Review: VW Golf (Overall score 4.5/5)

There will be an all-new Golf in showrooms by early next year, but with the outgoing model still selling well, we’ve put one through its paces to see if it can really compete with newer rivals. Although the current (Mk7) Golf was introduced in 2012, it was given a hefty update in 2016 to become the Mk7.5. While the Golf is perceived as a costly option, these aren’t spartan cars any more, and with mainstream rivals such as the Focus and Astra now priced similarly, the VW isn’t as expensive as you might think – especially when you take the specification into account.

VW cabin

Cabin (5/5)

The cabin is exactly what you’d expect of a VW: well made, easy to use and pretty functional. As a result, there’s little that will faze your pupils, with crystal clear instrumentation, simple dials, and a separate TFT display in the centre for supplementary information if it’s needed. An eight-inch touch-screen display dominates the dash; the whole multi-media system is intuitive and easy to use, plus it sounds great.

The front seats are comfy, supportive and come with height-adjustable seat belts, and it’s the same in the back too: great head and leg room and, despite this, the boot is pretty commodious as well. It can stow 380 litres with the seats up or 1270 litres with them down, with practicality boosted by a split-level floor. Add decent all-round visibility to the mix (the small door mirrors aside), as well as a decent array of cubby holes, and it’s hard to mark the Golf’s cabin down for anything significant.

VW console

Driving (4.5/5)

The Golf comes with 1.0 or 1.5-litre petrol engines and 1.6 or 2.0-litre diesels, all turbocharged. The 999cc petrol engine tested here provides far more zip than you’d think possible and, while it’s surpisingly muscular, the change-up light on the dash is annoyingly optimistic. Very smooth and refined, with well-weighted steering, light controls and a slick gearchange, the Golf is easy to drive rather than driving fun. If you’d prefer a diesel, the 1.6 TDI offers decent refinement, economy and pace, with the bigger engines (1.5 TSI or 2.0 TDI) offering more of the same. If you’d prefer an auto, VW’s ultra-slick DSG dual-clutch transmission works brilliantly, so there really are no bad choices when it comes to picking a Golf’s running gear.

VW golf rear

Costs (4/5)

The cheapest Golf is the three-door 84bhp 1.0 TSI S; five-door cars cost £655 more. We’d recommend buying a five-door 114bhp 1.0 TSI Match (as tested here) for £20,365; an equivalent 1.6 TDi costs £22,225. Even the S trim is well equipped as you get DAB, Bluetooth, the eight-inch touch-screen, air-con, a space saver spare wheel and steel road wheels.

Match trim adds 16-inch alloy wheels, parking sensors front and rear, automatic lights and wipers, adaptive cruise control, upgraded multi-media and a higher grade of interior trim. When it comes to insurance the Golf is in groups 11-14, depending on trim level; the 1.6 TDI sits in groups 10-15, while real-world fuel consumption for the petrol engine is around 45mpg; the diesel is pegged at 55mpg.