Volkswagen Golf (2013-present)

The VW Golf is the hatchback that's fit for any occasion - whether that occasion requires practicality, fuel economy or performance

Strengths & Weaknesses

Strengths 

Solid build quality
Strong used values
Economical engines

Weaknesses 

Expensive to buy used
Cheaper versions look bland
Skoda Octavia is cheaper and roomier
Best New Discount

Volkswagen Golf Hatchback 99kw e-golf 35kwh 5dr auto

Total RRP £33,840

Your quote £26,880

You Save £6,960

Volkswagen Golf prices from £7,495   Finance from £118 per month

Sensible sells. And it's a big reason why the Volkswagen Golf is consistently one of the most popular family cars in Britain. Comfortable, well made, safe and cheap to run, this spacious hatchback gets all of the basics right.

Last year, nearly 65,000 people got a new Golf (only the smaller Ford Fiesta sold more), joining existing owners that range from families who just need reliable transport to higher-profile personalities, including Jeremy Clarkson and the Pope. Strong demand helps to keep used car values relatively high, which in turn keeps PCP car finance deals reasonably cheap, making this upmarket car attainable for a vast majority of motorists.

The car's familiar styling isn't the most exciting design that you can choose, but it does help to reinforce the Golf's classless image. Those looks can also be deceiving: they conceal sportscar performance in the GTI and R models; high-tech economy-boosting technology in some petrol models; and electric power in the Golf GTE and e-Golf.

The interior is another strength. It’s made of high-quality materials and feels solid throughout. Like the exterior, it’s understated, but everything is clear and simple to use. All but the entry-level S cars and discontinued BlueMotion models come with adaptive cruise control (also called automatic distance control), which can maintain a set distance behind the car in front, while every Golf has air-conditioning, Bluetooth for connecting your phone wirelessly and a touchscreen. Cars delivered after Spring 2017 have glossier and higher-definition screens.

Many versions of the updated model also swap physical rotary controls for volume and zooming in and out of the sat-nav map with onscreen icons, which are far harder to use on the move, meaning that even simply zooming in and out of the map becomes distracting. If this is something that bothers you, it's worth checking which system is fitted to the version you buy.

Golfs built after  Spring 2017 received a substantial update, which introduced larger touchscreens and additional technology options, including semi-autonomous driving in traffic jams, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto software, which make it simpler to control your phone through the car's screen. There were also some minor design tweaks and engine improvements. Considering how impressive the pre-update cars were, however, most drivers should still be very happy with a pre-update model, so don't discount one of these if the price and specification are right for you.

Safety technology, including automatic emergency braking is standard across the range (except for entry-level S models built before Spring 2017) and the Golf has a five-star rating from the independent crash testers, Euro NCAP. Do bear in mind, however, that the Golf was tested back in 2012 on a far less challenging test than models assessed in 2018 or 2019. It's undoubtedly a safe car, but newer cars are likely to be safer still, as car safety has improved rapidly over the last few decades. The car is practical too, with space for three adults in the back and an average-sized boot that can handle a weekly shop and a pushchair, although a Skoda Octavia is more spacious if you need the maximum load capacity.

Few family hatchbacks can match the smoothness and quietness of a Golf on the move. Long-distance journeys are made more relaxing thanks to quiet engines, low levels of wind noise and the car's ability to glide over potholes and bumps, particularly when it's fitted with the (expensive) advanced suspension that Volkswagen calls Dynamic Chassis Control. The Peugeot 308 and Renault Megane might be better at soaking up harsh impacts over bumps, but are more prone to bouncing over rough roads. If comfort is high on your list of priorities, it's worth focusing on Golfs with smaller alloy wheels as those with 18-inch and 19-inch wheels do feature a firmer ride, with more metal and less rubber separating you from the road.

For practicality with a bit more excitement, the high-performance Golf line-up adds some spice. The famous GTI version has performance that pushes you back in your seat and it grips well in corners. Even more powerful is the top-of-the-range Golf R, which comes with four-wheel drive as standard for containing the substantial power on tap. The VW Golf GTD is a fun-to-drive diesel, while the petrol- and electric-powered Golf GTE is powerful and economical - particularly if used for short journeys and recharged regularly.

The Golf’s high used prices means that it is not one of the best value family cars for second-hand buyers, who can normally get a newer, lower-mileage, and better-equipped car, such as a Ford Focus, Peugeot 308, Kia Ceed, Hyundai i30 or Vauxhall Astra for the same money. Newer versions of these are likely to continue losing value faster than the Golf, however, so if you're not planning on keeping the car for many years, the Golf could actually prove better value. The same is true with PCP finance, as you're effectively paying the difference between the car's initial price and its predicted value at the end of the contract.

There's more competition from upmarket rivals such as the Mercedes A-Class and BMW 1 Series, while families are increasingly opting for high-riding crossovers, such as the Nissan QashqaiKia Sportage and Peugeot 3008, which combine some of the practicality and high-driving position of a 4x4 with the car-like feel of a hatchback. Volkswgen's own Tiguan crossover is essentially a larger and taller version of the Golf. You can expect to pay more for one of these fashionable machines, however, so you may find you can get a higher specification Golf or more powerful engine for the same money.

Other options include the Skoda Octavia, Audi A3 Sportback and Seat Leon, which are made by Volkswagen's sister companies and share most of their mechanical parts with the Golf, including engines, gearboxes and lots of in-car tech. These offer different levels of comfort, sportiness and value but the Golf is the ideal choice for many buyers who think that it gets the balance of these elements just right.

     

Last Updated 

Friday, July 5, 2019 - 17:30

Key facts 

Warranty: 
Three years/60,000 miles
Boot size: 
380 litres
Width: 
1799mm
Length: 
4258mm
Height: 
1492mm
Tax: 
£0 to £830 in first year, £140 thereafter

Best Volkswagen Golf for... 

Volkswagen Golf SE 1.6 TDI
Leaving aside the hybrid Golf GTE, which is extremely economical on shorter journeys, this diesel automatic version has an official fuel economy figure of 72.4mpg, but you should expect around 50mpg in normal driving.
Volkswagen Golf SE Navigation 1.0 5dr
For £2,500 more than the entry-level Golf (and a smaller premium on the used market), the Golf SE Navigation offers plenty of extra equipment, including alloy wheels, sat-nav, adaptive cruise control, as well as front and rear parking sensors. The 1-litre petrol engine is efficient with steady performance.
Volkswagen Golf R
This is the absolute top-of-the-range Golf, offering enough performance to worry many dedicated sports cars. Guaranteed to put a smile on your face every time you drive it – as long as you don’t dwell too much on its hefty price tag.
Volkswagen Golf S 1.0 83bhp
The least-powerful 1-litre engine is only offered on entry-level S cars, and this combination lacks the appeal of the rest of the range. Acceleration is slow, while the car's steel wheels and lack of parking sensors are disappointing in a car that has an official new price of more than £18,000

Volkswagen Golf History 

  • October 2012: New Golf revealed in S, SE and GT trim levels
  • February 2013: GTD high-performance diesel added to the range
  • May 2013: Economy-focused Golf BlueMotion arrives
  • July 2014: Golf Match trim level joins the line-up
  • January 2015: Launch of Golf GTE plug-in hybrid
  • February 2015: R-Line trim level introduced
  • June 2015: TSI petrol version of the BlueMotion added
  • June 2015: 303 Golfs recalled to fix faulty wheel bearings
  • November 2015: Match Edition trim arrives with sat-nav, heated front seats and cruise control (on sale until 2017)
  • April 2017 A full range update adds larger dashboard touchscreens, a new 1.5-litre petrol engine and minor design tweaks
  • December 2018 Match trim revived. SE and SE Nav models discontinued

    Understanding Volkswagen Golf car names 

    • Golf
    • Trim
      SE Navigation
    • Engine
      TSI 1.5 EVO 130PS
    • Gearbox
      DSG
    • Trim
      The Golf trims come with different levels of equipment. S is the entry-level, and cheapest, car, followed by SE, SE Navigation, GT, R-Line, and then the performance and hybrid models (GTI, GTD, GTE, R).
    • Engine
      VW Golf engines include TSI petrols and TDI diesels, as well as the high-performance GTI and R; the fully electric e-Golf; and the hybrid GTE, which combines a petrol engine and electric motor for fuel economy. The size of the engine is shown in litres (here it's 1.4) and its power is labelled as PS, which is almost identical to horsepower.
    • Gearbox
      Automatic gearboxes are labelled DSG.

    Volkswagen Golf Engines 

    Petrol: 1.0 TSI, 1.5 TSI, 2.0 TSI, 1.4 TSI hybrid, 2.0-litre TSI
    Diesel: 1.6 TDI, 2.0 TDI
    Electric: e-Golf

    The Golf offers a choice of petrol, diesel or pure electric power. All the petrol and diesel engines are turbocharged to boost power and fuel economy.

    The smallest, the 1.0-litre TSI engine with 83bhp, is adequate for those who simply want to get from A to B. However, the more powerful 107bhp offers a more attractive blend of power and economy.

    The 1.5-litre petrol is available in 126 and 146bhp power outputs, with the latter providing almost hot-hatchback performance. Both are impressively economical.

    The old 1.4 TSI engine that powered the pre-facelift version is still used in the Golf GTE hybrid. Together with the electric motor, the model’s combined power output is almost 200bhp. If you’re looking to reduce your company car tax burden, it’s worth investigating. In addition, it qualifies for the government’s lower level £2500 plug-in grant.

    For true sports-car-beating pace, you need to look at the Golf GTI – 224bhp standard and 239bhp Perfomance versions – and the 302bhp Golf R, all three of which use the 2.0-litre TSI petrol engine.

    Diesel options kick off with the extremely frugal 1.6-litre TDI. Performance is reasonable but the better all-rounder is the 2.0-litre TDI diesel. This is very nice to drive, with plenty of power available at all engine speeds while still being very economical. If you want more performance there’s 179bhp version of it in the Golf GTD, the diesel equivalent of the petrol-powered GTI.

    You might be drawn to the best mpg figures from the TDI diesels but their higher price may outweigh the fuel savings unless you are doing around 12,000 miles or more each year.

    Finally, there’s the pure-electric e-Golf. It’s about the same price as the hybrid GTE but qualifies for the higher plug-in grant of £4500. Expect a real-world range of around 150 miles.

    Fuel

    Mpg

    Bhp

    0 - 62mph

    Top speed

    1.0 TSI

    Petrol

    58.9mpg

    83bhp

    11.9ss

    112mph

    1.0 TSI

    Petrol

    58.9mpg

    107bhp   

    9.9s

    122mph

    1.5 TSI EVO

    Petrol

    57.6-58.9mpg

    126bhp

    9.1s

    130mph

    1.5 TSI EVO

    Petrol

    55.4-56.5mpg

    146bhp

    8.3s

    134mph

    2.0 TSI

    Petrol

    43.5-44.8mpg

    224bhp

    6.4s

    154 - 155mph

    2.0 TSI

    Petrol

    43.5-44.8mpg

    239bhp

    6.2s

    154-155mph

    2.0 TSI

    Petrol35.8-404.4mpg

    302bhp

    4.6-5.1s155mph

    1.6TDI

    Diesel67.3-72.4mog111bhp10.2-10.5s123mph

    2.0TDI

    Diesel60.1-67.3mpg111-179bhp7.5-10.5s123-144mph

    e-Golf

    Electric

    186 miles of range

    132bhp

    9.6s

    93mph 

    Volkswagen Golf Trims 

    S, Match, GT, R-Line, GTI, GTD, GTE

    (Discontinued trims: Match Edition, BlueMotion, GT Edition, R-Line Edition, SE, SE Nav)

    The Golf's trim levels have changed since the car was launched in 2013, so it's best to check the full list of equipment fitted to any used model, in order to ensure that it has everything that you're looking for.

    Currently, the Golf S is the entry-level car, but doesn't feel too cut-price from the inside, where an 8in high-resolution touchscreen and glossy surround, dominates the dashboard. There's air conditioning, Bluetooth, a digital radio, electric windows all-round and electrically-adjustable mirrors. A split-fold rear seat allows you to increase luggage space and put a passenger in the back, while the front seats are height-adjustable. Levels of safety are excellent, with an automatic emergency braking system that can predict if a pedestrian will walk in front of the car along with airbags that protect against front- and side-impacts.

    However, S models only come with cheap-looking steel wheels. The Match trim level was added in December 2018 as a special edition ahead of the Golf's replacement in 2019. From new it starts from £20,545. Volkswagen reckons it saves customers around £300 when comparing like for like. Match takes the equipment from the discontinued SE and SE Nav trim levels (including an eight-inch touchscreen display) and adds new 16-inch alloy wheels, front fog lamps, and rear privacy glass.

    The Golf R-Line has extra sections underneath the doors and front grille, making the car look even lower and sportier, as well as grille inserts that give it a m ore aggressive look. A differnt alloy wheel design and trapezoid exhaust surround make the car more distinctive.

    At the top of the range, there are no less than four high-performance Golfs to choose from: the traditional Volkswagen Golf GTI petrol model, the more frugal (yet still quick) GTD diesel, the advanced GTE petrol-electric hybrid and the hugely fast and powerful Golf R. All get the bigger alloy wheels and sporty bodykits that befit high-performance models, as well as their own upholstery designs.

    Volkswagen Golf Reliability and warranty 

    The Golf hasn't always lived up tio its bullet-proof image, but the latest version of the car has won plaudits from owners. It was ranked 15 out of 75 best-selling cars in the 2018 Auto Express Driver Power satisfaction survey. Fewer than one in ten owners reported any sort of issue, although electrical problems were most common amongst drivers who experienced a fault.

    Volkswagen’s three-year/60,000-mile warranty was for many years the industry standard, but these days it looks stingy next to Hyundai’s five-year/unlimited-mileage cover and Kia’s impressive seven-year/100,000-mile deal. You can at least extend the warranty once it runs out – albeit at extra cost.

    Used Volkswagen Golf 

    There are currently 1854 Volkswagen Golfs available on BuyaCar, with prices ranging from £7,495 to £38,753 for nearly-new models.

    Monthly finance payments start from £118 per month.

    The Golf has always presented a bit of a conundrum to used-car buyers. It’s obviously a great car, but that reputation, plus its desirable badge, keeps second-hand prices pretty high.

    Even so, you can save thousands of pounds on nearly new models, less than a year old, which sell for considerably less than brand new cars. With an up-to-date specification, plenty of warranty left and few miles on the clock, these can be almost as good as new.

    The Golf is more competitive if you're taking out finance. Repayments for Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) finance are based on the value that the car is expected to lose during the agreement, As the Golf loses value slower than most rivals, you may find that monthly payments are affordable - although you'll have to pay a substantial lump sum if you want to keep the car at the end.

    Some of the biggest nearly new car savings can be made on higher-specification Golf GT or R-Line models, as you’ll dodge some of the significant price premium these trims command over the more humdrum versions when new. For instance, a new GT model with the 2.0TDI engine will set you back nearly £27,000 from new. However, a nearly-new car costs will cost in the region of £17,000.

    SE and SE Nav trims were ditched in December 2018. These were both big sellers, so there are plenty of these on the used market. SE specification models have 16in alloy wheels, along with plenty of useful additions, including parking sensors at the front and rear, wipers and headlights that activate automatically. A leather steering wheel is included, along with adaptive cruise control that maintains a set distance from the car in front. You can personalise your key so that the car pre-selects your favourite radio station and default sat-nav destination. Apple Car Play and Android Auto software is also fitted. SE Navigation cars add sat-nav with European mapping.

     

    Volkswagen Golf: used car prices1 year old2 years old3 years old
    Best for economy 
    Volkswagen Golf SE 1.6 TDI
    £13,941£12,392£8,490
    Best for families 
    VW Golf SE Navigation 1.0 5dr
    £13,350£12,199n/a
    Best for performance VW Golf R£24,250£19,962£17,300

    Volkswagen Golf Prices

    Volkswagen Golf GT

    1.5 tsi evo 150 gt 5dr

    • Doors 5
    • Fuel petrol
    • Economy 55.4mpg
    • Gears manual

    Starting at: £21,512

    You could save up to: £4113

    1.5 tsi evo 150 gt 5dr dsg

    • Doors 5
    • Fuel petrol
    • Economy 56.5mpg
    • Gears automatic

    Starting at: £22,757

    You could save up to: £4283

    1.5 tsi evo gt 5dr

    • Doors 5
    • Fuel petrol
    • Economy 56.5mpg
    • Gears manual

    Starting at: £20,830

    You could save up to: £4020

    1.6 tdi gt 5dr

    • Doors 5
    • Fuel diesel
    • Economy 67.3mpg
    • Gears manual

    Starting at: £20,936

    You could save up to: £4034

    2.0 tdi gt 5dr

    • Doors 5
    • Fuel diesel
    • Economy 65.7mpg
    • Gears manual

    Starting at: £22,168

    You could save up to: £4202

    2.0 tdi gt 5dr dsg

    • Doors 5
    • Fuel diesel
    • Economy 62.8mpg
    • Gears automatic

    Starting at: £23,413

    You could save up to: £4372

    Volkswagen Golf GTE

    1.4 tsi gte 5dr dsg

    • Doors 5
    • Fuel petrol/plugin elec hybrid
    • Economy 166.2mpg
    • Gears automatic

    Starting at: £27,116

    You could save up to: £4899

    Volkswagen Golf GTE Advance

    1.4 tsi gte advance 5dr dsg

    • Doors 5
    • Fuel petrol/plugin elec hybrid
    • Economy 156.9mpg
    • Gears automatic

    Starting at: £28,700

    You could save up to: £5115

    Volkswagen Golf GTI Performance

    2.0 tsi 245 gti performance 5dr dsg

    • Doors 5
    • Fuel petrol
    • Economy 44.8mpg
    • Gears automatic

    Starting at: £28,011

    You could save up to: £4994

    Volkswagen Golf Match

    1.0 tsi 115 match 5dr

    • Doors 5
    • Fuel petrol
    • Economy 58.9mpg
    • Gears manual

    Starting at: £18,078

    You could save up to: £3647

    1.5 tsi evo 150 match 5dr

    • Doors 5
    • Fuel petrol
    • Economy 54.3mpg
    • Gears manual

    Starting at: £19,677

    You could save up to: £3863

    1.5 tsi evo 150 match 5dr dsg

    • Doors 5
    • Fuel petrol
    • Economy 55.4mpg
    • Gears automatic

    Starting at: £20,922

    You could save up to: £4033

    1.5 tsi evo match 5dr

    • Doors 5
    • Fuel petrol
    • Economy 56.5mpg
    • Gears manual

    Starting at: £18,995

    You could save up to: £3770

    1.6 tdi match 5dr

    • Doors 5
    • Fuel diesel
    • Economy 68.9mpg
    • Gears manual

    Starting at: £19,464

    You could save up to: £3836

    2.0 tdi match 5dr

    • Doors 5
    • Fuel diesel
    • Economy 64.2mpg
    • Gears manual

    Starting at: £20,716

    You could save up to: £4004

    2.0 tdi match 5dr dsg

    • Doors 5
    • Fuel diesel
    • Economy 64.2mpg
    • Gears automatic

    Starting at: £21,961

    You could save up to: £4174

    Volkswagen Golf R-Line

    1.5 tsi evo 150 r-line 5dr

    • Doors 5
    • Fuel petrol
    • Economy 55.4mpg
    • Gears manual

    Starting at: £22,388

    You could save up to: £4232

    1.5 tsi evo 150 r-line 5dr dsg

    • Doors 5
    • Fuel petrol
    • Economy 56.5mpg
    • Gears automatic

    Starting at: £23,633

    You could save up to: £4402

    2.0 tdi r-line 5dr

    • Doors 5
    • Fuel diesel
    • Economy 65.7mpg
    • Gears manual

    Starting at: £23,043

    You could save up to: £4322

    2.0 tdi r-line 5dr dsg

    • Doors 5
    • Fuel diesel
    • Economy 62.8mpg
    • Gears automatic

    Starting at: £24,288

    You could save up to: £4492

    Volkswagen Golf S

    1.6 tdi s 5dr

    • Doors 5
    • Fuel diesel
    • Economy 68.9mpg
    • Gears manual

    Starting at: £18,364

    You could save up to: £3686

    Volkswagen Golf e-Golf

    99kw e-golf 35kwh 5dr auto

    • Doors 5
    • Fuel electric
    • Economy
    • Gears automatic

    Starting at: £26,880

    You could save up to: £6960

    Other Editions