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Used VW Golf buying guide (2013-present)

The VW Golf is the default choice if you want a comfortable, practical and reliable all-round hatchback. It’s available in either three or five-door form and with a range of engines from frugal diesels to punchy high-performance petrols – there’s a Golf to suit every buyer. The next-generation VW Golf is expected in 2018 so there are some great deals on used versions.

Click ‘login’ on carwow’s homepage to see our range of cars including new, nearly new, pre-registered and ex-demo models all available for immediate pick-up or delivery.

What is it?

The VW Golf is a brilliant family hatchback thanks to its comfort, build quality and practicality. This seventh-generation version has loads of engines to choose from, low running costs and great reliability, making it a sensible second-hand buy. Some cars might be quicker, more practical or more luxurious but almost none can match the Golf’s sheer breadth of talent.

VW Golf 2016 facelift

A facelifted Golf Mk7 was revealed at the end of 2016. The new model didn’t change much beyond redesigning the headlight lighting signatures and adding some new trim to the bumpers on higher-spec models. The interior saw the addition of optional digital dials behind the steering wheel and a larger infotainment display – the top-spec versions of which recognised gesture controls.

What engine should I get?

Engines range from a city-friendly 1.0-litre petrol to a strong 2.0-litre diesel and a blisteringly fast 2.0-litre turbo petrol in GTI and R models. Battery-powered pure-electric and plug-in hybrid versions are also available.

Many models can be had with the excellent DSG auto gearbox that makes the driving experience even more relaxing. DSG-equipped cars typically demand a premium over an equivalent manual version so be prepared to budget a little extra cash.

If you mainly drive around town, a petrol Golf will suit you best. The best petrol engine is the 1.4-litre model – it’s more refined than the diesel engines, offers a healthy 122hp and can return a claimed 54mpg.

If you cover very high mileages, a diesel may suit you better. The 1.6-litre has just enough grunt for motorway duties and claims an average of 74mpg. The 2.0-litre diesel is a better choice, however, due to the extra power it brings and the significant improvement in refinement it offers compared to the 1.6.

Used VW Golf running costs and insurance

Golfs are reasonably cheap to tax thanks to a lineup of eco-friendly engines – the electric e-Golf costs nothing to tax. Be prepared to pay a bit more for parts than rivals such as the Ford Focus or Vauxhall Astra – the VW’s engine is rather mechanically complex and can be expensive to repair when things go wrong. The Golf should be reasonably easy to insure – entry-level models fall into the insurance group 7, while high-performance GTI and R models top out at insurance group 39.

Should I pick used or new VW Golf?

Buying a used Golf has its benefits – it’s generally cheaper than buying a new model and, because dealers have stock cars readily available, you can drive away on the same day. There are benefits to picking a new model, however, such as the fact that new cars tend to be offered with better finance packages and that you can pick your exact colour, trim and spec before buying. For more information, check out our explainer of the pros and cons of new vs used cars.

Can I get a pre-reg used VW Golf?

Dealers will have a range of VW Golfs pre-registered and ready-to-go on their forecourts. Models that are pre-registered will have first been registered by the dealer to help them meet their targets – they are essentially new cars but you’ll technically be the second owner if you purchase one.

Used VW Golf problems and what to look out for

So far, the seventh-generation Golf has a proven reliability record with very few problems reported – the car’s engine and gearbox seem to hold up well. However, a handful of owners have reported strange noises coming from the rear suspension, such as popping or rattling so, when test-driving a stock car, listen out for any odd noises coming from the rear especially when driving over bumpy roads.

Others have found their infotainment system lags or freezes on one screen. Make sure you play with the car’s electronic systems – touch all the buttons and check all its functions, watching for freezing or lag on the screen.

Used VW Golf warranty and servicing

VW’s three-year/60,000-mile warranty begins once the car was first registered and, crucially, is transferrable between owners so nearly new examples will still have lots of warranty left. Servicing intervals for the Mk7 Golf are every 12 months or 20,000 miles, whichever comes sooner.

What options should I look out for?

When searching for a used Golf, here are a few packages and optional extras to look out for:

VW Golf model history

Save money on your next car

Click ‘login’ on carwow’s homepage to see our range of cars including new, nearly new, pre-registered and ex-demo models all available for immediate pick-up or delivery.

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