VW Golf: new vs used

The latest VW Golf is more high tech but costs more, too. So should you go for the new model or a top value version of the outgoing car?

John Evans
Oct 5, 2021
Volkswagen Golf front three quarters view

The new eighth generation Golf is now on sale and marks a bold change of direction for the model. Always the solid and dependable family hatchback, this new version aims to ramp things up in the technology stakes.

However, some have argued that it isn’t necessarily an improvement over the previous model. There’s the suspicion that Volkswagen has cut a few corners in its development, while some of the technology doesn’t work quite as well as it should. It’s also much more expensive than its predecessor with the cheapest version, the Golf Life 1.5 TSI 130 5dr, costing from £23,860. This compares with £20,915 for the cheapest outgoing Golf model, the 1.0 TSI 115 S 5dr.

Go for a pre-registered or nearly-new model, however, and you could save thousands more - or simply get yourself into a much better specification car. A facelifted 2017 Golf Mk7 starts from £12,990 on BuyaCar, so you could save yourself around £10,000 by buying used.

Opt for a one-year old model and you could save yourself a few thousand pounds compared with the price new; BuyaCar has early Mk8 Golfs from £16,490. If this model is a little basic for you, spend a few thousand more and you have plenty of choice from more desirable versions - while still having lots of change compared with going for even the cheapest new Golf.

The question, though, is whether these outgoing seventh generation models are as appealing as the new Golf or is the new model the one to buy, despite the higher prices? Keep reading to find out which version of this upmarket hatchback best suits your needs.

New 2020 Volkswagen Golf mk8

Note, ‘new’ and not ‘all-new’. The fact is, under the skin, the Mk8 Golf is closely related to the Mk7. The body is slightly longer, wider and taller, but there's the same distance between the wheels - one of the key factors in determining how much interior space there is.

There’s a choice of 1.0-litre 1.5-litre petrol engines, in regular as well as hybrid forms (those cost around £2,000 more), and 2.0-litre diesels. On the road, it feels a little more sporty and less relaxed than the Mk7 Golf.

It looks sharper, too, but is still recognisably a Golf. All versions have alloy wheels, bright LED headlights and parking sensors. Interior quality is excellent but space is roughly what it was before, which means it’s roomy and practical for the size of car. Boot space is merely average for the family hatchback class, but both old and new versions of the Golf are also available as roomy estates.

In place of traditional dials there are 10.3-inch digital dials - which some drivers value for their configurability and others dislike for being less crisp and clear than analogue gauges - plus a 10-inch touchscreen media system. There’s Wi-Fi connectivity and also 'Car2X' technology that can link the Golf to other Car2X-equipped vehicles enabling them to share real-time traffic information.

Safety and assistance features, meanwhile, include road sign display, lane assist and front assist to keep you in your lane and prevent you from hitting things in front - plus an electronic differential lock to improve grip on slippery roads.

Underneath the high-performance GTI, R (both petrol), GTE (plug-in hybrid) and GTD (diesel) models, there are four trim levels: Life, Active, Style and R-Line. As well as the technology mentioned above, Life features adaptive cruise control, alloy wheels and automatic wipers. Active, a new trim for 2021, adds 30-colour ambient lighting, multi-zone climate control and heated seats. Style gets upgraded headlights and bigger wheels, while R-Line brings a sporty flavour with a body kit and sports seats.

There’s no electric Golf this time around, but the Volkswagen ID.3 is a similar size to the Golf and offers much more range than the old e-Golf.

2013-2019 Golf mk7

The Mk7 Golf was a big improvement on the Mk6 with an all-new chassis, a larger body offering a roomier interior and bigger boot, and a package of advanced safety features.

At launch, engines ranged from 1.2 and 1.4 TSI petrols to 1.6 and 2.0-litre TDI diesels. More powerful GTD, GTI and four-wheel-drive R versions followed, and later the plug-in hybrid GTE and all-electric e-Golf. A 1.0 TSI petrol arrived in 2015, replacing the 1.2 TSI.

A 'facelift' update came in 2017 when the car received some visual tweaks inside and out, with changes to the media system also introduced. The 1.5 TSI Evo engine with cylinder deactivation - which turns off half of the engine under gentle driving to boost fuel economy - also joined the range, replacing the older 1.4 TSI.

Throughout, the most popular trim was Match (alloy wheels, better rear suspension for a more comfortable ride, and climate control). As the end approached it was replaced by Match Edition, itself based on SE and packed with kit including tinted rear windows and sat-nav.

The cheapest S was too basic for most buyers, although it did get Bluetooth and air-conditioning, plus autonomous emergency braking. R-Line, sitting above Match, brought sportier looks and exclusive upholstery.

2020 Golf mk8 vs 2013-2019 Golf mk7

We may look back on the Mk7 as the pinnacle of the traditional Golf. It’s good to drive but above all, it’s refined and comfortable. It’s also safe with all versions - at the end of its life in 2019, at least - having automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control - which maintains a safe distance behind the car in front, whether it slows down or speeds up - and parking sensors.

Build quality is excellent while the engine range is wide – with everything from 60mpg diesels and 50mpg petrols to the high-performance GTI and even a 300hp four-wheel-drive super-speedy version called the R. To cap it all, prices on BuyaCar begin at £9,001 or £188 per month for a Mk7 Golf, making it something of a bargain.

The Mk8 can’t compete with prices like that - at least, yet. Instead, by leaving much of the Mk7’s DNA intact, it brings the promise of cutting-edge technology and advanced engines to a very popular recipe. The new, screen-dominated dashboard is sure to appeal to younger buyers but it remains to be seen whether it is safe to use on the move, or a distraction that is a backwards move over the older model. The air-conditioning sliders are more difficult to use while driving than the old car’s dials, too.

You could choose three- and five-door versions of the last-generation Golf, whereas all Mk8 models come with five doors.

Which to buy – new or used VW Golf?

The fact that the new Golf is, fundamentally, the same as the Mk7 makes this question even more relevant. As always, the answer is likely to be decided by your budget and how much you want a new car. On price and value an older, cheaper Mk7 has the new Mk8 Golf beaten fair and square. We also prefer how the technology works on the old model, but that is entirely subjective.

That said there are still huge savings to be made on nearly new Mk8 Golfs. For example, a 2020 1.5 TSI Evo Life, which has only covered a few thousand miles, could be yours for under £20,000 - a good discount on a brand-new equivalent.

VOLKSWAGEN GOLF MK7 BUYERS' GUIDE

Nearly new VW Golf mk7 deals

There are savings to be had on nearly new models on BuyaCar, often with just a handful of miles on the clock and that all-important new car smell. Prices for the latest version of the Golf start at £21,499 or £313 per month.

Volkswagen Golf
Nearly new Volkswagen Golf

BuyaCar prices from £21,499
Monthly finance from £313*

Volkswagen Golf GTD/GTE/GTI
Nearly new Volkswagen Golf GTD/GTE/GTI

BuyaCar prices from £35,000
Monthly finance from £483*

Nearly new Volkswagen Golf R

BuyaCar prices Limited stock

 

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