Volkswagen Golf Review logo

Volkswagen Golf Review

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heycar review

      Launch year
      2020
      Body type
      Family hatch
      Fuel type
      Petrol, Diesel
heycar editorial team

Written by

heycar editorial team

00/10
heycar rating
“Classy, very competent family car”

Best bits

  • Stylish, comfortable and spacious interior
  • Even the most affordable models are well-equipped
  • Running costs won’t break the bank

Not so great

  • Media system is irritating to use on the move
  • Some surprisingly flimsy interior plastics
  • Pricier than a Ford Focus

Read by

Volkswagen Golf Front Side View

Overall verdict

Volkswagen Golf interior

On the inside

Volkswagen Golf Rear View

Driving

Volkswagen Golf Side Rear View

How much does it cost to run

Volkswagen Golf side profile

Prices, versions and specification

Overall verdict

"The Volkswagen Golf has more competition than ever, yet it remains at the top of its class. It’s good to drive, has a sharp interior and we quite like how it looks, too. It’s loaded with standard equipment, including a navigation system which looks brilliant but is a little irritating to use on the move. Still, that’s one of the few things we can find wrong with it..."

Volkswagen Golf Front Side View


The Volkswagen Golf has been the default choice of family car buyers for decades. Now in its eighth generation, the latest model is packed with digital tech and has a stylish cabin that could rival more expensive rivals. There’s a wide range of engines on offer and even the most affordable models are loaded with standard equipment.


So what’s the catch? Prices for a new Golf start at more than £23,000 - which is a chunk more than competitors like the Ford Focus, Honda Civic and Mazda 3. But it feels like a premium product, very nearly in the same league as the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series. And, thanks to the wonders of depreciation, you can pick one up for Vauxhall Astra money…


The standard Golf range is made up of three models: the Life, Style and R-Line. The Life really doesn’t feel like an entry-level model (but neither does it have an entry-level price tag, you could argue). Standard equipment includes a 10-inch media system (we’ll come onto that shortly…), an impressive digital instrument cluster and fancy ambient interior lighting.


The higher-spec models really start to knock on the doors of those premium alternatives. The Style gets various cosmetic upgrades including 17-inch alloy wheels and some chrome exterior trim, while the R-Line features a host of bespoke exterior detailing, selectable drive modes and sports seats embossed with the R-Line logo.


All Golf models get a superb interior, with classy chrome finishes and a minimalist appearance. The media system really looks the part, with instant wow factor thanks to its sharp graphics and smartphone-like useability. It loses favour as soon as you try to use it on the move, however - a lack of conventional buttons means it can be distracting and awkward to operate on a bumpy road.


Buyers on a budget are catered for with a diddy little 1.0-litre turbocharged engine. It punches well above its weight in terms of performance, while - like all of the Golf’s engine line-up - it’ll pretty economical, too.


The 1.5-litre petrol will sell in bigger numbers. It’s available with a variety of power outputs and manual or automatic gearboxes - the latter with mild-hybrid technology to improve efficiency. There’s also the usual ultra-efficient 2.0-litre diesel engines which will suit high-mileage drivers well.


Just like every other Volkswagen Golf before it, the latest model feels solid and competent to drive. You can’t chuck it around like a Mazda 3 or Ford Focus, but it feels reassuringly solid - leaning less in the bends than crossover SUV alternatives like the T-Roc.


You’ll pay more for a Volkswagen Golf over most family hatchbacks, but it’s worth every penny. Sure, it’s not without its faults, but nothing really beats it as an overall package.


If you're looking for the older version, you need our Volkswagen Golf (2013-2020) review.

Is the Volkswagen Golf right for you?

The Volkswagen Golf is so good at what it does yet totally inoffensive with it, it’s hard to imagine a buyer it wouldn’t suit down to the ground. From aspirational go-getters to family buyers looking for a touch of class, the Golf will look good on anyone’s driveway.


Not that it’s perfect for everyone. If you like to use a physical button to adjust the temperature or change the volume, you might wish to look elsewhere. And, like most hatchbacks of this size, it might be a bit of a push to use as your main family car - it’s going to feel pretty cramped with two adults, a pair of children and luggage for a weekend away. But then, there is an estate version on its way...

What’s the best Volkswagen Golf model/engine to choose?

The Volkswagen Golf is so well-equipped that most buyers won’t really need anything more than the most affordable Golf Life. It ticks all the boxes, really: a flashy infotainment system, the digital dash and bits of chrome trim to lift the cabin. Sure, the Style and R-Line models look a bit flashier, but only you can decide if that’s worth paying extra for.


In terms of engines, the 1.5-litre petrol will suit the majority of buyers. It’s available with a variety of power outputs and manual or automatic gearboxes. There isn’t a bad choice, really - it comes down to personal preference. The diesels are fine if you cover lots of miles but don’t bother if most of your journeys are around town.


What other cars are similar to the Volkswagen Golf?

The Volkswagen Golf might be one of the best family cars on the market, but there’s no shortage of very good alternatives for your consideration.


We’d recommend a look at the latest Mazda 3. It’s not the most practical choice and its engines aren’t as good as the Golf’s, but it has a superb cabin and is more rewarding to drive. There’s also the Ford Focus, which has always lived in the shadow of the Golf in terms of quality, but the latest model is very good and - like the Mazda - it’s fun to drive. You could also look at Volkswagen Group alternatives, like the very similar SEAT Leon and the bigger (and more practical Skoda Octavia).


The Volkswagen Golf isn’t far off competing with more premium rivals, too. It’s very nearly in the same league as the pricier Audi A3, while we reckon it’s as good as the BMW 1 Series in many ways. If you’d like a more upmarket choice, the Mercedes A-Class is definitely worth a look.


Learn more

Volkswagen Golf interior

On the inside

Volkswagen Golf Rear View

Driving

Volkswagen Golf Side Rear View

How much does it cost to run

Volkswagen Golf side profile

Prices, versions and specification