At a glance: Volkswagen Golf

At a glance: Volkswagen Golf
At a glance: Volkswagen Golf

The Volkswagen Golf is the archetypal family hatchback – for good reason. It’s a superb all-rounder that does everything with aplomb. As default buys go, it’s one of the best out there.

It’s not cheap, but good retained values mean you won’t lose out in the longer term. Some rivals are roomier and the infotainment systems are showing their age these days, but it’s still a great buy.

DRIVING

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Performance
• Counterintuitively, the 1.0-litre TSI engine is stronger than the 1.2-litre. 1.4-litre TSIs are very impressive
• All diesels are good but we’d pick the 148bhp 2.0-litre for its stronger pace
• GTI, GTD, GTE and R models give ample choice for hot hatch fans

Ride and handling
• No family hatchback rides as smoothly as the Golf
• Even hot Golfs are comfortable enough for everyday use, and handle very sharply
• Not many family hatchbacks are as secure and predictable to drive as the Golf, either

Refinement
• The Golf’s reputation for superb refinement is justified; only the 1.6 TDI spoils things with a bit too much rattle when cold and when revved
• Controls feel smooth and good quality
• The Golf GTE can run on electric power alone if the batteries have enough charge, making it near-silent in town

IN THE CABIN

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Behind the wheel
• Drivers of all shapes and sizes will be comfortable behind the wheel of the Golf
• If you suffer from a bad back, note that lumbar support is only standard on Match Edition trim and above
• The Golf’s dashboard is a model of clarity and ease of use

Space and practicality
• Front seat space is vast and there’s lots of oddments space as well
• Six-footers will be fine in the rear and the door openings are large
• The boot is more average, although it’s evenly shaped

Equipment
• Base S models are a bit stingy, although they do have air con as standard
• Best value is the Match Edition, which has alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control, parking sensors and auto lights
• DAB and Bluetooth is standard across the range, and even the entry-level eight-speaker stereo is powerful

BUYING AND OWNING

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Price and running costs
• The Golf is not cheap. Model-for-model, it’s more in line with Audis than Fords
• Running costs are competitive and both diesel and petrol engines are economical
• Retained values are excellent

Quality and reliability
• Quality is a cut above most mainstream rivals
• The Golf feels classier than rivals such as the Ford Focus and Seat Leon
• All the buttons are slick and precise

Safety and security
• All Golfs have seven airbags and you can choose rear side airbags as an option
• The Match Edition has City Emergency Braking that auto-stops the car if it detects an impact
• The Golf has an impressive five-star Euro NCAP safety rating

Instant verdict: The long-running Volkswagen Golf is one of the finest family cars you can buy. It’s a bit expensive but it’s worth every penny

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