Volkswagen Golf Review & Prices

The Volkswagen Golf Mk8 retains its core family hatchback appeal, and will appeal whatever your needs – even if some alternatives are more fun to drive

Buy or lease the Volkswagen Golf at a price you’ll love
We take the hassle and haggle out of car buying by finding you great deals from local and national dealers
RRP £27,035 - £37,040 Avg. Carwow saving £2,049 off RRP
Carwow price from
Cash
£25,220
Monthly
£238*
Used
£12,999
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wowscore
8/10
Reviewed by Tom Wiltshire after extensive testing of the vehicle.

What's good

  • Great choice of efficient engines
  • Comfortable over bumps
  • Latest tech is present and correct

What's not so good

  • Dull styling
  • Option prices can soon add up
  • Only averagely roomy
At a glance
Model
Golf
Body type
Hatchbacks
Available fuel types
Petrol, Diesel, Hybrid
Acceleration (0-60 mph)
7.2 - 10.2 s
Number of seats
5
Boot, seats up
273 - 381 litres - 3 Suitcases
Exterior dimensions (L x W x H)
4,284mm x 1,789mm x 1,491mm
CO₂ emissions
This refers to how much carbon dioxide a vehicle emits per kilometre – the lower the number, the less polluting the car.
6 - 133 g/km
Fuel economy
This measures how much fuel a car uses, according to official tests. It's measured in miles per gallon (MPG) and a higher number means the car is more fuel efficient.
47.9 - 941.6 mpg
Insurance group
A car's insurance group indicates how cheap or expensive it will be to insure – higher numbers will mean more expensive insurance.
17E, 22E, 20E, 18E, 21E, 24E, 19E, 23E, 27E, 15E, 14E
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Find out more about the Volkswagen Golf

Is the Volkswagen Golf a good car?

It’s fair to say that the Volkswagen Golf defines the family hatchback - it’s the benchmark by which all of its alternatives such as the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and Honda Civic are measured. At the same time, it’s posh enough that you could quite happily compare it to upmarket cars such as the BMW 1 Series or Audi A3.

The Golf is the Coca Cola or Heinz Ketchup of cars - it’s been the default choice for an astonishing amount of buyers in its five decades on sale. And just like coke or ketchup, while there may be alternatives or new players that offer something different - perhaps, in some situations, better - the default choice is still extremely good and hard to top.

The current Golf is the Mk8 model, which was first launched in 2020. An update in 2024 took into account customer feedback and made myriad small tweaks and improvements, particularly to the interior and software.

The exterior hasn’t had such a big makeover. The new headlights - full LED on all models - are smart, and on some versions joined by a light bar and even an illuminated VW logo. The taillights are slightly updated, too, and the bumpers have been redesigned. It’s still not what you’d call a particularly exciting-looking, but it is smart and inoffensive - which is more than you can say about the latest BMW 1 Series.

Inside, the Golf still retains its trademark solid feel which has been an enduringly popular feature ever since the Mk4. For 2024, Volkswagen took in customer feedback, and as a result the new model replaces the old car’s touch-sensitive steering wheel buttons with a full range of physical switches.

Video group test: Audi A3 v BMW 1 Series v Mercedes A-Class v Volkswagen Golf

The infotainment’s had a serious refresh too, featuring far more user-friendly software, illuminated sliders underneath the screen for quick access to volume and temperature controls, and even the AI ChatGPT built in to answer questions that the native voice assistant can’t figure out.

The Golf remains as practical as ever - that is to say, totally middle of the pack. There’s more room for rear passengers than you find in a Mercedes A-Class or BMW 1 Series, but a Skoda Octavia and Ford Focus are more capacious. The boot measures 381 litres, which is again firmly average, for a totally average-sized hatchback. If you need more room, the Golf Estate has an enormous boot and slightly more rear passenger space, while being usefully cheaper than the larger Volkswagen Passat.

In contrast to most alternatives, which offer fewer and fewer engines as the years go on, the Golf is available with a huge range of different options. There’s a 1.5-litre petrol, with or without a mild hybrid system and available with two power outputs, with a 2.0-litre version on the way. There’s even a choice of two 2.0-litre diesel engines, perfect for milemunchers.

Two plug-in hybrids complete the engine range - a normal model badged eHybrid and the sporty-looking GTE. A refreshed Golf GTI and Golf R will join the range later.

There truly is a Golf for everyone - but you can't really go wrong with one of the mid-range petrol versions. Stick to a Ford Focus if you want fun in the corners, though

Whichever engine you choose you can be assured of a relaxing journey - the Golf majors on its feeling of solidity, refinement and stability. No, it’s not as much fun to drive as a Ford Focus or BMW 1 Series when the road gets twisty, but it’s not too far off, especially if you choose one of the models with adjustable suspension. Higher-powered cars also get more sophisticated rear suspension that helps you corner more quickly and without so much lean.

With so much choice in the range - six engine options, five trim levels (plus the standalone GTE) and a massive selection of optional extras, there is a Golf for pretty much anybody - but they’re all damn good cars.

Head on over to the Volkswagen Golf deals or other new Volkswagen deals pages to see how much you can save through Carwow. Alternatively, check out offers on used models or sell your car through Carwow.

How much is the Volkswagen Golf?

The Volkswagen Golf has a RRP range of £27,035 to £37,040. However, with Carwow you can save on average £2,049. Prices start at £25,220 if paying cash. Monthly payments start at £238. The price of a used Volkswagen Golf on Carwow starts at £12,999.

Our most popular versions of the Volkswagen Golf are:

Model version Carwow price from
1.5 TSI Match 5dr £25,383 Compare offers

The Golf is more expensive than rivals like the Ford Focus and mechanically-identical Skoda Octavia but it does come with more standard equipment than either.

All versions of the Golf come with a multi-function digital display in place of old-fashioned conventional dials, you get parking sensors at the front and back, as well as active cruise control which can brake and accelerate the car automatically.

Performance and drive comfort

The Volkswagen Golf is easy to drive in town, comfortable on the motorway and fun in bends, but it isn't the best at anything – it’s a jack of all trades but a master of none

In town

The Volkswagen Golf is easy to drive in town. You get good all-around visibility, light steering, a clutch pedal that isn’t too springy and brakes that are progressive, not snatchy. The manual gearbox is a little bit notchy, but there’s always the option to go for the seven-speed automatic.

It shifts gear smoothly once you’re underway, but can be slightly jerky at slow speeds which you’ll notice when parking. Otherwise, the Golf is an easy car to park. All models come with progressive steering that has not much more than one turn lock-to-lock, front and rear parking sensors and the optional auto-park system can park the Golf in bays and perpendicular spaces. It can even nose you into gaps if it needs to.

The Golf’s adjustable dampers are another option that’s worth considering. It gives the Volkswagen a surprisingly comfortable ride over poor surfaces like cobbles and potholes. A word of warning, though, only Golfs with 150hp or more get independent rear suspension that deals better with bumps than the standard setup.

On the motorway

The Volkswagen Golf is very relaxing for a car this size when you get up to speed on the motorway with comfortable suspension and a quiet cabin that’s only spoiled by a little flutter of wind from around the wing mirrors.

All models come with active cruise control that can accelerate and brake the car automatically. It works best when paired with the Golf's automatic gearbox, which means the car can come to a complete stop with no outside interference.

Matrix LEDs are another option worth considering. They have multiple separate LEDs that can be controlled individually so they don’t blind other road users while keeping the area around them fully illuminated.

On a twisty road

Volkswagen has even managed to make the Golf fun to drive in corners. It grips well and putting the car in Sport mode makes the steering heavier, sharpens the throttle and (in cars with adjustable dampers) stiffens the suspension. Okay, so it’s not quite as engaging to drive as a Ford Focus, but it is a better package all around.

Space and practicality

The Volkswagen Golf is an easy car to get comfortable in and has a well-designed cabin with plenty of storage, although heated seats are an option on most of the range

Getting a comfortable driving position is easy in the Volkswagen Golf. All models get height-adjustable front seats with lumbar adjustment and the steering wheel also has a wide range of adjustments for height and reach.

Want your Golf to take the edge of winter? Then consider the winter pack which adds heated seats, a heated steering wheel, a quick clear heated windscreen and heated washer jet nozzles that won’t freeze.

There’s not much wrong with the car’s interior storage. All models have large bins in each door – they’re felt-lined to stop things jiggling about – a decent-sized glovebox and a small storage space under the front-centre armrest. The cup holders are also well designed so that they can grip large and small drinks, while the vanity mirrors behind the sun visors are illuminated so you can see your face at night.

Space in the back seats

There's plenty of room in the back of the Volkswagen Golf with decent knee room and headroom for six-footers thanks to the car’s boxy shape. The large rear windows also help make the car feel light and airy.

Wedge three people into the back and the middle passenger will feel squished but, on the bright side, your outer passengers won’t find their heads get rammed into the roof like they would in a Toyota Corolla.

The Volkswagen’s doors also open wider than the Toyota, which makes it easy to get a child seat lined up to the car’s clearly marked Isofix mounting points.

Boot space

The Volkswagen Golf has a 381-litre boot – a litre bigger than you get in an Audi A3 or BMW 1 Series (both 380 litres), although the BMW can swallow six carry-on suitcases while the shape of the Volkswagen’s boot limits it to five. The Toyota Corolla (361 litres) also falls behind, but the Honda Civic (410 litres) does best the Golf.

On the upside, the Golf’s boot has plenty of features including shopping hooks and a ski hatch that lets you feed longer luggage through into the cabin. An adjustable boot floor is also standard with it set in its highest position, there’s no load lip to lift luggage over.

It also means the boot floor remains flat when you fold down the back seats to reveal a total load capacity of 1,237 litres. That’s a bit bigger than the 1,200 litres found in both the Audi and the BMW.

Interior style, infotainment and accessories

The Volkswagen Golf’s interior – with its big screens and limited conventional buttons – looks very modern but it’s less easy to use as a result

The Golf’s interior came in for a lot of criticism when it launched in 2020 - mainly around its use of the central touchscreen for almost every function. That’s still the case after the 2024 facelift, but the screen has received a size upgrade and brand-new software, which both make it much easier to interact with.

The screen itself now measures a massive 12.9 inches on the diagonal. Underneath it sits a couple of touch-sensitive controls for heater temperature and volume - though with a few combinations of touches it can also perform other functions.

The new software is a huge improvement over the old Golf. Functions are much easier to find thanks to a redesigned home screen, while there’s a permanent shortcut bar at the top which can be customised to show the functions you use the most. For us, it’d be the safety menu so we could turn off the speed limit warning straight away.

Other means of interacting with the car include the steering wheel, which now features proper physical buttons across the range instead of the awful touch-sensitive ones some pre-facelift Golfs got. Or, if you don’t want to touch anything at all, you can use Volkswagen’s voice assistant. Named IDA, it can control many of the car’s functions and is actually pretty good at understanding what you’re after.

Volkswagen’s also built in ChatGPT AI functionality, so if you ask the car a question it doesn’t know the answer to - a good recipe for cookies, for example, or a key date in history to settle an in-car argument - the AI will take over and answer for you. A necessary feature? Time will tell…

Of course, there’s also wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality if you’d prefer to bypass VW’s system altogether. A wireless charging pad is also standard.

What hasn’t changed is that the Golf’s interior feels extremely high-quality. Little touches, like a luxuriously damped glovebox lid, felt lining to the door bins to stop items rattling or just the satisfying click of the few remaining physical switches leaves you in no doubt that the Golf’s interior is a cut above the Ford Focus or Mazda 3.

MPG, emissions and tax

The Volkswagen Golf is available in GTI, GTD, GTE and R specifications but here we’ll focus on the standard car, which is available with a choice of petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid petrol models.

Most models get a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic available as an option which comes complete with mild-hybrid technology. That technology allows the Golf to coast on the motorway and to activate its engine stop-start while the car is slowing to a stop.

The range kicks off with VW’s 115hp, 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol which returns fuel economy of around 50mpg and produces CO2 emissions of 123g/km. Want an automatic gearbox? Then you can swap the manual for a seven-speed twin-clutch automatic, which comes along with mild hybrid technology and improves fuel economy slightly.

Not enough power? Then try 150hp variant, again available as a manual or a mild hybrid automatic. Their mixture of nippy performance and still-excellent fuel economy makes them the pick of the bunch.

Do lots of motorway driving? Then consider a 115 or 150hp diesel – both have plenty of mid-range shove, are cheap to tax and can return fuel economy of more than 60mpg.

More of a townie that does occasional trips out of the city? Then consider the 204hp plug-in hybrid. It can travel more than 40 miles on battery power alone, meaning there’s the potential to save cash if you have a short commute and somewhere to charge the car. It gets from 0-62mph in 7.2 seconds and officially returns more than 300mpg, but that’ll drop very quickly when the battery is flat.

Safety and security

European safety body Euro NCAP scored the Volkswagen Golf five stars for safety when it was crash tested in 2019. It comes with eight airbags and active cruise control that can brake and accelerate the car automatically. You also get automatic emergency brakes, lane assist, road-sign detection and driver alert which senses when it’s time for you to take a break. All models also come with an alarm, which has an interior sensor.

Reliability and problems

The new Volkswagen Golf has suffered from various infotainment gremlins that have been fixed with several updates – make sure any car you buy has been treated to the latest software. 

Recalls are limited to a fix involving the high-voltage power system in plug-in hybrid models and engine compartment covers that come loose. Both can be fixed free of charge at the dealer. The Golf comes with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty. 

The latest generation of Golf has proved to be relatively mechanically reliable but does suffer with software bugs in the infotainment and screens. Typically, the Golf does rate as less reliable than its siblings from Skoda and SEAT, but that could be because motorists - who pay more for a Volkswagen badge - expect more and put up with fewer niggles.

Yes - the Passat is the next rung up in VW's range from the Golf. The Volkswagen Passat is an alternative to large cars like the Skoda Superb and BMW 5 Series, while the Golf is a family hatchback around the same size as a Mazda 3 or Toyota Corolla.

It depends what you need. Thrill-seekers have the speedy and powerful Golf GTI or Golf R at their disposal, whereas company car buyers could choose the GTE or one of the e-Hybrid plug-in hybrid models. For most people, we'd recommend the 1.5-litre TSI petrol in good-value Match trim - it's good to drive, efficient, and has all the equipment you need.

With the 2024 facelift, the Golf isn't going anywhere just yet - it'll be on sale for a good few years in its current form. At some point, however, Volkswagen will be compelled to discontinue the petrol and diesel versions - at which point it's likely an all-electric model will be sold. With fifty years of history and counting, it's very unlikely Volkswagen will ditch the Golf name entirely.

Buy or lease the Volkswagen Golf at a price you’ll love
We take the hassle and haggle out of car buying by finding you great deals from local and national dealers
RRP £27,035 - £37,040 Avg. Carwow saving £2,049 off RRP
Carwow price from
Cash
£25,220
Monthly
£238*
Used
£12,999
Ready to see prices tailored to you?
Compare new offers Compare used deals
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