The Volkswagen Golf is without a doubt one of the most popular family hatchbacks around and it’s easy to see why.
Providing lots of space and available as a 3 and 5-door, the VW Golf is extremely practical and also comes as an estate, showing it’s versatility. It boasts highly economical and efficient engines and although it might seem a bit steep in initial cost to some, it holds its value very well.
The VW Golf may not be quite as exciting to drive as the Ford Focus for example but it is still enjoyable. It has excellent suspension that smooths out any bumps and weighs less than previous models, giving it a light and responsive feel on the road.
In terms of looks, Volkswagen has made the sensible decision not to dramatically change the current Golf. Having been around since the late 70s, the VW Golf has of course undergone a number of facelifts, but the modest exterior and upmarket interior have been retained, with simply more equipment, better engines and more space being added. Arguably, the VW Golf isn’t particularly stylish and is even a little boring to look at but having sold over 29 million models over the last 40 years, it’s clear that this doesn’t hold us back.
If you are looking for a practical, reliable and affordable family car, then the VW Golf should definitely be at the top of your list.
Drive and Performance:
While the VW Golf doesn’t match the speeds of competitors like the Audi A3 or reach quite the level of fun that the Ford Focus offers, it does offer a safe and reliable ride that’s perfectly enjoyable.
Coming with a number of safety features like the electronic anti-skid control and city emergency braking system, you can drive the VW Golf at some speed and still feel secure. There is minimal body roll and the suspension smooths out any bumps in the road with ease as well as making your ride more comfortable. It’s not quite as agile as some of its rivals but is still very responsive with tight, accurate power-assisted steering.
The newest models of the VW Golf are a whole 100kg lighter than its predecessors, which has improved handling significantly and makes the (slightly bigger) car simple to park. All models have good refinement, with weighted pedals that make changing gear slick and stop-start city driving easier. Visibility is also excellent with minimal blindspots, adding to the sense of control you feel behind the wheel.
MPG, Running costs & Emissions:
This is where the VW Golf shines next to its competitors. While the series might seem expensive (especially the sportier models) upon purchase, the VW Golf holds up to 48.2% of its original value after 3 years, giving you a decent resale price.
On top of this, the VW Golf is extremely economical with all of its engines being highly efficient. The most impressive is the BlueMotion 1.6-litre TDI, which reaches 88.3mpg and only produces 85g/km of CO2 emissions, beating both the Ford Focus and the BMW 1-series. Being this clean also means no road tax, so running costs for this model are incredibly low.
Even petrol engines and sportier models like the GDT are still economical. The entry-level 1.2-litre petrol may not be fast but it produces 113g/km of CO2 and can achieve 57.6mpg, which is pretty good and the GDT only just misses out on no road tax by emitting only 109g/km.
The VW Golf boasts the kind of interior that you would expect from Volkswagen. It is spacious, comfortable and classy.
It can easily accommodate a car full of six-footers, providing them with plenty of leg and headroom and both the driver and front passenger in particular benefit from the very adjustable seats and arm rests. There’s room in the back too. One minor problem is that the 5th person who gets stuck in the middle will have to straddle the transmissions tunnel, which raises the floor slightly but this is the same in most other rivals and cars in general.
The good suspension across the range also adds to the comfort, smoothing out any bumps in the road even in the sportier GT. Wind and road noise levels are kept to a minimum and the VW Golf’s engines are particularly quiet as well. Visibility is good and the amount and size of storage space, including the boot, is impressive.
Soft-touch plastics cover the buttons on the attractive dashboard and all cars in the VW Golf series come with a touchscreen control panel. This includes DAB, Bluetooth and iPod connectivity but can be upgraded to include satnav in sportier models like the GT.
On the outside, the VW Golf hasn’t changed too much over time, but is slightly more angular and SE models get 16-inch alloys and an upgraded grille. Arguably it is not a particularly eye-catching car and it may not have as many gadgets as some others like Mazda or Skoda but the VW Golf provides everything you actually need in a car whilst giving you a safe and enjoyable ride.
The VW Golf is both a safe and reliable car, making it perfect for your family. It comes with a 3-year warranty and free brake-down assistance in the first year of purchase.
Every model in the series comes with 7 airbags, including 1 for the driver’s knees. The Golf achieved the maximum 5-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash tests and scored particularly highly for both adult and child occupant protection; beating both the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra.
Ford may have taken the lead for pedestrian protection but coming equipped with stability control, city emergency braking system, tyre pressure warning and more certainly means you can put your trust in the VW Golf, whichever model you choose.