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New Volkswagen Golf vs used Volkswagen Golf: which is best?

The new Volkswagen Golf might be stuffed with all the latest technology, but is it a better buy than its used forebear, which is available for less money?...

New Volkswagen Golf vs Used Volkswagen Golf

Oh, dear. If you've read our Golf vs Focus vs Leon test or seen Doug Revolta's latest Golf vs Leon video you'll know that the Seat Leon has finally vanquished the VW Golf.

Indeed, we've noticed an uplift in people viewing the review of the used 2012-2020 VW Golf (Mk7), suggesting that some buyers are wondering whether or not it would be better going for the older car, rather than the new one.

But surely, the new one has to be better because it has all the latest technology? Well, yes, there's no ignoring just how sophisticated the mk8 Golf is. For example, it's fitted with Car2X technology – a system that communicates important safety information with other Car2X-equipped vehicles within 800 metres to warn drivers of hazards. 

However, a year old Mk7 Golf will be cheaper to buy, so perhaps that'll offset the fact it's missing out on some of the latest new car technology. Read on to find out.

Volkswagen Golf 1.5 TSI Evo 130 Life  List Price: £23,900 Target price: £22,460 Official fuel economy: 53.3mpg (WLTP) Emissions: 121g/km CO2 Power: 128bhp 0-62mph: 9.2sec Top speed: 133mph 

Volkswagen Golf 1.5 TSI Evo 150 Match Edition Price new: £24,120 Price today: £19,731* Official fuel economy: 49.7mpg (WLTP) Emissions: 129g/km CO2 Power: 148bhp 0-62mph: 8.4sec Top speed: 134mph 

*Price today is based on a 2019 model with average mileage and full service history according to the What Car? Valuation service, correct at time of writing

New Volkswagen Golf vs used Volkswagen Golf – interior & equipment

Build quality, equipment, ease of use

We'll begin with looking at the interior, because this is where the biggest changes have been made. Step inside the new Golf 8 and you'll find very few actual buttons; most of the major controls have been absorbed into the large central touchscreen. There are some touch-sensitive pads below the screen to adjust the temperature with, but you'll find that these aren't as easy to use on the move as you might initially think, because you'll often have to avert your eyes from the road to check you're touching either the right area of the screen or dashboard. If you go for the optional Discover Navigation Pro system, you could bypass all this and ask the car to carry out various tasks with voice commands, but that is a very expensive extra.

New Volkswagen Golf vs used Volkswagen Golf - interior

We've stuck with the entry-level Life trim level because it gets you plenty of equipment anyway, despite being the cheapest version. There's single-zone climate control, automatic wipers and lights, adaptive cruise control, ambient interior lighting and a digital instrument cluster. 

Apart from a digital instrument cluster (this was an option when new), the Match Edition trim level of the old Golf 7 almost matches the newer car for kit. Its central infotainment screen is smaller, but it provides dedicated shortcuts that make it far easier to use than one in the new Golf. There are also traditional rotary dials for the heater, making adjusting fan speed or temperature a cinch. 

There's little to complain about when it comes to interior quality in the old Golf 7; most areas are covered with soft-touch material and even the door pockets are lined to prevent what's inside from rattling around. The current Golf 8 has yielding surfaces too, but in fewer places: the rear door cards are all hard plastic now (except for the fabric on the armrests) and the pockets are only lined on the sides that you can see. A bit of a backwards step some might say, especially because the new car is more expensive than the one it replaces.

New Volkswagen Golf vs used Volkswagen Golf – space & practicality

Driving position, practicality, visibility

The interior dimensions of the recently introduced VW Golf 8 haven't altered much over its predecessor. There's more rear head room in the old car, but a greater amount of leg room for those in the back of the latest one, so we can pretty much conclude that it's a draw for the two in this area.

This means that the exceptionally tall will be fine in the front and there would need to be two very broad-shouldered rugby players aboard for there to be any shoulder rubbing. Six-footers will also be fine in the back of either: just don't expect to be able to go far with a third adult in the middle because both cars have a central hump that gets in the way of your feet.

New Volkswagen Golf vs used Volkswagen Golf - rear seat space

You won't find any difference between the two for luggage capacity; we could fit five standard carry-on suitcases into each. Both also have an adjustable height boot floor that removes the annoying step in the floor when the back bench is folded down, and also allows you to keep valuable items hidden away.

Next: What are they like to drive? >>

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