Volkswagen Golf review

Category: Family car

Section: Costs & verdict

Available fuel types:petrol, hybrid, diesel
Available colours:
Volkswagen Golf 2021 RHD infotainment
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  • Volkswagen Golf 2021 Mk8 front tracking
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  • Volkswagen Golf 2021 RHD infotainment
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  • Volkswagen Golf 2020 RHD front end detail
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  • Volkswagen Golf 2021 RHD dashboard detail
  • Volkswagen Golf 2021 RHD instrument cluster
  • Volkswagen Golf 2021 RHD boot open
  • Volkswagen Golf 2021 Mk8 front tracking
  • Volkswagen Golf 2021 rear panning
  • Volkswagen Golf 2021 dashboard
  • Volkswagen Golf 2021 rear seats
  • Volkswagen Golf 2021 RHD infotainment
  • Volkswagen Golf 2021 rear cornering
  • Volkswagen Golf 2021 RHD front left tracking
  • Volkswagen Golf 2021 RHD left panning
  • Volkswagen Golf 2021 RHD front right static
  • Volkswagen Golf 2021 RHD rear right static
  • Volkswagen Golf 2020 RHD front end detail
  • Volkswagen Golf 2020 RHD rear end detail
  • Volkswagen Golf 2020 RHD steering wheel detail
  • Volkswagen Golf 2021 RHD dashboard detail
  • Volkswagen Golf 2021 RHD instrument cluster
  • Volkswagen Golf 2021 RHD boot open
RRP £23,360What Car? Target Price from£22,123
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Costs & verdict

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

The Volkswagen Golf slots roughly in the middle of its range of rivals on price. So, for a cash buyer, it’s pricier than the Skoda Scala and a little more expensive than the more popular versions of the Ford Focus and Seat Leon, but it's cheaper than the Audi A3, BMW 1 Series and Mercedes A-Class. The Golf is predicted to hold on to its value well, with depreciation expected to be slower than for an equivalent A-Class and more in line with that of the A3 and 1 Series.  

All the petrol engines offer competitive CO2 emissions and real-world fuel economy should be similarly good. In our tests, the 1.5 eTSI 150 averaged more than 42mpg on a mix of roads – much better than you can expect from a BMW 118i automatic. However, despite its 'mild hybrid' tag, this more expensive automatic-only engine is less economical (officially) than the regular 1.5 TSI 150 with a six-speed manual. We’d still stick with the 1.5 eTSI 150 over the smaller 1.0 eTSI if you really need a Golf with an automatic gearbox.

As for the diesels, the 2.0 TDI 115’s trip computer regularly recorded an average economy figure of more than 65mpg during our testing, with even the sporty GTD managing around 50mpg.

Equipment, options and extras

We'd stick with the Golf's entry-level Life trim. It comes with all you really need, including single-zone climate control, 16in alloy wheels, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear knob, automatic lights and wipers, adaptive cruise control, and all the infotainment, visibility and parking aids we've discussed in the previous sections. 

Style and R-Line trims add a few more toys and sharper styling, but aren't really worth their price hikes. If you want more toys for your money, have a look at rivals such as the Mazda 3, Skoda Octavia and Toyota Corolla.

If you’re drawn to the frugal performance of the GTD, it gets 18in alloy wheels, sporty bumpers, three-zone climate control and keyless entry. It's rather pricey, though, especially when compared to the VW Golf GTI, which is not much more expensive.

Volkswagen Golf 2021 RHD infotainment

Reliability

Volkswagen finished at the lower end of the mid-pack in the latest What Car? Reliability Survey, in 20th place out of 31 manufacturers. That put it above Audi and Mercedes, but below other rival brands, including BMW, Ford, Mazda, Seat and Skoda.

Like most VWs, the Golf comes with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty and one year’s roadside assistance. That's not exceptional these days, falling short of the five-year warranties that Hyundai, Renault and Toyota offer, let alone the seven years of cover provided by Kia.

Safety and security

Every Golf comes with automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane-keeping assistance, a driver fatigue monitor, traffic sign recognition and something called Car2X. All cars fitted with Car2X share information on traffic conditions and any hazards within a radius of 800 metres so you can be sent an early warning of any dangers that lie ahead. 

The Golf achieved a full five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, with excellent category scores that all but matched the best cars in the class, such as the Mercedes A-Class, for adult and child protection. The protection for pedestrians and vulnerable road users isn’t as good as the A-Class's, though.

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Overview

There’s no doubt that the VW Golf is still a highly recommendable option in the family car class, thanks in part to its solid blend of ride and handling and the frugality promised by its petrol engines, especially the 1.5 TSI 150. But there are cheaper rivals that are more spacious inside and better to drive, such as the Ford Focus and Seat Leon, and premium rivals with better infotainment systems and higher-grade interiors, like the Audi A3, BMW 1 Series and Mercedes A Class.

  • Exceedingly comfortable ride with adaptive suspension
  • Tidy handling
  • Strong and frugal 1.5 TSI 150 engine
  • Frustratingly fiddly infotainment system is full of software bugs
  • Interior quality could be better
  • There are more spacious rivals

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