VW lowered the Golf’s price in 2017, making it far more competitive against premium rivals, such as the BMW 1 Series and Audi A3. In fact it’s priced roughly in line with the Ford Focus, although you’ll still get more change from a comparably equipped Vauxhall Astra or Skoda Octavia. Don’t forget to factor in resale values though; the Golf’s look particularly strong after three years, so if you're buying privately it could actually cost you less in the long run than cheaper alternatives.
Insurance and servicing bills are no higher than the class average. What’s more, all versions offer good economy, with the 1.0 TSI 110 petrol promising up to a claimed 60.1mpg, and the 1.6 TDI 115 72.4mpg.
The Golf’s impressive official fuel economy figures also translate into low CO2 emissions, so it’s relatively cheap to run as a company car. Those strong resale values help keep leasing and PCP finance rates affordable, too.
Volkswagen Golf equipment
Entry-level S trim isn’t lavishly equipped but does come with trinkets including air-conditioning, four electric windows (five-door models only), height-adjustable front seats, a front centre armrest, a DAB radio, Bluetooth and an 8.0in colour touchscreen. You have to put up with wheel trims instead of alloy wheels, though.
SE trim looks rather more appealing. This adds 16in alloy wheels, front-seat lumbar adjustment, a rear-seat armrest, a ski hatch and a leather-trimmed steering wheel. And it adds other gadgets, such as Apple CarPlay, automatic lights and wipers, front and rear parking sensors, power-folding door mirrors and adaptive cruise control. However, we’d suggest climbing the next rung up the ladder and going to SE Navigation trim. It got everything that the SE has but, as the name suggests, brings sat-nav plus extra online features. And the additional cost should be mitigated by better resale values.
GT is the first of the sportier offerings, adding bigger 17in alloy wheels, sports suspension, sports seats and a Performance monitor, which includes a lap timer and G-meter. Other additions are privacy glass and interior ambient lighting. R-line gets even sportier looks inside and out. The hotter GTD, GTI and R models all feature LED headlights, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control and a 12.3in digital screen in place of analogue instruments; this displays lots of useful info including full-screen sat-nav maps. You also get sportier styling touches that hint at these models’ extra performance.
Next up are the plug-in hybrid models: GTE and GTE Advance. These also have the 12.3in digital instruments, dual-zone climate control, along with everything else the GT trim has, with the GTE Advance adding heated seats and 18in alloy wheels.
Finally the all-electric e-Golf is based on SE trim, plus LED headlights, dual-zone climate control, a heated windscreen and a 9.2in touchscreen with sat-nav.
You don’t need to add many options, but it's worth forking out for parking sensors on S trim and metallic paint on all models. If you go for SE or SE Navigation trim (our favourite) we'd recommend adding front foglights and climate control.
Volkswagen Golf reliability
Unfortunately, we don’t have much reliability data on this latest generation of Golf. The previous-generation (Mk6) model scored only average marks for mechanical dependability, while VW as a brand didn’t do particularly well in our most recent survey; it came 23rd out of the 37 brands.
Like most VWs, the Golf comes with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty and one year’s roadside assistance. This is comparable with the cover provided by most rivals, but falls short of the five-year warranties that Hyundai and Toyota offer, let alone the seven-year warranty provided by Kia. You can pay extra for an extended warranty that will cover your Golf for up to five years or 90,000 miles.
Volkswagen Golf safety & security
Seven airbags are fitted as standard to all versions, including full-length curtain airbags and a driver’s knee 'bag. Rear side airbags are available as an option on all five-door versions, and are worth considering if you regularly carry people in the back.
SE models and above also get automatic emergency braking which, at speeds below 19mph, can automatically applies the brakes if it detects an impending collision with a car or pedestrian. These features all helped the Golf score well in its Euro NCAP crash test in 2012: it was awarded the maximum five-star rating overall.
You need to go for at least SE trim to get an alarm as standard, although security experts Thatcham still awarded the Golf five-out-of-five for guarding against being stolen, and four-out-of-five for resisting being broken into.
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Entry-level S-trim isn’t lavishly equipped, but it does come with trinkets including air-conditioning, four electric windows (five-door model only), height-adjustable front seats, a front centre armrest, a DAB radio, Bluetooth and an 8.0in colour touchscreen, but you have to put up with wheel trims instead of alloy wheels.
This adds 16in alloy wheels, front seat lumbar adjustment, a rear seat centre armrest, a ski hatch and a leather-trimmed steering wheel. And it adds gadgets such as Apple CarPlay, automatic lights and wipers, front and rear parking sensors, power-folding door mirrors, adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking.
Our pick SE Navigation
We’d suggest the upgrade to SE Navigation trim. It has everything that SE trim has, but as the name suggests brings sat-nav plus extra online features. The additional cost should be mitigated by better resale values, too.
This sportier trim offers bigger 17in alloy wheels, sports suspension, sports seats and a performance monitor, which includes a lap timer and G-meter. Other additions over SE trim are privacy glass and interior ambient lighting.
Mostly styling changes that include more aggressive-looking bumpers, lowered sports suspension, twin oval exhaust tailpipes, black brake calipers and carbon-look interior trims .
On top of the GT trim on which it’s based, the GTD comes with an even sportier bodykit, LED headlights, lowered, sports suspension, a honeycombe front grille, heated front seats, heated windscreen, dual-zone climate control and a 12.3in digital instrument display.
Comes with everything that the GTD gets, plus with 18in alloy wheels, red brake calipers and red stitching on the sports steering wheel.
Top-spec model comes with all the trimmings of the GTI, plus 4Motion (four-wheel drive) and a 306bhp engine.
Plug-in hybrid model comes with a 12.3in digital instrument display, dual-zone climate control, along with everything else from the GT model.
Builds on the GTE trim, but adds sat-nav, heated seats and larger 18in alloy wheels.
The all-electric e-Golf is based on SE trim, but also adds LED headlights, dual-zone climate control, a heated windscreen and a 9.2in touchscreen with sat-nav.