Volkswagen Golf Review

Volkswagen Golf
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finder score: 82.00%

Avg. critics score: 82.00%
4 critics
How did we calculate this? We analysed and aggregated the scores of Cars Guide, WhichCar, Car Advice and Drive to bring you the finder.com.au score. This is a comprehensive score that brings together the four different expert ratings you see below.
Finder.com.au is personal finance comparison site that provides you with the tools you need to make better decisions. Learn
how we work and how we make money.

Critic reviews

Website Rating Notable quotes
Drive 75% "In the end, the Golf excels away from spec sheet analysis, with built-in refinement and road-holding that's hard to fault and ensures it lives up to its 'premium for the people' tagline." Read more
WhichCar 90% "Petrol and diesel Golfs perform strongly, and their turbocharged engines use very little fuel. Options extend to a customisable digital instrument panel. Broadly effective auto braking is standard." Read more
Cars Guide 83% "Volkswagen has hit all the right marks to bring its already excellent offering up to the pointy end of the intensely competitive small-car segment." Read more
Motoring 80% "New infotainment systems and active safety features set the updated Golf 7.5 apart from the Golf 7 it replaces. But in Australia, Volkswagen’s refreshed small car appears more a case of ‘steady-as-she-goes’." Read more

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How does the Volkswagen Golf compare with its peers?

Updated June 17th, 2019
Name Product Boot displacement ANCAP rating Price (from) Finder Score Read review
280L
5 stars
$17,190
82.6%
250L
5 stars
$14,990
82.5%
378L
5 stars
$19,990
82.2%
380L
5 stars
$22,840
82%
445L
5 stars
$21,490
81.2%
414L
5 stars
$22,390
78.6%
242L
5 stars
$15,990
76%
589L
5 stars
$20,190
71%

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The complete Volkswagen Golf review

Volkswagen Golf pricing

With prices starting at $23,990 before on-road costs, the Golf is available as a hatch, a compact wagon and an all-wheel drive (Alltrack) variant. This review focuses on the hatch and the Golf wagon, which are available in the following trims:

Golf and Golf wagon pricing
110TSI Trendline (six-speed manual) 110TSI Trendline

(seven-speed DSG)

110TSI Comfortline

(seven-speed DSG)

110TSI Highline

(seven-speed DSG)

Golf (hatch) $28,169 $31,259 $33,588 $40,014
Golf wagon - $32,804 $35,133 $41,559

*NB: Prices correct as at 05/12/18 for driveaway pricing in 2000 postcode.

The Golf also comes in performance variants with a more powerful 2.0-litre engine, including the Golf R and GTI, which are not covered in this review.

Overview

Volkswagen's Golf is an iconic small car. With more than 30 million produced over the past four-and-a-bit decades, the Golf has long been at the pointy end of sales charts around the world.

The German manufacturer set the bar high with the seventh-generation Golf, so the model reviewed here (Golf 7.5) was always going to have big shoes to fill. Happily, the new Golf is a worthy successor to those that have come before.

VW has kept everything that was good about the previous Golf, including excellent build quality, dynamic on-road performance and a long list of standard inclusions, but also added a new infotainment system and improved safety gear. The end result is an impressive package that offers an enjoyable drive, plenty of premium features and good bang for your buck.

There are a few gripes, for example, a manual transmission is only available on the base-model hatch and there's a space-saver rather than a full-size spare, but all in all there's a whole lot to like about the Golf's mid-life upgrade.

But is it the best small car on the market? Let's take a closer look.

Engine and performance

The Golf comes with a 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine, paired with either a six-speed manual in Trendline trim or a seven-speed DSG (automatic) in Trendline, Comfortline and Highline variants.

If you're a diesel devotee, you'll need to consider other options; VW discontinued diesel-powered versions of the Golf in Australia in August 2018.

The petrol engine packs a 110kW punch and is a smooth and willing performer. It's lively enough to make the journey from 0 to 100km/h in a tick over 8 seconds, while its 5.4L/100km fuel economy figures (on the auto) are wonderfully frugal.

One common complaint is the lack of a manual transmission on all but the base model. The manual is a smooth and precise gearbox that's easy to use, so the fact that it's not available in top-spec models is disappointing.

Another bugbear for some reviewers was using the dual-clutch DSG transmission in stop-start traffic. Without the smooth off-the-line performance you get from a traditional auto or a CVT, lurching from one red light to the next can be a bit of a clunky ride. That said, it has been tweaked to offer more-refined low-speed performance than previous versions.

110TSI Trendline (six-speed manual) 110TSI Trendline, Comfortline and Highline (seven-speed DSG)
Engine 1.4-litre TSI BlueMotion Technology 1.4-litre TSI BlueMotion Technology
Type 4-cylinder inline turbocharged direct injection petrol 4-cylinder inline turbocharged direct injection petrol
Max power 110kW @ 5,000–6,000rpm 110kW @ 5,000–6,000rpm
Max torque 250Nm @ 1,500–3,500rpm 250Nm @ 1,500–3,500rpm
0–100km/h 8.2 seconds 8.2 seconds

(Wagon: 8.6 seconds)

Combined fuel consumption 5.7L/100km 5.4L/100km

(Wagon: 5.6L/100km)

Fuel tank capacity 50 litres 50 litres

Volkswagen Golf Review: Handling

In terms of ride quality, the Golf is seen as a class leader. If you're a keen driver, this may very well be the perfect small car for you.

Regardless of whether you choose the entry-level Golf or the Highline variant, you can expect a quiet, smooth and rewarding drive. Steering is responsive and precise, and the Golf feels well planted in all manner of driving conditions. A lot of this is down to the independent rear suspension and refined chassis, which offers a controlled ride and minimal body roll.

Out on the open road, the dual-clutch works its way through the gears smoothly and the turbocharged engine responds quickly whenever called upon. However, steering response in the base model falls a little short when compared to the sharper performance in more-expensive variants, with the Highline offering a taut and balanced drive.

110TSI Trendline Golf and Golf Wagon 110TSI Comfortline Golf and Golf Wagon 110TSI Highline Golf and Golf Wagon
Brake assist S S S
Child seat top tether anchorage points (3) S S S
ISOFIX child seat anchorage points, outer rear seats S S S
Keyless access, keyless entry and starting system - S S
Traction control S S S
Wheels Alloy wheels (Toronto) 16x6½" with 205/55 R16 tyres Alloy wheels (Dijon) 17x7" with 225/45 R17 tyres Alloy wheels (Karlskoga) 17x7" with 225/45 R17 tyres
Low tyre pressure indicator S S S
Air conditioning Manual Dual-zone automatic climate control Dual-zone automatic climate control
Adaptive cruise control P P S
Blind spot monitor P P S
Distance warning display P P S
Driver fatigue detection system S S S
Front Assist with City Emergency Brake S S S
Park Assist P P S
Rear-view camera S S S
Rain sensing wipers S S S
Composition Media audio system S - -
Discover Media audio and satellite navigation system - S S
App-Connect USB interface for Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink S S S
Sunroof - - S
Upholstery Cloth seats Comfort cloth seats Vienna leather-appointed seat upholstery
12V socket Centre console Centre console and luggage compartment Centre console and luggage compartment
Luggage area volume (litres) Rear seat upright: 380 (Wagon: 605)

Rear seat folded: 1,270

(Wagon: 1,620)

Rear seat upright: 380 (Wagon: 605)

Rear seat folded: 1,270

(Wagon: 1,620)

Rear seat upright: 380 (Wagon: 605)

Rear seat folded: 1,270

(Wagon: 1,620)

Interior and other features

Before hopping behind the wheel, we should point out that Golf 7.5 has undergone a few minor cosmetic changes. These include new headlights, LED tail lights and a redesigned bumper, but nothing overly shocking or surprising. That said, it's still quite easy on the eye and the wagon also offers a smooth and seamless design.

Inside, the design of the cabin is as classy and stylish as ever. There's a new 8-inch multimedia screen that's very practical and looks great, with support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard across all variants. Comfortline and Highline variants can also be tricked out with a huge 9.2-inch touchscreen with Gesture Control.

Aside from this, the layout is more or less unchanged, which is a good thing, and the attention to detail is obvious throughout. Golfs have become known for their premium fit and finish quality and the same can be said about this latest iteration. You'll notice a little more road noise creeping into the cabin of the wagon than the hatch, but nothing overly disconcerting.

While the Trendline model has to make do with manual air conditioning, Comfortline and Highline get dual-zone automatic climate control. A leather-wrapped steering wheel is standard across all variants, but you'll need to choose the Highline model if you want to upgrade from cloth to leather-appointed seats.

The driver's seat is comfortable and can be easily adjusted to find the perfect position. However, while the "sporty" seats in the Highline variant will suit performance drivers, they don't offer the sort of plush comfort you might want when out for a lazy Sunday cruise. You can look to the Comfortline model for better cushioning, while the seats in the Trendline will also do the job nicely.

Moving to the rear stalls, there's not quite as much space as you'd find in some competitors, but there's still sufficient room to keep most adults happy.

Storage space is also quite reasonable. The hatch offers 380 litres of cargo space with the 60/40 split folding rear seats in position and a sizable 1,270 litres once they're laid flat. The wagon is particularly impressive, with 605 litres of luggage space before you even think about folding the seats down.

There are plenty of useful storage spaces and solutions throughout the interior and it's clear that plenty of thought has gone into making the Golf as practical as possible. Unfortunately, that didn't extend to including a full-size spare, with a space-saver offered as standard.

Safety Features

The refined chassis and suspension package helps to eliminate most nasty handling surprises, but VW also offers a wide range of safety tech for extra peace of mind.

Features like a distance warning display, driver fatigue detection system and autonomous emergency braking are included across the range. Then there's the Driver Assistance Package, which comes standard in the Highline but is an extra-cost option in Trendline and Comfortline. It offers:

  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Blindspot monitor with rear traffic alert
  • Emergency Assist (not available on manual models)
  • Lane Assist with adaptive lane guidance (not available on manual models)
  • Lane Assist, lane departure warning system
  • Park Assist

Other standard safety kit includes anti-lock brakes, a rear-view camera, seven airbags, daytime running lights and stability control. The result of all this tech is a five-star ANCAP safety rating.

Volkswagen Golf Review: The Verdict

As its Finder Score of 82% shows, the Golf 7.5 was well received by all reviewers. With its smooth engine, refined handling and an interior that combines practicality and comfort, the Golf has plenty of admirers.

Because VW was using the widely acclaimed Golf 7 as a starting point, it didn't exactly need to make any drastic changes to an already impressive package. But by introducing a new infotainment system, upgraded safety features and some minor cosmetic enhancements, the German manufacturer has ensured that this much-loved model is once again one of the top picks in the highly competitive small-car segment.

Although it's priced a little higher than most of its other main rivals, the Golf's list of included kit (like alloy wheels, a leather steering wheel and impressive safety equipment) ensures that it represents good value for money. And while many would love to see the manual transmission offered across more variants, the base-model manual Golf is still worth a closer look alongside its higher-spec siblings.

If you're in the market for a new small car, test drive the Golf back-to-back with other leading contenders, like the Mazda3, Ford Focus, Toyota Corolla and Hyundai i30, before deciding which is the best small car for you.

Compare some options to finance a 2017 Volkswagen Golf

Updated June 17th, 2019
$
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5.64% (fixed)
5.99%
$2,000
1 to 7 years
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5.69% (fixed)
5.97%
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Offset your interest with a Car Budget Account.
Take advantage of a competitive rate, pre-approval and no early repayment fees when you finance a car under two years old.
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$5,000
3 to 5 years
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A competitive rate car loan suitable for a new cor used car.
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Get a competitive rate and apply for a larger loan up to $80,000 when you attach a new or used car as security to the loan.
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Competitive 6.89% p.a. rate available to all approved applicants. Loan amounts up to $60,000 available.
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Pictures: Volkswagen.com.au, Car Advice

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