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Volkswagen Golf review

2020 onwards (change model)
Parkers overall rating: 3.6 out of 53.6
” The benchmark hatchback is no longer best in class “

At a glance

Price new £26,760 - £31,160
Used prices £11,342 - £29,137
Road tax cost £180 - £190
Insurance group 14 - 27
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Fuel economy 38.2 - 67.3 mpg
Miles per pound 5.6 - 8.6
View full specs for a specific version

Available fuel types

Petrol

Diesel

Alternative fuel

Pros & cons

PROS
  • Wide range of engines and models
  • High-tech interior with online connectivity
  • Solid image and reputation
CONS
  • Digital cockpit might be off-putting
  • Simpler suspension on cheaper cars
  • Some interior plastics feel underwhelming

Written by Keith Adams Published: 15 December 2022 Updated: 20 March 2023

Overview

The Volkswagen Golf has enjoyed its post as one of the bestselling family hatchbacks in Europe for decades. There’s no denying that this one holds slightly less of a place in our hearts than its brilliant predecessor, but it’s still an impressively competent and well-developed family car with the broadest possible appeal. Put simply, there should be a Golf to suit all needs, tastes and bank balances.

With familiar styling, up-to-the-minute driver tech, and the best engines on offer from the Volkswagen Group, the Mk8 is everything that the maximum number people possible need in their car. And it needs to be good – although VW is now concentrating on its electric future with the ID.3 hatchback, the Golf is still hugely important, so it needs to be good.

The thing is – the opposition has never been stronger, with rivals coming from volume and premium carmakers. It tackles mainstream rivals such as the Parkers award-winning Honda Civic, Ford Focus, Vauxhall AstraPeugeot 308, Kia Ceed, Hyundai i30Mazda 3 and the brilliant Skoda Octavia, as well as the pricier players, such as the Audi A3, BMW 1 Series and Mercedes-Benz A-Class. To shine in this company takes something very special indeed.

Volkswagen has packed the latest Golf with a generous level of standard equipment, in part justifying the higher starting prices. The entry-level model is now badged Life, which replaces the previous S specification, while the plusher SE is ousted by the Style grade. Sportier-looking R-Line models continue.

Life models’ equipment roster includes 16-inch alloy wheels in a design called Norfolk, automatic wipers and LED headlamps, front and rear parking sensors and a very slick 10.25-inch digital instrument panel and a 10.0-inch multimedia touchscreen. For the R-Line, there are 17-inch Valencia alloy wheels, lowered sports suspension, bigger black grilles in the front bumper, sports front seats with larger side bolsters and a darkened headlining for a moodier cabin ambience.

Over the next few pages we’ll be thoroughly reviewing all aspects of the VW Golf and rating them in our verdict. Our scores will take into account the driving experience, how pleasant the interior is, the practicality on offer and what it’ll cost you to run.