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This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest Volkswagen Golf Hatchback review.

Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

Still the one to have if you're after a dependable family car…

Volkswagen Golf Hatchback (04-08) - rated 4 out of 5
Enlarge 45 photos

PROS

  • Great engines and good to drive
  • Well-finished and spacious interior
  • Plenty of specialist support out there

CONS

  • A class act, but it's not infallible
  • Watch for DMF issues on cars with miles
  • Most rivals are comfortably cheaper

At a glance

New price £11,845 - £21,640
Used price £430 - £4,105
Fuel economy 32 - 62 mpg
Road tax cost £30 - £325
Insurance group 6 - 32 How much is it to insure?

PROS

  • Great engines and good to drive
  • Well-finished and spacious interior
  • Plenty of specialist support out there

CONS

  • A class act, but it's not infallible
  • Watch for DMF issues on cars with miles
  • Most rivals are comfortably cheaper

Volkswagen Golf Hatchback rivals

Volkswagen Golf (2004-2008) used car buying guide

Without wishing to sound too much like a Volkswagen ad, it’s the car other manufacturers tried untiringly to mimic, but never quite managed to equal.
Throughout its life, solid German engineering, practicality and the attraction of that classy Volkswagen badge on the grille have remained constant, which is why the Golf continues to attract buyers.

Perhaps that's why more than rivalss such as the Ford Focus, Honda Civic and Vauxhall Astra, the Golf gets a namecheck as being the must-have family car for so many people.

Due to the instantly recognisable shape of the panel just behind the rear side window, you can trace the design lineage right through from the first model to the current offering.

Volkswagen Golf – not always an icon

That said, the Golf success story hasn’t been without its hiccups. The MkIII from 1991 was a huge let-down after the much-loved and now iconic MkII. Bloated looking and bland, with roly-poly handling, it was safer and boasted more luxuries, but the extra weight ruined the driving experience.

The Golf remains one of the most desirable  family cars you can buy

Thankfully, the MkIV from 1998 was a step back in the right direction. It had sharper handling, more space and a more generous spec list, but soon looked dated both in terms of styling and technology.

That’s where the more rounded MkV from 2004 comes in. As well as its rakish styling, the new Golf was bigger in the back, safer, came with a wider range of engines and transmissions, and, best of all, was much more sophisticated underneath, thanks to a new platform, electric steering, multi-link rear suspension and direct injection for most of the petrol and diesel engines.

Used Volkswagen Golf 2004-2008 review

Volkswagen Golf MkV – honed to perfection

The MkV remained untouched visually during its lifetime, although 
a limited run of 1500 Edition 30 cars 
were released in October 2006 and 
there was another limited edition 
Pirelli model, both of which used a 230bhp version of the GTI engine with beefier turbos and camshafts. Needless to say, both are sought after.

A revelation in many respects, the MkV instantly put the Golf back into contention as the world’s best hatchback. But since the arrival of the MkVI in 2008, MkV values have taken a hit, which means you can buy one for significantly less than you might have thought.

GTI was back on form

The Golf GTI came back with a bang in 2005. Powered by a turbocharged 200hp 2.0T FSI engine, it's smooth, refined and pleasingly quick to drive plus there's a choice of the standard six-speed manual or an optional semi-automatic DSG gearbox. On the road the GTI is simply superb, cornering with accurate precision and providing plenty of surefooted grip.

It looks the part too with styling cues and features such as the chequered seat fabric designed to evoke memories of the original model. Stylish, quick and enjoyable to drive, as hot hatches go, the Golf GTI is firmly back on top. Two special editions, the Edition 30 and Pirelli, offer 30hp more than the standard GTI, along with unique styling touches inside and out.

R32: The ultimate Volkswagen Golf MkV

Volkswagen Golf (2004-2008) used car buying guide

If the thought of a GTI is just a little too everyday, then this could be the Golf for you. It does without the lurid colours and loud bodykits that you'll see elsewhere in the hot hatch world - the only visual difference between this range-topper and a standard Golf are a few subtle styling tweaks and a redesigned front end.

What you do get is one of the fastest and most powerful Golfs ever produced with a 250hp 3.2-litre V6 and four-wheel-drive for excellent grip in all conditions. It's the gentleman's, rather than the boy racer's, hot hatch.

Volkswagen Golf Hatchback rivals

Other Volkswagen Golf (2004 - 2009) models: