Volkswagen Golf variants
Total price
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Volkswagen Golf Mk8 review – is it the best family hatchback?

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Finance representative example (PCP)

Total cash price £23,999. Borrowing £19,199 with a £4,800 deposit at a representative APR of 12.9%.

49 monthly payments
£319.88
Fixed interest rate
12.9%
Total amount payable
£31,800.17
Cost of credit
£7,801.17
Optional final payment
£11,646.00
Annual mileage limit
6000 miles

Volkswagen Golf buying guide

There are flavours of Golf to suit every buyer, whether you’re looking for a mile-munching diesel, a city-friendly petrol hybrid, or one of the lightning-quick GTI or R variants. Read on to learn more about this family favourite.

What Volkswagen Golf trim levels are there?

The entry-level trim for pre-2020 VW Golfs is called the S. Despite its affordable positioning in the lineup, you still get a few choice features including air conditioning and DAB radio.

SE is the next step up for pre-2020 Golfs and adds some neat extras. Key additions include alloy wheels and a reversing camera to make ownership a little easier.

Match is a popular mid-range trim available on pre-2020 VW Golfs. It includes handy extras such as parking sensors and electric folding mirrors. You can also get the popular Match Edition, which upgrades the package with heated seats and climate control. Moving towards the top of the Golf trim lineup is the GT model, available on pre-2020 Golfs. This gets larger alloy wheels and sat nav as standard. GT Edition brings heated seats into the equation.

Life trim can be considered an entry-level model for 2020 and newer VW Golfs. Air conditioning, cruise control and Bluetooth connectivity all come as standard.

Style is an upgraded trim for 2020 and newer VW Golfs. Style brings larger alloy wheels compared with Life, along with upgrading the cabin with full climate control and parking sensors.

R-Line trim is the choice for buyers that want a sporty-looking Golf, without the thirsty engines of the GTI and R models. R-Line models get large alloy wheels and a mean-looking body kit to help them stand out, along with sports seats inside to keep you in place around tight corners.

Volkswagen Golf interior and technology

If you’re in the market for a VW Golf, you might well be looking at both later versions of the seventh-generation Golf sold until 2020, and early versions of the eighth-generation Golf, sold from 2020 onwards. Whichever version you pick, you get a reassuring feeling of solidity from every button, switch and panel in the cabin.

Pre-2020 Golfs use a touchscreen infotainment system in the middle of the dashboard. This system is relatively advanced, with the option to mirror your smartphone’s screen via Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. Aside from all the typical infotainment functions, a party-piece here is the screen’s ability to detect when your finger is close, bringing up previously hidden options for you to click on, helping to declutter the screen.

2020 and onwards Golfs take an already neat cabin concept and tidy it up, removing even more buttons and moving the centre touchscreen higher up towards the driver's eyeline. Both eighth and seventh-gen Golfs can be equipped with a digital dashboard replacing the traditional dials in front of the driver, but this feature is standard across all eighth-gen versions.

There is good head and legroom for two rear-seat passengers, though they’ll find their elbows bump if you try to fit three across the back row. Boot space is also more than adequate, able to accommodate suitcases, pushchairs, or a small dog with ease.

Volkswagen Golf engine range explained

(Most popular!) Volkswagen Golf 1.5 TSI EVO petrol

Among the most popular engine choices in the VW Golf lineup is the 1.5-litre TSI. This turbo petrol unit comes in 130 or 150hp versions and can run on half its cylinders to reduce energy consumption – as denoted by the EVO part of its name. This is a great all-round engine with a good blend of performance and efficiency.

Volkswagen Golf 1.0 TSI petrol

Many entry-level Golfs are powered by the company’s 1.0-litre TSI unit. That might sound small for this size of car but, thanks to a turbocharger, this engine is enough to help the Golf get around town without feeling lazy. It might feel a little more strained at overtaking speeds, but will still be plenty for most buyers.

Volkswagen Golf 1.6 TDI diesel

If you regularly take longer trips, you might want to look at the 1.6-litre diesel fitted to some entry-level and mid-range pre-2020 Golfs. Average fuel economy for this engine is as high as 69mpg if you drive with a light right foot, and there’s still decent enough performance that it won’t feel slow.

Volkswagen Golf 2.0 TDI diesel

If you want the long-legged cruising ability of diesel, but would like a little more performance for motorway overtaking, VW’s 2.0-litre diesel makes a great choice. This 150hp unit is noticeably more brawny than the 1.6, making it a better choice especially if you will do some occasional towing.

Volkswagen Golf GTI Performance 2.0 TSI 245

As the Golf is an icon among hatches, it makes sense that the Golf GTI is an icon among hot hatches. The latest version uses a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine that’s widely featured across the VW group lineup but, in this form, has 245hp. The 0-62mph sprint is completed in around six seconds regardless of whether you pick the six-speed manual or slick DSG automatic gearbox.

Volkswagen Golf GTD 2.0 TDI

If you fancy hot hatch thrills but still have long motorway journeys to cover, consider the Golf GTD. This keeps the high-performance kit from the GTI but swaps in a meaty 2.0-litre diesel that makes 184hp in pre-2020 models and an even 200hp in newer versions. Strong acceleration remains but efficiency jumps to just shy of 60mpg.

Volkswagen Golf R 2.0 TSI

This is the ‘papa bear’ choice in the Golf lineup – the meanest and most powerful engine you can buy. R models use the familiar 2.0-litre petrol found elsewhere in the lineup but, this time, with the wick turned all the way up to 11. Pre-2020 Golf Rs have 300hp while newer versions up this to a mighty 320hp, meaning you can hit 62mph from rest in a supercar-baiting 4.7 seconds.

Your Volkswagen Golf questions answered

Modern VW Golfs come in two forms – a five-door hatchback and a slightly more practical five-door estate. You can also get an MPV called the Golf SV, which uses the same parts and engines but gives you a slightly larger cabin and boot.

The Golf is slightly less than 4.3 metres long, making it a similar size to the Ford Focus or Peugeot 308. That means there’s a good amount of room for four adults inside, although it’ll be a little tighter if you squeeze five in. The boot has enough space for around two large suitcases, but less than you’ll find in an SUV such as the VW Tiguan.

All engines in the Golf range are smooth and efficient for their class. High-performance versions, in particular, offer licence-baiting acceleration without much of a fuel economy penalty.

The Volkswagen Golf has always been seen as a reliable, dependable car, but the latest ‘Mk8’ version hasn’t done so well in some reliability surveys, such as Driver Power. Most issues seem to be software glitches that should be fixed with a trip to a dealer, rather than major faults with the mechanicals. If you’re in any doubt, consider taking out an extended warranty for additional peace of mind.

A brand-new Golf starts at over £25,000 and rises to around £29,000, while the performance versions – GTI, GTD, GTE and R – start from around £37,000 and top out at nearly £43,000. Nearly new examples are now well under £20,000 and start from around £230 per month on PCP finance.

You might pay more for parts and servicing for a Golf than for something like a Ford Focus or Kia Ceed but, on the whole, you won’t need to break the bank to keep a nearly new Golf running. Some parts, like the fancy headlights, can cost a lot of money – but that’s true of its rivals as well. Look out for VW deals on servicing to keep the cost of routine garage visits in check.

The Golf is a comfortable, economical, spacious, safe and refined car, but so is the Polo – and the Polo is cheaper to run and much cheaper to insure. With insurance costs for first-time drivers often being sky high, it doesn’t make much sense opting for the Golf over the Polo.

The Golf starts in group 14 out of 50 for the Life trim with a 1.0-litre petrol engine. Choosing a more powerful engine and a better-specced trim level push the insurance group up a little. Understandably, the hot hatch versions sit in a much higher group – the range-topping Golf R sits in group 31.