Volkswagen Golf review

Category: Family car

Section: Performance & drive

Volkswagen Golf 2021 rear panning
  • 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
  • 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
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In this section:
  • Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
  • Suspension and ride comfort
  • Handling
  • Noise and vibration

Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

When it comes to engine choices for the Volkswagen Golf, you could consider the more affordable 128bhp 1.5 TSI 130, but we think the more muscular 148bhp 1.5 TSI 150 makes the most sense out of the petrol range. It’s noticeably swifter getting up to motorway speeds (0-62mph comes in a sprightly 8.5sec), or when overtaking that tractor you've got stuck behind. If you only do urban routes, though, the 108bhp 1.0 TSI 110 should suffice, thanks to plenty of urgency low in the rev range, so it has plenty of poke for the cut and thrust of city traffic.

Those after efficiency will want to turn their attention to the mild hybrid 1.0 eTSI and 148bhp 1.5 eTSI or plug-in hybrid 1.4 TSI eHybrid. Where the eTSI variants only use a small electric motor for a power boost, the PHEV eHybrid can be driven on electric power alone for around 44 miles (according to official Volkswagen numbers). Thanks to their electric motors, all three of the hybrids have instant power from a standstill and they pull well at low revs. They also feel fairly brisk during normal driving but the mild hybrid eTSI versions require you to work them quite hard to get the most out of them.

If performance is your priority, you’ll want to check out our dedicated reviews of the Volkswagen Golf GTI or the plug-in hybrid Volkswagen Golf GTE.

Suspension and ride comfort

On its standard suspension, the Golf rides potholes and ridges around town pretty adeptly and with similar ease to the Mercedes A-Class. At higher speeds it can get a little unsettled over minor imperfections, shimmying from side to side in a mildly irritating, but not downright annoying, manner. The BMW 1 Series is certainly firmer, but it's also better tied down on motorways and A-roads. 

Alternatively, you can opt for the adaptive DCC suspension on any trim and gain the ability to stiffen things up on demand.

Noise and vibration

The entry-level 1.0 TSI is one of the more refined three-cylinder engines out there, with little vibration and a muted soundtrack, while all of the 1.5 TSI petrol engines, including the eTSI 150 mild hybrid, make themselves heard when you rev the Golf beyond 2500rpm. The 1.5 TSI 130 is the only one that becomes coarse at higher revs and sends vibrations through to the inside of the car, although not as noticeably as the 2.0 TDI diesels. That said, the latter is still one of the smoother diesel engines in the class, whichever power output you pick.

When running solely on electricity in the eHybrid, the only thing you’ll hear is a small amount of suspension noise and a small amount of road noise. Regardless of which Golf you’re in, you’ll notice a fair amount of wind at road noise at 70mph; much more than you would in the cheaper Focus.

New car deals
Save up to £1,926
Target Price from £24,178
Save up to £1,926
or from £271pm
Swipe to see used and leasing deals
Nearly new deals
From £21,897
Leasing deals
From £286pm