VW Golf: new vs used

The 2020 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
Mar 16, 2020

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, it’s also much more expensive than its predecessor with the cheapest version, the Golf Life 1.5 TSI 130 5dr, costing from £23,875. 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.

Opt for a one-year old model and you could save yourself £7,000 compared with the price new; BuyaCar has one-year-old Golf 1.0 TSI S models from as little as £13,300. 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 VW 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 detemining how much interior space there is.

There’s a choice of 1.5-litre petrol engines, in regular as well as automatic 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.

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.

Until the new high-performance GTI (petrol), GTE (plug-in hybrid) and GTD (diesel) models arrive there are three trim levels: Life, Style (larger alloys, smarter lights, comfort-oriented sports seats, climate control) and R-Line (sports suspension, sports seats and body styling, and progressive steering, which requires fewer turns at low speeds for easy manouevring). Adaptive suspension is an option on all trims, allowing you to adjust the firmess of the ride.

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 eGolf. 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. 

Throughout, the most popular trim was Match (alloy wheels, better rear suspension for a more comfortable ride, 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.

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 around £8,000 (or £150 per month) for a 2014 Golf, making it something of a bargain.

The mk8 can’t compete with prices like that. 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.

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.

That said there are still huge savings to be made on nearly new mk7 Golfs. For example, a 2019 1.5 TSI Evo Match Edition - a well-equipped model with a reasonably punchy petrol engine - which has only covered a few thousand miles could be yours for just £18,500 - that's well over £5,000 less than the cheapest mk8.


Nearly new VW Golf mk7 deals

BuyaCar has thousands of mk7 Golfs for sale but more importantly, when it comes to comparing it with the mk8, there are many hundreds of nearly new ones registered in 2019. Prices for these cars start at £12,000 - around half what the cheapest new mk8 costs.

VW Golf 1.6 TDI S 5dr

2019/19, 100 miles, £16,850

Rack up many thousands of miles and want the most economical car for your money? This practically new Golf could fit the bill. This lowest-powered diesel is comfortable and should prove very economical on the motorway, shrinking your fuel bills.

This is a 65mpg car that’s decently equipped and on the strength of this example, excellent value for money at practically £7,000 less than the very cheapest new Golf, despite having covered only 100 miles.

VW Golf 2.0 TDI GT 5dr

2019/69, 999 miles, £18,499

VW’s 2.0-litre diesel diesel engine is fantastically economical, punchy and refined, making it a great choice if you cover reasonably high miles and so want to go for diesel rather than petrol. Unlike the 1.6-litre diesel above, this one is surprisingly powerful, making it a great cruiser and equally good at overtaking effortlessly on country roads.

GT trim brings sat-nav, chrome and piano black trim and tonnes of other standard equipment. There’s a lot of noise about diesels falling out of favour but on the used market they’re still very popular and especially if you are a high-mileage driver, this 2.0 TDI could be just the job.

VW Golf 1.5 TSI Evo Match 5dr

2019/69, 100 miles, £17,995

The 1.5 TSI may be a petrol engine, but its party trick is that it can shut down two of its cylinders when driving gently to improve fuel economy. That means that if you have a relaxed driving style, you could get the kind of economy you'd normally expect from a diesel engine.

Match trim is the optimum specification, offering good value and pretty much all of the standard equipment you could want. Frankly, it’s hard to think of a more capable and rounded version.

VW Golf 1.5 TSI Evo Match Edition 5dr

2019/69, 10 miles, £18,749

This Match Edition model is worth singling out because the trim is so good - offering tonnes of standard kit for a very good value price. It was a run-out special edition based on SE and packed with features including dual-zone climate control, heated seats and tinted windows. It makes buying a more expensive, new entry-level mk8 hard to justify.

VW Golf 1.0 TSI 115 Match 5dr

2019/69, 500 miles, £16,799

The 1.0 TSI is a three-cylinder petrol engine which sounds small but in this 115hp guise it is genuinely punchy and capable of cruising comfortably at high speeds. It actually feels far more powerful than that 115hp figure suggests, too.

Fuel economy is impressive so if you like the idea of high fuel economy but don't cover many miles - and so can't justify the price premium often needed to get a diesel - this 1.0 TSI could be for you.

VW Golf 2.0 TSI GTI Performance DSG 5dr

2019/69, 700 miles, £28,495

Compared with the prices being asked for the new mk8, this 2.0 TSI GTI looks a steal - especially since it's covered well under 1,000 miles. In this more powerful GTI Performance specification, the mk7 GTI is a real flyer, proving fast and fun to drive, while the slick 'DSG' automatic gearbox provides rapid gearchanges but is equally capable shuffling along in traffic.


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