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Parkers overall rating: 4.8 out of 5 4.8

Quite simply the best car in this class


  • Spacious yet compact
  • Efficient range of engines
  • GTI and R provide thrills
  • Luxurious feel


  • Expensive to buy
  • Options are pricey
  • Evolutionary styling


One hallmark of the Volkswagen Golf that’s been as true of the original back in 1974, as it is this seventh-generation model of today, is that it’s a car for everyone.

That might sound a little odd given that it’s more expensive to buy than many of its rivals. But given the range of equipment on offer, the breadth of the petrol, diesel, hybrid and electric range of powerplants and the sporting mainstays of the Golf GTI and Golf R, it’s difficult not to find a version that won’t suit you.

Battling in the fiercely competitive lower-medium hatchback segment, the Golf’s primarily up against the collective might of the Ford Focus and the Vauxhall Astra.

But this class also contains other talents such as the Honda Civic, Hyundai i30, Kia Cee’d, Mazda 3, Peugeot 308 and Renault Megane, as well as in-house rivals, the SEAT Leon and Skoda Octavia.

Pricier Golfs will also find themselves being compared with its Audi A3 Sportback sister car, as well as the BMW 1 Series, Infiniti Q30, Lexus CT and Mercedes-Benz A-Class.

We ran one as a long-termer - read more here

Evolutionary Golf styling

Golfs have tended to be conservative choices, and hence why the design bloodline is common to all seven generations.

This version’s larger than the model it replaced but it’s still a compact hatchback compared with many rivals thanks to its near-vertical tail.

That hasn’t hampered either cabin space or practicality, with one of the roomiest interiors in this segment. It has a 380-litre boot – not the largest in this segment, but the 60:40 split-folding rear seat does tumble flat for added flexibility.

If you need more space there’s always the pseudo-MPV Volkswagen Golf SV, or for all-out carrying ability in this family, the capacious Golf Estate.

Inside you’ll find the high-quality ambiance VW’s become acclaimed for. It has an exemplary level of fit and finish, with premium-grade squidgy plastics employed for much of the dashboard.

Broad range of Golf powerplants

Boasting one of the widest line-ups of engine options in this market sector, you’ll be struggling to not find a Golf that satisfies your requirements.

Every petrol- and diesel-engined version is turbocharged for both power and efficiency. All feature Volkswagen’s BlueMotion fuel-saving measures, including stop-start.

Petrol engines start with a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder TSI with 115hp, while the rest of the mainstream range is fleshed out with four-cylinder TSIs of 1.2- (85hp) and 1.4-litre (125hp and 150hp) capacities. The larger of them, is also available with ACT – Active Cylinder Technology – to effectively shut off half the engine when it’s not needed.

Both the Golf GTI and R performance versions feature 2.0-litre TSI turbo petrol engines producing between 220hp and 300hp depending upon the version chosen. This is good enough for a top speed of 155mph and a sub-5.0 second 0-62mph time for the quickest.

VW upped the ante even further with a stripped-out and strictly limited edition Golf GTI Clubsport S in 2016, boasting 310hp and a top speed of 164mph.

For those seeking diesel power, the 1.6-litre TDI comes in 110hp form, while the 2.0-litre version is available in outputs of 150hp or 184hp if you opt for the sportier Golf GTD. Official fuel consumption claims rate the BlueMotion version at 83.1mpg.

If the ability to drive with electric propulsion is key, then there are two choices: the plug-in hybrid Golf GTE is a sportier take on the familiar theme while the e-Golf is a pure EV (electric vehicle) with no conventional engine at all – the claimed range is 118 miles between recharges.

Golf trim levels aplenty

That wide range of power options is combined with a plethora of trim levels to help tailor your Golf even more to your liking. The specification hierarchy starts at S and progresses through BlueMotion, Match Edition, Match BlueMotion Edition, e-Golf, GT Edition, R-Line Edition, GTD, GTE and GTI through to the range-topping Golf R.

All versions are well-equipped with air-con complete with rear-passenger air-vents, height-adjustment on both front seats, a colour touchscreen for the infotainment system with DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity, and seven airbags.

There’s also a wealth of extra-cost options to pore over to tailor your Golf closer to your specific needs, be it enhancing safety or upgrading the infotainment system.

Facelift for 2017

At the end of 2016, VW revealed a facelifted Golf due on sale next spring. Visually the alterations appear limited to new bumpers and lights which employ a higher proportion of LED technology, but under-the-skin changes are more important.

There’s gesture-control for the upgraded multimedia system that doesn’t require physical touches of the screen, fully electronic instrumentation and a new 1.5-litre TSI petrol engine in 130hp and 150hp guises.

Read the full Volkswagen Golf review to see how dominant the hatchback benchmark is.

What owners say about this car

Decent sized boot, good load space with rear seats folded. Read owner review

Excellent handling, and very comfortable. Excellent driving position. Read owner review

A lot of space, not as much as the MK5 Golf in the boot, but a lot comfier in the... Read owner review

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