Volkswagen Golf

Volkswagen Golf review

Cost & verdict
Manufacturer price from:£18,765
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Cost & verdict

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Volkswagen Golf hatchback running costs

The Golf's on-the-road price starts below £20,000 and is very 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; Golfs look particularly strong after three years and could actually cost you less in the long run than cheaper alternatives if you're buying privately.

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 85 claiming over 50mpg (combined) and the 1.6-litre TDI 115 claiming 58.9mpg (combined) under WLTP testing. 

The Golf’s impressive official fuel economy figures also translate to 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 hatchback 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. It also 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 for SE Navigation. It has everything that SE has but, as the name suggests, brings sat-nav and extra online features. There's also Match trim, which sits just above SE Nav but adds a smattering of other goodies such as folding door mirrors, a 12V socket in the boot and Convenience Pack with automatic headlights and dimming interior mirror. It's only £150 or so more, too, so worth the extra money.

GT is the first of the sportier offerings, adding 17in alloy wheels, sports suspension, sports seats and a performance monitor that includes a lap timer and G-meter. Other additions are privacy glass and interior ambient lighting. R-line has even sportier looks inside and out.

The hotter GTD, GTI Performance 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.

And then there are the plug-in hybrid models: GTE and GTE Advance. These also have the 12.3in digital instruments and dual-zone climate control, along with everything else the GT trim has, with GTE Advance adding heated seats and 18in alloy wheels.

Finally, the all-electric e-Golf is based on SE trim, and features LED headlights, dual-zone climate control, a heated windscreen and a 9.2in touchscreen with sat-nav.

You won’t really 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

Volkswagen Golf hatchback reliability

The Golf finished sixth out of 14 cars in the Family Car segment of out 2018 What Car? Reliability Survey. However, Volkswagen as a brand didn’t do particularly well; it came 17th out of 31 in the manufacturers table.

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 cover 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 hatchback safety and security

Seven airbags are fitted as standard to all versions, including full-length curtain airbags and a driver’s knee airbag. 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 apply the brakes if it detects an impending collision with a car or pedestrian. This feature helped the Golf score well in its Euro NCAP crash test in 2012; it was awarded the maximum five-star rating.

You need to go for at least SE trim to get an alarm as standard, although security experts Thatcham Research still awarded the Golf five out of five for guarding against being stolen and four out of five for resistance to being broken into.

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Verdict

The Volkswagen Golf continues to be one of our favourite family cars. It's practical, great to drive and gets plenty of equipment options - there's also an endless list of engines, trims and accessories to suit every drivers need. It can't quite live up to the perceived luxury of the BMW 1 Series or Audi A3, but its cheaper price justifies everything about this package.

  • Brilliant to drive
  • Load of standard kit
  • Huge range to pick from
  • Skoda Octavia is bigger and cheaper
  • Infotainment system could be better
  • Interior quality not up to standard of rivals
Trims
There are 11 trims available for the Golf hatchback. Click to see details.See all versions
S
Entry-level S-trim isn’t lavishly equipped, but it does come with trinkets including ai...View trim
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£17,286
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SE
This adds 16in alloy wheels, front seat lumbar adjustment, a rear seat centre armrest...View trim
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£18,102
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Match
We have not written anything about this yet...View trim
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£18,919
Average Saving £1,626
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GT
This sportier trim offers bigger 17in alloy wheels, sports suspension, sports seats and...View trim
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£21,788
Average Saving £1,882
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R-Line
Mostly styling changes that include more aggressive-looking bumpers, lowered sports sus...View trim
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£23,412
Average Saving £2,028
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GTD BlueLine
We are yet to try out this variant...View trim
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£25,255
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GTD
On top of the GT trim on which it’s based, the GTD comes with an even sportier bodykit...View trim
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£27,613
Average Saving £2,402
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GTI Performance
The hotter GTI Performance features LED headlights, heated front seats, dual-zone clima...View trim
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£28,510
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GTE
Plug-in hybrid model comes with a 12.3in digital instrument display, dual-zone climate...View trim
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£29,339
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GTE Advance
Builds on the GTE trim, but adds sat-nav, heated seats and larger 18in alloy wheels....View trim
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£31,013
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e-Golf
The all-electric e-Golf is based on SE trim, but also adds LED headlights, dual-zone cl...View trim
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£32,752
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