Used Volkswagen Golf Hatchback 1998 - 2004 review

Category: Family car

Section: Our recommendations

1998 - 2004 review
Volkswagen Golf Hatchback (97 - 06)
  • Volkswagen Golf Hatchback (97 - 06)
  • Volkswagen Golf Hatchback (97 - 06)
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Our recommendations

Which used Volkswagen Golf hatchback should I buy?

There are three- and five-door versions, and a bewildering mixture of engines and trims. Petrols include a 1.4, 1.6 (100bhp and 105bhp) 1.8, 1.8 turbo (150bhp and 180bhp), 2.0, 2.3 V5, 2.8 V6 and 3.2 V6. Then there are the diesels: a non-turbo 1.9, and turbocharged 1.9s tuned to deliver 90bhp, 100bhp, 115bhp, 130bhp and 150bhp.

If that little lot starts to make you go blind, just remember this series of numbers and letters, 130bhp TDI - that's our favourite engine because of its extra muscle and minimal thirst.

Among the petrols, pass on the 1.4. The 1.8T has good mid-range punch and the V5 and V6 are swift, but the 1.6 has a better mix of performance and value. Of the hot versions, the GTI is underwhelming, but the high-performance R32 is a cracker.

Equipment levels improved over time, so you're best off buying as late a car as possible. All gained ISOFIX child seat mountings in June 1999, and air-con became standard on most models in January 2000, but a three-point third rear seat belt was optional for most of the model's life.