Used Volkswagen Golf 2020-present review

Category: Family car

The latest Volkswagen Golf is smooth and sophisticated and comfortable to ride in – it's a great all-rounder

Volkswagen Golf 2021 Mk8 front tracking
  • Volkswagen Golf 2021 Mk8 front tracking
  • 2020 Volkswagen Golf dashboard
  • 2020 Volkswagen Golf touchscreen
  • Volkswagen Golf 2021 rear panning
  • Volkswagen Golf 2020 RHD rear end detail
  • 2020 Volkswagen Golf rear seats
  • 2020 Volkswagen Golf touchscreen
  • Volkswagen Golf 2021 rear panning
  • Volkswagen Golf 2020 RHD rear end detail
  • Volkswagen Golf 2021 Mk8 front tracking
  • 2020 Volkswagen Golf dashboard
  • 2020 Volkswagen Golf touchscreen
  • Volkswagen Golf 2021 rear panning
  • Volkswagen Golf 2020 RHD rear end detail
  • 2020 Volkswagen Golf rear seats
  • 2020 Volkswagen Golf touchscreen
  • Volkswagen Golf 2021 rear panning
  • Volkswagen Golf 2020 RHD rear end detail
Used Volkswagen Golf 2020-present review
Star rating

What's the used Volkswagen Golf hatchback like?

Very few sensibly priced cars are true icons – instantly recognisable to even the most casual observer, and as welcome in Biarritz as on the school run. The Volkswagen Golf, though, is one of them.

Since 1974, this exceptional all-rounder has been a high-quality family car that has succeeded by being thoroughly competent at whatever it sets out to achieve without ever going to extremes.


The latest Volkswagen Golf is smooth and sophisticated, and comfortable to ride in – it's a great all-rounder. Reliability is a little mixed, however.

  • Comfortable ride
  • Neat handling
  • Impressive mild-hybrid engines
  • Fiddly infotainment system
  • Some rivals are more spacious
  • Still quite pricey
  • Reliability mixed

Plenty of people seem to agree: it has long been Europe’s best-selling car. Forever solid, capable and recognisably a Golf, every new generation has only ever been a gentle evolution of the old one.

This is the Mk8 version, launched in 2020, and it takes all that’s made the preceding cars so admirable and adds a crisply styled new suit, hybridised engines, sharper driving characteristics and some more up-to-date safety and interior tech. As with previous versions, you can have it as a hot hatch –the VW Golf GTI – or a slightly more practical VW Golf estate.

Engines: Under the bonnet is a pretty decent range of engines. The petrols start with a 108bhp 1.0-litre eTSI, and progress through a 1.4 TSI, a 1.4 TSI eHybrid, a 128bhp 1.5 TSI 130, a 148bhp 1.5 eTSI 150 hybrid, a 242bhp 2.0 TSI hot-shot GTI version, a 2.0 TSI 300 R and all the way up to a range-topping 2.0 TSI 320 R model. Diesels include a 113bhp 2.0 TDI 115, a 148bhp 2.0 TDI 150 and a 2.0 TDI 200 GTD.

Trims and equipment: As far as trims go, entry-level Life comes with standard kit such as 16in alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights, front and rear parking sensors, ambient lighting and keyless start, as well as a 10.25in digital instrument display and 10.0in touchscreen infotainment system with sat-nav.

Wireless phone charging, a wi-fi hotspot and a three-year subscription to VW’s We Connect Plus services are also thrown in from new, as is ‘Car-to-X’ technology, which will eventually allow the Golf to 'communicate' with road infrastructure and other cars around it. A comprehensive suite of standard active safety technology completes the tally.

Active trim essentially adds a Winter Pack to entry-level Life because you get heated front seats and steering wheel, along with three-zone climate control, multi-coloured ambient interior lighting and rear privacy glass.

Style has 17in alloys, adaptive LED 'Plus' headlights, upgraded seats and upholstery, additional ambient lighting, decorative wood inserts and three-zone climate control.

R-Line adds a few more toys and sharper styling, while there are separate GTE, GTD, GTI and GTI Clubsport trims for the plug-in hybrid, sporty diesel and petrol-powered super-sports versions.

Ride and handling: On the road, the 1.5 TSI 130 is sweet, as is the more muscular 1.5 eTSI 150. The more powerful engine is noticeably swifter getting up to motorway speeds, though (0-62mph comes in a sprightly 8.5sec).

The 1.0 eTSI 110 hybrid is good in town thanks to plenty of low-down punch. It uses the same mild-hybrid tech as the 1.5 eTSI. The engine is assisted by a small electric motor that helps it pull even more strongly from low revs than the non-hybrid equivalent. Both cars feel quite brisk when you work them hard, and the automatic gearbox is responsive when you ask for a quick burst of pace.

Diesel fans, meanwhile, will enjoy how strong the entry-level 2.0 TDI 110 feels at low revs. It makes for relaxed progress when you’re not in a hurry. The GTD is certainly brisk, if not quite hot-hatch quick.

So far, there are relatively few GTI, R and GTE versions on the used market, but we will cover those versions on these pages at a later date.

On its standard suspension, the Golf rides potholes and ridges well but at higher speeds it can get a little unsettled over minor imperfections. If you opt for a ‘150’ engine and above, you get a more sophisticated rear suspension set-up that makes the ride less fidgety. R-Line and GTD models get lowered sports suspension that’s noticeably firmer, but still perfectly acceptable.

The standard Golf has three main suspension settings: Comfort, Normal and Sport. In Comfort, it's one of the smoothest-riding cars in the class, dealing with craggy roads exceedingly well.

Interior and practicality: Whatever your size or shape, the Volkswagen Golf has plenty of adjustments in seat height and steering wheel rake and reach, so you should be able to find a driving position to suit you.

Every Golf comes with a 10.0in touchscreen infotainment system that’s mounted high up so you don't have to look too far from the road to use it. The graphics are sharp and there are lots of helpful standard features, including wireless phone charging, built-in sat-nav, Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration.

It’s a shame ease of use wasn’t prioritised over making the infotainment look swish, though. Some of the menus are confusingly arranged, and to make matters worse, there are no physical shortcut buttons to take you quickly from one menu to the next. The result is that you’re often taking your eyes off the road momentarily just to perform basic actions, such as changing the interior temperature.

There's plenty of head room up front in the Volkswagen Golf, and its seats go back far enough to accommodate people with long legs. The interior dimensions allow a pair of six-footers to sit relatively comfortably in the back, where head room is very generous but leg room isn't outstanding.

There boot is big enough for the weekly food shop and you can just about squeeze in a small set of golf clubs or a fold-up baby buggy. One the whole, boot space is average for the family car class.

If you're interested in buying a used VW Golf or any of the cars we've mentioned, head over to our Used Cars For Sale pages to find lots of cars listed at a great price.

2020 Volkswagen Golf dashboard

Ownership cost

What used Volkswagen Golf hatchback will I get for my budget?

Prices for the Mk8 Golf are holding steady, but that doesn't mean there aren't some good buys out there. Starting prices are around £16,000 for a 1.0 or 1.5 2020 petrol Golf, rising to around £20,000 for a higher-spec or larger-engined car of the same vintage.

Meanwhile, 2023 examples tend to go for upwards of £22,000.

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How much does it cost to run a Volkswagen Golf hatchback?


According to the latest WLTP tests, the 1.0 petrol Volkswagen Golf averages 52.3mpg, the 1.0 eTSI 54.3mpg, the 1.5 130 52.3mpg, the 1.5 eTSI 51.4mpg, the 1.5 150 51.4mpg and the 2.0 TDI 115 diesel 62.8mpg. 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.

Road Tax

All Golfs of this generation will have been registered after the road tax changes of April 2017 came into force will pay annual VED at the flat rate, currently £180 per year – that's the same for all petrol and diesel cars. Hybrid examples attract a £170 fee.

Running costs

Servicing is reasonably priced. It won’t be quite as cheap as, say, a Ford Focus or Vauxhall Astra, but compares well with most other rivals.

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

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, including 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.

2020 Volkswagen Golf touchscreen

Our recommendations

Which used Volkswagen Golf hatchback should I buy?

We think the more muscular 148bhp 1.5 eTSI 150 makes the most sense out of the VW Golf range. It’s noticeably swifter getting up to motorway speeds (0-62mph comes in a sprightly 8.5sec).

We'd also 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.

Our favourite Volkswagen Golf: 1.5 eTSI 150 Life

Volkswagen Golf 2021 rear panning


What alternatives should I consider to a used Volkswagen Golf hatchback?

The Ford Focus is good fun to drive and has been one of the best-sellers in the family car class for many years. However, it isn’t quite as comfortable as the Volkswagen Golf, nor does it have such a classy interior.

The same can be said of the Vauxhall Astra, although it does offer exceptional value for money as a used buy because of its heavy depreciation. It’s also comfortable, roomy and, with the right engine, reasonably economical.

If you want a Golf with a little extra flair, you could try the Seat Leon. It’s sharper to drive but its interior doesn’t feel quite as classy as that of the Golf. Second-hand prices are highly competitive, making it one of our favourite used cars in this class.

That's also true of the Skoda Octavia – the car’s big plus point is the space it offers. While it’s similar in size to the Golf, it has a much bigger boot and more room in the rear seats.

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If you're interested in buying a used VW Golf or any of the cars we've mentioned, head over to our Used Cars For Sale pages to find lots of cars listed at a great price.

Volkswagen Golf 2020 RHD rear end detail