Costs & verdict
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
As befits its place bridging the budget and premium ends of the market, the Golf slots roughly in the middle 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 onto its value well, too; depreciation is 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 mild hybrid 1.5 eTSI 150 averaged more than 42mpg on a mix of roads – that's a much better figure that 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. If you really need an automatic gearbox, we'd stick with the 1.5 TSI 150, even though the 1.0 TSI is a bit more economical. As for the diesels, the 2.0 TDI 115’s trip computer regularly recorded an average economy figure in excess of 65mpg during our testing.
Equipment, options and extras
We'd stick with 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 in 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.
Volkswagen finished at the lower end of the mid-pack in the 2020 What Car? Reliability Survey, in 20th place out of the 31 manufacturers. That put it above Audi and Mercedes, but below other rival brands, including BMW, Ford, Mazda, Seat and Skoda.
Like most Volkswagens, 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, lane-keeping assistance, a driver fatigue monitor, traffic sign recognition and something called Car2X. The latter feature allows all cars fitted with this feature to share information on the traffic conditions and any hazards within a radius of 800m, and send will you 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 the A Class's, though.
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