This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest Volkswagen Golf Hatchback review.

Parkers overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5
  • Upmarket feel to the whole interior
  • Almost every surface is good to touch
  • Clear, logical layout to controls

It’s all about quality and clarity here and almost every component smacks of it. From the clear and easy-to-read instruments through to the high-quality colour LCD displays and the neatly laid out switchgear, everything is incredibly intuitive and simple-to-use.

It’s also worth noting that an optional 9.2-inch touchscreen became available in 2017 featuring a glass front and super-sensitive display, as well as a powerful processor and gesture control alongside a vast suite of apps. This system should be right at the cutting edge of infotainment systems, but a lack of physical buttons hampers its usability. Cheaper systems, with a pair of rotary knobs, are much easier to use on the move.

Driver-focused dashboard

The centre console is subtly angled towards the driver – something you only really notice from the passenger seat – ensuring those behind the wheel always feel totally engrossed in the experience. And as you’d expect for a VW, the switchgear that decorates it feels of very high quality, with well-damped feedback from every finger press and twisting rotation.

Likewise the quality of materials used elsewhere in the cabin are exemplary. Soft touch plastics dominate, with less glitzy finishes found only where the hand is less likely to stray – otherwise every other contact point feels reassuringly more expensive than the car’s list price would suggest.

Even entry-level models don't feel basic

Golfs at the lower end of the specification spectrum still feel a cut above the competition in this corner of the market. There’s no need to pay for the upgrade for the full leather upholstery, either: the cloth trims pull off managing to look expensive and high quality.

However, you may be interested in the Active Info Display, an all-digital instrument cluster introduced as part of the 2017 facelift. This premium technology feature adds a touch of wow with its multiple display modes, but can be harder on the eyes at night.

GTI models tastefully dressed

Sportier GTI versions brings a subtle red theme in the cabin, with stitching on the steering wheel, gear lever gaiter and on the seats, complementing the traditional tartan upholstery. It's a throwback to the original GTI from 1976, but it feels right rather than unnecessarily retro.

Comfort isn't compromised by fine handling

  • Impressive optional adaptive suspension
  • Cabin is quiet, with supportive seats
  • Even sportier Golfs display great comfort

Comfort is one of the Volkswagen Golf’s hallmarks, and that’s true whether you’re going for one of the mainstream models or a sportier GTD, GTE, GTI or R. The seats, be they the standard variety, the ErgoComfort ones or the sports numbers support you very well, with a wide range of adjustment to obtain a fine seating position.

Those sports seats in particular perform a neat trick of feeling properly figure-hugging, but with enough support and comfort to take the pain out of longer journeys.

Good for ride quality

Of primary note should be the ride quality, which even on the larger alloy wheels and sports suspension is better than other family hatchbacks. No matter what is thrown at the dampers, they soak up imperfections, no matter how sharp, short, extreme or gradual with instant response and assured reactions.

Blue Volkswagen Golf R Hatchback side profile

Models fitted with the optional Adaptive Chassis Control, which allows the driver to select between Comfort, Normal and Sport modes for the suspension, perform even better. The degree of compliance in Comfort mode in the sportier Golfs really impresses.

On the motorway it feels right at home, the engine barely audible at a steady throttle, as the suspension smothers any unsightly expansion gaps in the road surface. There’s very little in the way of noticeable wind noise either and, despite the large wheels and tyres fitted, road noise is kept to a minimum also.