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Volkswagen Golf Review | Motors.co.uk

Find out more about the Volkswagen Golf in the latest Motors.co.uk Review

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8
Out of 10
Average Price £14,500
Latest model

Volkswagen has only recently launched the latest version of its iconic Golf. The mk7.5 may look remarkably similar to its previous guise, but it boasts a host of new technologies, which brings it in line with other models in its segment.

One such device is the newly introduced “Discover Pro” infotainment system, which includes Gesture Control. This allows the driver to adjust aspects including sound and song with just a wave of their hand. However, this is the range-topping option, and while lower spec models have received updated infotainment systems, they do not feature such advanced technology.

Another exciting addition is that of Volkswagen’s new turbocharged petrol engine – the 1.5 TSI Evo – which has made its debut in the Golf. The 148bhp four-cylinder turbo features Active Cylinder Management (ACT) and can be coupled with VW’s newly developed 7-speed DSG transmission (which will eventually replace all six-speed DSGs in the Golf range).

Finally, the latest model has received slight styling updates. Newly designed bumpers feature front and rear, LED headlights have replaced the previous Xenon units and full LED tail lights as standard across the range. New colours, wheels and trims are available on the 2017 model, which retains its existing specification levels of S, SE, SE NAV, GT, R-Line, GTD, GTI and R.

History

Volkswagen introduced the Golf in 1974, as a replacement for the similarly iconic Beetle.

Since that first generation Golf rolled off the production line, more than 33 million have been built – two million of which were destined for UK buyers.

According to VW, this equates to one Golf built every 40 seconds for the last 43 years, so it’s unsurprising that the model holds the title of Europe’s most successful car.

The first and second generations are arguably the most iconic, with their angular design and instantly recognisable rectangular grille. By 1992, the third generation had made its debut, sporting a more rounded design and elongated headlights.

The Mk4 was introduced in 1997, the Mk5 in 2003 and the Mk6 in 2008. The seventh generation has been on the market since 2012, and so according to Volkswagen, this latest update was well overdue.

Alongside the standard models, VW has launched variants of the sporty GTI and GTD models, as well as estates, a cabriolet and even a hybrid concept car back in 1989. The first natural gas-powered Golf was launched in 2013, with the e-Golf PHEV following the next year.

Value for money

Volkswagen is shouting about the fact that the new Golf is an average of £650 less across the range than the outgoing model. So while buying a new Mk7.5 might make sense over a new Mk7 model, if you are looking for a higher spec model for less money, a second-hand Golf could be the cheapest option.

This latest Golf costs from £17,625 in the entry level S trim, which boasts spec including a basic media system, Bluetooth connectivity, and a DAB radio. However, for the same price drivers could get their hands on a second-hand 2016 GT model, with less than 10,000 miles on the clock and a host of added options.

Alternatively, a Mk7 model from four years ago can be found in a high spec level for less than £5,000, albeit with high mileage.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, a top level Mk7.5 Golf R costs from £31,865 new. This includes a high spec infotainment and satnav system, winter pack, sports suspension and alloy wheels, among others.

For less than half this price, a 2010 Golf R, with under 50,000 miles on the clock can be found. Considering the longevity of Volkswagen’s vehicles – a number of various generation Golfs have exceeded 1 million kilometres (620,000 miles) – drivers needed worry about this mileage.

Looks and image

A car doesn’t become an icon without a stand out design, and Volkswagen has done well to preserve the essence of the original Golf.

While the angular lines, rectangular grille and round headlights of the diminutive first and second-generation Golfs are long gone, today’s car still shares design elements with its forebears – VW calls this its DNA. The recognizable profile, for example, and the golf ball gear stick have both been seen throughout the generations.

The Golf last underwent a large-scale redesign in 2012, when it graduated from the sixth to seventh generations.

This Mk7 model featured the then-new MQB platform, which it shared with the third generation Audi A3, Seat Leon and Skoda Octavia. While boasting a size increase on its previous guise, it was also 100kg lighter.

The latest Mk 7.5 has received only slight styling updates. It features newly designed bumpers front and rear, LED headlights to replace the previous Xenon units and full LED tail lights as standard across the range. New colours, wheels and trims are available on the 2017 model.

The Golf may not be known as the coolest hatchback in its class, but it does boast a number of advantages over its rivals.

Throughout its life, the ride quality has been supreme, with the chassis swallowing bumps on the road easily. At the same time, the cabin has been quiet – this latest model is quieter than ever – thanks to a combination of excellent soundproofing and low noise powertrains.

The Mk7 saw a handling improvement, due in part to this new platform and weight decrease, and the new seven-speed DSG automatic transmission in the Mk7.5 is smoother than ever.

Interior quality is also of a high level in the Golf. Comfortable seats, high-quality materials and a well-designed interior set it above its similarly priced competitors in this respect.

Space and practicality

The Golf has historically been available in both three and five-door guises. The five-door is obviously the most practical, and in the more recent models, doesn’t come at the expense of the car’s appearance.

As it has developed, the Golf has grown. The Mk7 was the largest yet, with increased rear headroom and larger windows. Boot space is an impressive 380-litres, which increases to 1,270-litres with the rear seats folded down. It appears Volkswagen has thought of everything in this respect, with the boot sloping slightly up behind the rear seats, so that there is no irritating lip for objects to catch on. Alternatively, the floor of the boot can be moved up a notch, to make the rear almost completely flat.

Alongside the large boot, the Golf also features a host of handy cubbyholes, some of which are far larger than those offered in its rivals – the front door pockets can accommodate 2-litre bottles and are lined with material to prevent items from rattling around loudly.

Volkswagen has always been at the forefront of safety. In 1992, Volkswagen introduced front and passenger airbags to the Golf, and four years later ABS became standard across the range. Since 2002, all Golfs featured front, passenger and side airbags. City Emergency Braking

Engines

At the launch of its latest Golf, Volkswagen proudly announced how the Golf is the only car to be offered in all five powertrains – petrol, diesel, hybrid, natural gas, and electric.

The Golf TGI with natural gas drive made its debut in 2013 in the Mk7, with the hybrid e-Golf following the year later. A fully electric model is to go on sale this year.

Diesel options from the brand range from the 1.6-litre 113bhp TDI to the 2.0-litre TDI 181bhp engine found in the high-performance Golf GTD.

The lowest powered petrol is the 1.0-litre, 84bhp TSI, while the highest is the 306bhp 2.0-litre TSI 4Motion found in the Golf R. New in the Mk7.5 Golf is the 1.5 TSI Evo – a 148bhp four-cylinder turbo featuring Active Cylinder Management (ACT), which shuts off two of the cylinders when the engine is under light loads.

Running costs

The most economic of the new Golfs is the 1.6-litre 113bhp TDI, which achieves 68.9mph on a combined cycle, while emitting 106g/km of CO2.

From April 2017, a new Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) system will come into place. All cars will be subject to an annual rate of £140, with a different fee for the first year depending on how many grams of CO2 they emit. In the case of the 1.6-litre TDI, first year’s tax would cost £140, because it produces between 101 and 110 g/km.

At the other end of the scale is the 306bhp 2.0-litre TSI 4Motion powertrain found in the Golf R. Achieving only 37.7mpg, with a six-speed manual transmission, it emits 180g/km. Under the new VED system, it will still be subject to an annual fee of £140, but due to its high emission, for the first year the road tax will be a huge £800.

Things to look out for

A lot of Golf owners report their vehicles to have been in general reliable, with only a few minor issues that needed addressing.

However, there are reports that they are not as reliable as other vehicles on the market, and so it is important to regularly service the car.

Due to its position Europe’s most successful car, parts are readily available for the Golf, and here in the UK are reasonably cheap.

Older models have been reported to have suffered from electrical issues, while Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) vavles have been cited as a cause for problems in the 1.6-litre TDI models.

Rivals

Unfortunately for the Golf, the compact segment is a large one, featuring models from pretty much every car manufacturer.

It excels in some respects, including interior quality, ride, cabin noise, practicality, and thanks to the new Discover Pro infotainment system, technology.

However, try as it might, it cannot beat its competitors in every category. Ford’s Focus, for example, offers a better drive, while Hyundai’s i30 is a cheaper option (new and second hand). The Alfa Romeo Guiletta is a better-looking hatchback, while Audi’s A3 pips the Golf to the post with its premium appeal.

Depreciation warning

As with almost every other car on the market, the Golf will see significant depreciation as it ages. A new model will lose a significant amount of value as soon as it leaves the forecourt, and continue to depreciate at a high rate during its first three years. Within this time the average car – having covered around 10,000 miles a year – will have lost around 60 per cent of its value.

Some cars lose value quicker than others, and as a general rule, diesel models have better residuals than their petrol counterparts, while fuel efficient vehicles also tend to depreciate slower due to a larger demand for cheap-to-run cars.

Volkswagen’s reputation has been marred by the recent emissions scandal, and while not every Golf models were found to have emitted excessive levels of pollutants, two were.

The 1.6 and 2.0-litre TDI models from 2009 to 2015 are those in question. Residual values on these cars may be affected because while the emissions weren’t at an illegal level in the UK (they were in the US), the engines were far more polluting than Volkswagen let on.

Which Golf to Pick

Trims Explained

Volkswagen offers a variety of trims in the Golf, which can be coupled with various powertrains and engines.

S

The cheapest in the Golf line-up is the S model with a 1.0-litre TSI 84bhp powertrain. In three-door guise, and with a five-speed manual gearbox, it costs from under £18,000. It may be entry-level, but the S trim includes Golf’s Composition Media System (CMS), LED rear lights and Electronic Stability Control as standard.

Starting price: £17,625.

SE

The SE furthers the S’s trim, with the addition of Car-Net App-Connect and Driver profile selection, among other upgrades. With the 108bhp 1.0-litre TSI engine and a six-speed manual transmission, it costs from £18,715, in three-door format.

Starting price: £18,715

GT

The GT brings the sporty styling that the lower spec models lack. Seventeen-inch alloy wheels, front sport seats and heat insulating tinted glass are just a few of its stand out features.

With a 113bhp 1.6-litre TDI engine and five-speed manual transmission, the starting price is £22,670.

R-Line

Specific front and rear bumpers, radiator grill, side skirts and alloy wheels give the R-Line a sporty R styling without the premium price of the R. A R-Line leather multifunction steering wheel and sports seats with the R-Line logo continue this sporty impression in the cabin.

With a 148bhp 2.0-litre powertrain, and six-speed manual transmission, this three door model starts from £25,065.

GTD

The GTD ups the anty even further, with the addition of sports suspension, a unique styling pack and all the punch of the GTI, with better diesel fuel economy. VW’s Active Info Display takes the place of analogue dials behind the wheel, while Car-Net App-Connect and the Discover Navigation System also feature.

With an 181bhp 2.0-litre TDI engine, and a six-speed manual gearbox, this model starts at £27,065.

GTI

Similarly to the GTD, the GTI is a high performance hatch, featuring sports suspension, seats and styling. The spec is the same as its diesel sibling.

However, this petrol model costs from £800 more with a 227bhp 2.0-litre TSI powertrain and six-speed manual gearbox.

R

The range-topping R costs in excess of £30,000 for a reason. Powered by a 306bhp 2.0-litre TSI 4Motion powertrain, coupled to a six-speed manual gearbox, it can accelerate to 60mph in just 4.9seconds. Sports suspension, a winter pack, and a host of other impressive equipment comes as standard.

What to look out for

  1. The S model is the cheapest, but also the most basic. Pay slightly more for the SE to receive a host of extra benefits.
  2. The Golf R TSI may be the fastest engine, but it is also the least economic.
  3. The GTI and GTD models are effectively the same car, but the GTI is petrol and the GTD is diesel.
  4. The more recent Golfs look just as good in a five door format as they do in a three-door form.
  5. If you’re looking for a practical Golf, opt for the five-door, or estate model.
  6. All recent engines available in the Golf feature BlueMotion Technologies, which includes a stop-start system and a mode for storing braking energy (regenerative braking).
  7. The mk7.5 may look remarkably similar to its previous guise, but it boasts a host of new technologies, a new engine and subtle styling changes.
  8. VW’s reputation was marred by emissions scandal, but not every diesel is high polluting.
  9. Older models have been reported to have suffered from electrical issues
  10. A fully electric model is to go on sale this year.

Review Rating

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