This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest Volkswagen Golf Hatchback review.

4.5 out of 5 4.5
Parkers overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5

Golf Mk6 still stacks up as a great family hatchback

Volkswagen Golf Hatchback (09-12) - rated 4.5 out of 5
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At a glance

New price £13,485 - £26,795
Used price £1,910 - £11,000
Fuel economy
Not tested to latest standards
View pre-2017 economy specs
Road tax cost £0 - £250
Insurance group 7 - 30 How much is it to insure?

PROS

  • Supremely refined
  • Upmarket interior
  • Good choice of efficient engines

CONS

  • Not particularly exciting to drive
  • Expensive compared to rivals
  • Not as reliable as you think

Volkswagen Golf Hatchback rivals

Written by Keith Adams on

Is the Volkswagen Golf Mk6 any good?

As the old adage goes, 'if it isn't broke, don't fix it,' and that was certainly the path Volkswagen followed with the Golf Mk6. The sixth-generation Volkswagen Golf was technically an all-new car but shared much with the previous model - so much of what you'll read in the buying guide for that car will hold true on this one.

In terms of styling the Golf Mk6 was hardly revolutionary, and on the move it was more of the same. Not quite as enjoyable to drive as a Ford Focus but leading the way for sophistication among family hatchbacks. There were quite a few advancements including a sizeable reduction in refinement.

More than that, the Mk6 was a step forward for the Golf, cementing its position as thehatchback for grown-ups – classless, capable and dependable. It's an image the Golf still trades on to this day.

What's it like inside?

Volkswagen gave the Golf its most upmarket interior yet with finishes and materials usually associated with premium executive cars. It was a big success. Even now, the wonderfully comfortable cabin exudes quality with neat air conditioning controls, a stylish touchscreen stereo system and easy to read white-backlit dials.

The design is similar to the previous model but was better built, while all the switchgear had a slick feel. The driving position was superb too, with plenty of adjustment in both the seat and steering column while all round visibility is good. The seats are comfortable and supportive, there's a decent amount of legroom in the back for rear passengers plus all cars come with air conditioning as standard.

Practicality

Boot space is identical to the previous model with 350 litres available with the rear seats in place and 1,305 litres with them folded down. This isn't as large as alternatives like the Honda Civic or Ford Focus but it's more than adequate for everyday use and happily swallows a couple of medium sized suitcases.

Compared to the old model, the boot opening is wider making it easier to load bulky items while up front there are cavernous door pockets with sculpted bottle holders, a good-sized glovebox and a large central cubby.

What's it like to drive?

Volkswagen Golf performance levels are strong right across the range. The entry level engine in the Golf Mk6 was a 1.4-litre unit with 80hp, which is joined by a 1.6-litre with 105hp. Both engines have been carried over from the previous Golf but with tweaks to make them slightly more economical. However, for its more powerful engines Volkswagen has concentrated on improving efficiency while still making them enjoyable to drive.

As a result the top-of-the-range petrol is only a 1.4-litre, but it's a TSI engine. This means it uses a turbocharger and a supercharger to deliver an impressive 160hp and a 0-62mph time of 8.0 seconds - while still averaging 45mpg. It's a great engine to drive with plenty of punchy performance low down and a free-revving nature that's enjoyable to exploit.

There's also a less powerful 122hp version (that uses a single turbocharger) which will cover the 0-62mph benchmark in 9.5 seconds - but feels much quicker than the figures suggest with great in-gear performance. The diesel choice starts a 1.6 TDI and there are several versions available. The first is an entry level 90bhp offered in S trim only while the second has 105hp and is also available with a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox - both return 63mpg.

In October 2009 the popular BlueMotion model was uprated. Also powered by the 1.6 TDI engine it features a styling kit to improve aerodynamics (and make it more attractive) along with an engine start/stop system and longer gear ratios.

As a result emissions are lowered to just 99g/km of CO2, making it free to tax, while official fuel economy improved to 74mpg, meaning an easy 65mpg in the real world. There was also a 2.0 TDI engine with 110hp, while a 140bhp version of the same engine is available. Both are quiet and refined with plenty of low-down grunt and a smooth power delivery. The top diesel is the 2.0 TDI with 170bhp available exclusively in the GTD model.

It delivers its power incredibly smoothly and there's no lag at low revs as on the older TDI engines from Volkswagen. As a result it's excellent to drive with plenty of power across the rev range making overtaking simple. It's quick from 0-62mph too with a time of 8.1 seconds yet the best part is fuel economy of 53mpg.

Handling

Safe and comfortable best sums up driving the Golf - it corners neatly with precise and well-weighted steering while there's only minimal body roll. It's incredibly reassuring and never loses its composure, even if you have to suddenly brake or change direction, while the standard stability control will prevent the car from losing traction or skidding.

It's an enjoyable car to drive along a twisting road, with the ability to effortlessly flow between corners plus there's plenty of grip too. An adjustable suspension system is available as an optional extra - called ACC (which stands for Adaptive Chassis Control) it uses pneumatics to control the suspension and allows the driver to choose between comfort, normal and sport.

Changing the setting, which also alters the steering and throttle response, makes a noticeable difference and the comfort mode is particularly good for rough surfaces. However with the standard ride striking such a good balance between ride and handling there seems little point paying extra for it.

Ownership and running costs

Prices for the entry level 1.4 S model are competitive with alternatives, plus it's fairly well equipped, but you need to upgrade to an SE to get extras such as climate control and electric rear windows. All the engines are economical - even the 1.4 TSI with 160hp, while insurance groups are in line with similar-sized cars. However, Volkswagen servicing and parts tend to be on the pricey side.

Overall Volkswagen Golf running costs are affordable particularly if you opt for the diesels, which will have better resale values. Historically, Volkswagen Golf reliability is better than average and it was an improvement over the Mk5, which suffered some engine issues in TSI models. The majority of the engines have been proven in either the previous Golf or other models and so will doubtless prove reliable.

Safety

With seven airbags as standard (including a knee airbag for the driver) the Golf is one of the safest cars in its class and all models come with ESP stability control as standard. Like its predecessor it was awarded a five-star rating by Euro NCAP for adult occupant safety along with four stars for child safety. The Golf also features faster sensors for the airbags and seatbelt tensioners along with Brake Assist, ABS, new whiplash reducing headrests, side impact protection and a stronger chassis structure than ever before.

Volkswagen Golf safety levels are fantastic then and buyers can specify rear side airbags and sensors for the rear occupants that allow the driver to check that those in the back are wearing their seatbelts.

Volkswagen Golf Hatchback rivals

Other Volkswagen Golf (2009 - 2016) models: