Used Volkswagen Golf long-term test review: report 1

The uber-competent VW Golf is a five-star family car, but can a used one rattle our contact lenses as much as a new one? We’ve got four months to find out...

Used Volkswagen Golf long-term test review

The car 2019 Volkswagen Golf 1.5 TSI EVO 130 Match Run by Mark Pearson, used cars editor

Why it’s here To find out if buying a used Golf makes financial sense, and to see if the soon-to-be-replaced Mk7 is still a five-star car

Needs to Add a bit of sparkle to suburban motoring, and cope admirably with a variety of uses, including daily commuting, motorway journeys, school runs and family life

Mileage 1560 List price new (2019) £21,885 Price new with options £24,570 Value now £18,950 Options fitted Atlantic Blue metallic paint (£595); Winter pack (£410); Keyless entry (£390); Rear-view camera (£345); Carpet mats (£85) Test economy 41.1mpg Official economy 47.3mpg

11 October – The Volkswagen Golf Match joins our fleet

Volkswagen Golf long-termer

Strict rules of Golf? A VW Golf will always be solid and capable, for one, and conservatively styled for a second – after all, every new generation has only ever been a gentle evolution of the old one. Other hatchbacks may come in with a fanfare and flex their muscles and pout prettily at the camera, but the Golf has always been the clever kid in glasses who revises for tests and gets on quietly with the homework.

Don’t think, though, that all Golfs have been good – over the years, some have been downright disappointing. The boxy Mk1 was a lightweight honey that turned around the company’s fortunes, but subsequent generations lost that youthful sparkle, and we had to wait until the Mk5 version of 2005 before a reinvigorated Golf could once again dance on its toes.

My new car is a Mk7, a generation launched in 2013 and so heavily updated in 2017 that’s it’s always been unofficially known by the moniker Mk7.5. This month sees the unveiling of a Mk8, so I was keen to run this car to see if an ageing Mk7 was still competitive. The car I’ve chosen is used, too, so I’ll be wanting to see if it offers better value than buying a new one.

Volkswagen Golf long-termer

My car is in our favourite spec: it’s a 1.5 TSI Evo 130 Match. This means that under its bonnet it has a bang-up-to-date 128bhp 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, incorporating VW’s clever cylinder-on-demand technology, which automatically shuts down two of the cylinders under low-load driving in order to save fuel and cut down on emissions. It also features an Eco mode that shuts the engine down completely when the car’s coasting. It seems to work, because my car’s official fuel consumption figure of 47.3mpg, recorded under the more modern and tougher WLTP tests, is a good one for a car in this class, and I shall be interested to see how close I can get to that figure in real-world use in the next few months.

Meanwhile, Match is about mid-way up the trim level ladder, and it’s well equipped. We’ve got 16in alloy wheels, a DAB radio, smartphone integration, electric windows and mirrors, and a sat-nav with an 8.0in touchscreen as well as the full complement of safety features, including adaptive cruise control and a driver alert system.

On top of that, my car has a few options added. First, there’s the Atlantic Blue metallic paintwork. Then there’s a Winter pack, which adds heated front seats and headlight washers. There’s also a keyless entry and start facility, which always proves a boon, followed by a mega-useful rear-view camera, another luxury once sampled it soon becomes very difficult to live without, and ending up with some very practical front and rear carpet mats.

New, these options would have boosted the price of my Golf from £21,885 to £24,570, but my example is six months old with 1500 miles on the clock and according to our online valuations calculator is worth £18,950, which is a useful saving on the new price. 

So what’s it like? Well, first impressions are of a spacious and smart interior with a decent amount of adjustability to the driver’s seat and steering wheel that means finding a good driving position is easy. Everything feels good to the touch, and the dashboard layout is entirely logical. There are plenty of useful storage spaces, too, including a large space below the central armrest and a small cubbyhole just behind the steering wheel ideal for storing keys or loose change.

Volkswagen Golf long-termer

All the controls both major and minor fall easily to hand and are smooth and linear in operation – the six-speed manual gearbox is not only sweet in operation, it’s a masterclass in weighting – a subject to which I shall have to return in future updates. Its gear ratios are well chosen, too, and this Golf, despite its economy bent and a slight pause in its power delivery low down, is delightfully smooth and seems to get along very well indeed.

So, the kid with the glasses may well be indomitable. I’ve covered a couple of hundred miles and the only thing that’s annoyed me so far is a slight noise when the brakes are softly applied. Oh, and there was a leaf caught in the windscreen guttering. Other than that, it looks like being a splendid few months…   

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