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New Volkswagen Golf Review

RRP from
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This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
  • Roomy inside
  • Great build quality
  • Economical engines
  • Entry-level models are basic
  • Some alternatives are cheaper
  • Dull cabin
52.3 - 70.6
CO2 emissions
104 - 123 g/km
First year road tax
£145 - £205
Safety rating

There’s a reason the Volkswagen Golf is so popular: It’s great to drive, comfortable and well built inside. It will look bland inside and out to some, though, and there are cheaper options

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The Volkswagen Golf is nothing short of a family car icon. It deserves it too – throughout its life it has offered a solid interior, great space and an comfortable yet engaging drive.

The current VW Golf was introduced in 2012 – almost 40 years after the first – and this updated version appeared in 2017. New headlights, bumpers and LED tail lights make it look a little different, but the most major changes have been made inside.

There’s a new infotainment system for starters, and the option of an ‘Active Info Display’ which acts as a set of digital instruments to really lift the Golf’s otherwise drab cabin.

The Volkswagen Golf remains one of the best family cars on sale, and certainly feels more premium inside than alternatives such as the Vauxhall Astra, Skoda Octavia and Ford Focus. True, it costs more than all of these cars to buy at list price, but make sure you check our carwow Volkswagen Golf deals to see whether you could save the difference.

The Golf comes in many forms, but the hatchback we’re focusing on here is perfect for families. It’s available with three or five doors, but you’ll want the five-door model if practicality is paramount or you make regularly carry passengers in the back seats. Luckily it doesn’t cost much more to buy over the three-door model.

And the VW Golf also excels on storage. You’ll find deep door pockets capable of carrying large water bottles that are lined with felt for a more premium feel and to stop them rattling around, as well as decent-sized glovebox.

Thankfully Volkswagen didn’t forget about the boot, which will comfortably take a couple of large suitcases,a pushchair or a set of golf clubs. It’s versatile, too, thanks to a movable floor that can be made higher or lower depending on your needs.

The VW Golf’s a bit of an obvious choice, but not without good reason – it has some neat touches that set it apart from other family cars

Mat Watson
carwow expert

No matter where you’re driving the VW Golf it’s a doddle. It offers great visibility for the driver in all directions, its pedals are consistently weighted, its gearshift light but precise and it stays pleasingly quiet at high speeds.

If you’re often traveling up and down the motorway then a diesel is a good choice. VW’s 2.0 TDI 150 is strong enough for confident overtaking yet also nicely economical. If you spend more time around town, then the 1.5-litre petrol is well worth considering. It’s as nippy as the diesel, but smoother and quieter.

Rest assured going for an automatic gearbox on your Golf is a good idea if you want one too, as it’s one of the best in the business and barely affects fuel economy or emissions.  

Do keep in mind, though, that more basic Volkswagen Golf models come with a less sophisticated rear suspension set-up meaning they aren’t quite as comfortable over the lumps and bumps you’re likely to find on UK roads.

Regardless of which suspension, gearbox or engine you pick, the VW Golf is a safe car, with a full five-star crash-test rating from Euro NCAP. There’s plenty of safety equipment on even the most basic models and, on top of that, you can add options such as active cruise control, which will maintain a set distance from the car in front.

Whichever way you look at it, you’re onto a winner with the VW Golf. True, it’s more expensive than some alternatives, but when you take into account the quality inside, the frugal engines, modern infotainment systems and do-it-all practicality, it feels worth the extra.

For a more in depth look at the Volkswagen Golf, read our following interior, driving and specifications review sections. See how much you could save by checking out our VW Golf deals.

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