Independent Reviews of Volkswagen Golf New and Used Cars

The following reviews are available:

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‘PLUG & PLAY’

Added 9th March, 2020

By Jonathan Crouch

So: the best of both worlds, at the push of a button. Is that what we've got here? Pretty much, yes. The Volkswagen Group weren't the first to bring us the benefits of plug-in motoring but they were the first to really perfect it - or at least perfect it as far as was possible in the 2016-2019 period within the limits of the then-available battery technology. As a result, if you're a used car buyer who's never thought much of electric mobility as an automotive solution, here's a model we think might convert you. Everything's so straightforward - so normal. Just leave the thing in its 'Hybrid Auto' setting and you'll get diesel-like fuel economy with a real surging turn of pace when you need it. Even if you never once plugged this car in, you'd probably be perfectly happy with what you had. So no, you don't have to press buttons and select menu options to enjoy and benefit from GTE motoring. But devoted owners will want to do that. These people will see ownership as being all about mastering and getting the most from the Plug-in hybrid concept. For them, there'll be nothing normal about what this Volkswagen can do. They'll talk of its silent all-electric operation. Or running costs that decimate their annual tax payments and see a potential three-figure range achievable from every gallon. Or maybe the way in which when used for short journeys, it can make fuel station visits a thing of the past. It's all deceptively unique. It's all a taste of the future - but in a car very much for today.

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‘THE ORIGINAL & THE BEST?’

Added 4th February, 2020

By Jonathan Crouch

When the Golf GTI was first launched in 1976, Volkswagen wondered whether it would struggle to sell an early production run of 5,000 vehicles. By 2012, two million sales later, the issue the issue the brand faced was not whether this car would sell, but who might buy it. After all, previous to 2012, this model had mainly sold to folk who, if they were honest, would probably admit to having out-grown the shopping rocket genre it originally created. In 7th generation form, this car needed to return a little to its roots - add an old fashioned dose of fun into the mature mix. It did. You might not know that from the figures. In all the dynamic measures that tend to matter to hot hatch drivers - 0-62mph acceleration, top speed, lap times, lateral grip, braking performance and so on - this Golf never really seriously bothers the class best. You might not be immediately arrested by the looks either, or the initial experience on the drive round the block. But persevere. Forty years of experience in creating a car of this kind has to count for something. It does. Importantly, Wolfsburg didn't here make the mistake of developing this GTI for the track rather than the road, so bumpy British tarmac doesn't bother it. You're always confident in pushing the performance envelope in a way that few rivals can match, yet that's possible without the sweaty palms that usually characterise red mist motoring. MK5 and MK6 Golf GTI models were also accomplished in this way, but with its extra power, lighter lithe responses and brilliantly sorted suspension, this MK7 version can not only be a confident performance car but a credibly exciting one too. So yes, it should sell to folk who want a proper hot hatch experience as well as a very mature one. The very first generation version set out to define a fundamental standard for performance that was more precise than any other compact car. So it is here. Long after the novelty of some rivals has worn off, this GTI will always feel a class act. Crucially though, in this form, it's also a very entertaining one.

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‘GOLF LESSONS’

Added 16th December, 2019

By Jonathan Crouch

In the words of a previous Volkswagen Group Chairman, the only mistake a Golf can really make is to stop being a Golf, a failing you could never level at this improved post-2017-era seventh generation model. All the reasons you might want to buy one secondhand are satisfied here. So there are classy looks, a meticulously-crafted interior and all the quality you'd expect from the Western hemisphere's most recognised and most desired family hatch. This is what happens when all the resources of Europe's leading auto maker are focused on creating the definitive expression of conventional family motoring. True, it could be more exciting in its more affordable forms - and you certainly wouldn't call it inexpensive in comparison with mainstream models in this segment from the 2017-2019 era. Volkswagen's argument in response is that by 2017, this car had become as good in every meaningful respect as pricier premium compact hatch models from prestige brands. There's some truth in that. Certainly when it comes to media connectivity and electronic safety provision, this improved post-2017-era Golf has a premium feel. As before though, most of the really clever features are optional and you've to find a highly-trimmed example if you're to get a Golf that really feels luxurious. If that doesn't bother you, then with this Volkswagen, you'll be getting a family hatch with quality that runs deep. For nearly half a century, this car's been a benchmark in the segment it originally helped to create. Nothing's changed in that regard. And it probably never will.

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