Decent handling and comfortable on the move, impressive TSI engines, massive improvement over the previous Golf, high-economy Bluemotion models, high quality feel of interior, five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.
Generally harder ride than a Focus. 1.9 TDI diesels are noisy but far more reliable than 2.0 TDIs. Too many expensive problems including ridiculous pressure sensor failure in ABS/ESP module for which some owners were charged £1,700+.
Latest Update VW Golf V: Backroom reliability story from BillBwithley of wet clutch 6 speed DSG: "I have 05 Golf V with wet 6 speed DSG; 138,000 miles so far without problem. Gear box oil and filter changed every 40,000 miles (about £180 at main dealer)."
11-6-2013: Problem with 54k mile 2007/57 1.4 TSI Twincharger 140 reported. Owner stalled the car making an emergency stop, leading to overfuelling indicated by lamda probe exhaust warning light. Turbo recirculation valve replaced to no effect. Coil packs replaced to no effect. Dealer did not know how to fix it.
31-5-2013: Another report of a failed 7-speed DSG on a 32k mile 2008/58 Golf 1.4TSI. Both clutches were failing and the differential bearing had failed. Replacement quoted at £4,500, but goodwill contribution of £1,000 expected from VW. Hopefully more.
My original VW Golf Mk V 2004 Road Test began: "No car is as important to any car maker as the new Golf is to Volkswagen. That famous David Bailey, Paula Hamilton commercial, “Few things in life are as reliable as a Volkswagen” was for a Mk II Golf. But the Mk III was a step back. And though the Mk IV was an improvement, it has hardly been the last word in reliability. VW had pushed living on past reputation as far as it could. The cars still carry status a Focus owner can only dream of, yet the public probably wouldn’t have forgiven another Golf that didn’t really live up to it. "
If you've never ever driven a Volkswagen Golf before and your perception is of a rock-solid piece of superb German engineering, then this Volkswagen Golf will live up to that perfectly. It looks good. It feels good. And it drives very well indeed.
From the first point of contact with the Volkswagen Golf it's hard not to be impressed by the German cars excellent build quality. The weighty doors close with a satisfying thud and all the controls work with real precision. The Golf's sophisticated image still sets the benchmark for desirability among hatchbacks and it's easy to see why it remains so popular.
True, the safe looks won't break any boundaries but the simple lines and detailing appeal directly to Volkswagen's core buyers. There's not much that catches the eye, aside from the circular design of the rear light clusters, but the unfussy approach is neat. Fortunately what the Golf lacks in visual impact it more than makes up for in quality.
The cabin, although quite sombre, uses top quality materials with a layout that is easy to get on with and a high-class construction. There's good storage too although standard equipment isn't as generous as many other hatches of this type. But there are some great engines available from economical (if somewhat noisy) TDI diesels to advanced turbocharged TSI petrols.
Sadly, the Mk V Golf has not always been the paragon of reliability that buyers perception expected it to be.