Volkswagen Golf Review

Independent review by Peter Hayward from Driving Force

4-minute read


Volkswagen Golf (2012-2019)

The VW Golf is the definitive textbook hatchback. With excellent refinement, practicality and performance, it's the benchmark for the hatchback class

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  • Sought-after hatchback
  • Superb refinement and practicality
  • Excellent performance GTI and R versions
  • Styling can be dull on low spec models
  • Can be pricey to buy
  • Competition is strong
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What's the VW Golf like?

This version of the Volkswagen Golf, with one facelift, has been around now since 2012 in hatchback, convertible and estate bodystyles, plus the raised estate Alltrack 4x4.

But of course, you can also use the advice here if you’re interested in a Jetta saloon, which is the same under the skin except for a more limited range of engines.

First some basics. Petrol models are likely to come with lower mileages than diesels and could be longer lasting for that reason. And, while the diesels are more economical, they're also more expensive because they’re more sought after.

Also, the petrol engines in this latest Golf are still very economical, so, if you don’t really need diesel, buy one of the much sweeter sounding petrols.



There have been 17 different models of the hatch alone at different times during this Golf production run, so make sure you get the power and the equipment you want before you lay your money down. All engines are turbocharged so the 1.0-litre petrol is available with 85bhp or 115bhp and the previous 1.2-litre had either 85bhp or 105bhp.

Next up the range is a 1.4-litre with either 120bhp, 125bhp or 150bhp and this was replaced by a 1.5-litre with either 130bhp or 150bhp.

There are no 2.0-litre petrol engines in the standard Golf range. These are reserved for the GTi and R models, with power ranging from 230bhp to an amazing 310bhp and, as you can imagine, superb performance. The GTI reaches 60mph in just 6.2 seconds while the ‘R’ does the same in just 4.7 seconds.

Diesel options are a 1.6-litre with either 105bhp, 110bhp or 115bhp at different times and a 2.0-litre with either 147bhp or, in the GTD, 184bhp.

The only mediocre performers in the whole range are the 1.0-litre and 1.2-litre models with 85bhp, which take around 11.5 seconds to get from 0 to 60mph. Above that, even the 1.0-litre with 115bhp manages the sprint in 9.5 seconds and the rest of the petrol models just get better and better.

The Bluemotion economy 1.0-litre will also do 65mpg, while the 1.4-litre and 1.5-litre petrols can manage 55mpg.

In contrast, the 1.6-litre diesel can push that figure up to 70mpg and still go from 0 to 60 mph in around 10 seconds, while the 2.0-litre TDI is claimed to be capable of 65mpg and 0 to 60mph in around 8.3 seconds.

Driving Experience

Most will come with the standard 6-speed manual gearbox, but the DSG automatic is absolutely superb to use, making the changes quicker than you can do it yourself. However, it will be a good deal more expensive.

With the GTI and R models, bear in mind that stiffer suspension does affect the quality of the ride, which is fantastic in all the lower order cars.
Peter Hayward

And despite the fact that those lower order cars ride so well, they also take the corners beautifully, helped by top notch power steering and brilliant handling balance.

Practicality and Equipment

There are too many models to list all the equipment here so when you’re buying just make sure you have everything you want.

Finally, don’t buy without full service history and if anything feels wrong about a car, walk away with your money in your pocket. There are plenty out there.

Find your VW Golf your way with CarStore

If you're in the market for a textbook hatchback that is a great all-rounder, you will not go far wrong with a VW Golf. Add in the superb build quality and refinement and you can see why Golfs have no problem holding their value and are still sought-after on the used car market. Available in 3-door and 5-door, they make an excellent family car or dependable hatchback to suit your lifestyle. The GTI and R models are also fantastic for those who want a car that can do pretty much everything.

Here at CarStore, you're able to buy your car your way. Whether that be online, in-person, or a mix of both, the choice is yours. With an extensive variety of used cars available, we're sure to have a car that suits your lifestyle.