 £29,743* £21,337  
Depreciation £11,100 £19,365 £13,650  
Insurance £1305 £2157 £1740  
Servicing £397 £507 £404  
Car tax £440 £0 £460  
Fuel £5454 £1293 £5539  
Total  £18,696 £23,322 £21,793  

* Price includes £3500 government electric car grant

Electric cars are becoming more mainstream by the day, and this trend is only going to accelerate as rules are introduced to limit the kind of vehicles allowed into major cities.

The main thing holding electric cars back remains range anxiety – the fear that you won’t have enough juice to get to where you’re going. However, with more and more electric cars capable of covering more than 200 miles between charges, this is becoming less of an issue.

An electric car also makes sense because it’s cheap to run and ideal for short journeys, such as the school run, trips to the shops or a brief commute.

So, which electric cars should you consider? Here, we count down our favourites and tell you the ones to avoid.

And, remember, before you start shopping for your new car, take a look at our new car buyer deals to see how much we could save you on your next car.


10. Hyundai Ioniq

New Hyundai Ioniq vs Toyota Prius

The Ioniq is really three cars in one; it's available as a conventional hybrid, a plug-in hybrid and as a fully electric car. The EV version we're including here has a range of 174 miles and enough torque to make acceleration feel brisk around town. The interior is nice, too, and our recommended Premium models get sat-nav and heated front seats as standard.

Read our full Hyundai Ioniq review, see our latest leasing offers


9. BMW i3

BMW i3

Even though it’s six years old now, it still looks incredibly futuristic outside, plus its smart interior makes the i3 one of the most appealing electric cars on sale today. Its groundbreaking use of super-light carbonfibre and aluminium offset the weight of the heavy battery pack that’s mounted beneath its floor, and a recent facelift means it’s better to drive than ever.

The latest changes to the i3 are so new that we haven’t yet put it through our Real Range test just yet – but BMW reckons that it’ll manage around 160 miles on a full charge in real-world conditions.

Read our full BMW i3 review, see our latest deals or see our leasing offers


8. Tesla Model X

Tesla Model X

On paper, Tesla's all-electric family SUV seems to be the dream combination, offering the luxury of a Range Rover Sport with the green credentials of an electric car. In practice, its low running costs and practical interior are hard to fault, and even the entry-level 75D versions aren't short on pace, but parts of its interior do look a little low-rent.

Read our full Tesla Model X review and see our latest deals

Next: more of our favourite electric vehicles >

Page 1 of 4

Best electric cars 2019 - and the ones to avoid

Electric cars are becoming more mainstream by the day and this trend is only going to accelerate as rules are introduced to limit the kind of vehicles allowed into major cities.

The main thing holding electric cars back remains range anxiety – the fear that you won’t have enough juice to get to where you’re going. However, with more and more electric cars capable of covering more than 200 miles between charges, this is becoming less of an issue.

An electric car also makes sense because it’s cheap to run and ideal for short journeys, such as the school run, trips to the shops or a brief commute.

So, which electric cars should you consider? Here, we count down our favourites and tell you the ones to avoid.

And, remember, before you start shopping for your new car, take a look at our new car buyer deals to see how much we could save you on your next car.


10. Hyundai Ioniq

New Hyundai Ioniq vs Toyota Prius

The Ioniq is really three cars in one – it's available as a conventional hybrid, a plug-in hybrid and as a fully electric car. The EV version we're including here has a range of 174 miles, and enough torque to make acceleration feel brisk around town. The interior is nice, too, and our recommended Premium models get sat-nav and heated front seats as standard.

Read our full Hyundai Ioniq review, see our latest leasing offers


9. BMW i3

BMW i3

Even though it’s six-years old now, it still looks incredibly futuristic outside plus its smart interior makes the i3 one of the most appealing electric cars on sale today. Its groundbreaking use of super-light carbonfibre and aluminium offset the weight of the heavy battery pack that’s mounted beneath its floor, and a recent facelift means it’s better to drive than ever.

The latest changes to the i3 are so new that we haven’t yet put it through our Real Range test just yet - but BMW reckons that it’ll manage around 160 miles on a full charge in real-world conditions.

Read our full BMW i3 review, see our latest deals or see our leasing offers


8. Tesla Model X

Tesla Model X

On paper, Tesla's all-electric family SUV seems to be the dream combination, offering the luxury of a Range Rover Sport with the green credentials of an electric car. In practice, its low running costs and practical interior are hard to fault, and even the entry-level 75D versions aren't short on pace, but parts of its interior do look a little low-rent.

Read our full Tesla Model X review and see our latest deals

Next: more of our favourite electric vehicles >

Page 1 of 4

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