Review: Volkswagen Golf (2009 – 2013)

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Comfortable and quiet on the move, enjoyable to drive. Nicely trimmed with great attention to detail. 1.4 TSI sweeter to drive than a diesel.

7-speed dry clutch DSG problems. EA189 diesel emissions problems. Chain cam 1.4 TSI problems, especially Twincharger. EGR problems with 1.6 TDI.

Volkswagen Golf (2009 – 2013): At A Glance

It's not easy to improve something that's already near perfect, but Volkswagen appeared to have managed it with the Volkswagen Golf. It was more refined, more comfortable and felt even higher quality then the previous model. It appeared that the Volkswagen Golf set a new standard for hatchbacks.

It was not actually completely new, but a thoroughly revamped version of the 2004 Volkswagen Golf with small but key improvements all round. This is most telling on the move where the Golf VI is incredibly quiet and smooth, with the feel of a much larger car.

The quality and finish of the interior were impeccable too (velour lined golvebox, for example, so things don't rattle around in there) and there's a premium feel to the controls and switches. There was also new technology available on this Golf including a clever adaptive air suspension system (called ACC or Adaptive Chassis System) which can vary the handing and ride between sport or comfort modes.

The engine line-up was impressive and all the models offer good economy - both petrols and diesels. The 1.4 TSI 122 is a great choice with excellent torque and smoothness at low revs, but what really grabbed the headlines were the Bluemotion models. Thanks to continual improvements, the 1.6 TDI emits just 99g/km of CO2 and has claimed economy of 74.3mpg.

Unfortunately, these engines have proven unsuitable for repeated short runs from cold with many readers experiencing EGR and DPF problems. Great for long distances. But for short runs, far better a 1.4 TSI or 1.2 TSI.


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What does a Volkswagen Golf (2009 – 2013) cost?

List Price from £23,900
Buy new from £20,095
Contract hire from £169.20 per month

Volkswagen Golf (2009 – 2013): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4199–4213 mm
Width 1779–1786 mm
Height 1461–1480 mm
Wheelbase 2575–2578 mm

Full specifications

Though apparently cheaper to build than the Mk V, it feels even better. The facia gives a higher impression of quality than any other mass-market hatchback. Open the glovebox and you find it's velour lined instead of the usual plastic bin. And if the designers are considerate enough to have thought of a small reminder flasher in the door mirror you wonder how else they're looking after you.

You'll find all mod cons in the central console, by which I mean an aux socket, USB socket and connectors to most modern phones and iPods, so they didn't skimp there. The rear passengers benefit from their own heater/aircon outlets at the back of the console and their own door speakers.

Child seats that fit a Volkswagen Golf (2009 – 2013)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Volkswagen Golf (2009 – 2013) like to drive?

Unlike Honda, VW didn't revert to a cheap twisty beam back axle. The new Golf has a sort of multi-link arrangement to rival that of the Focus and Mazda 3.

The 1.4 chain-cam engine has a turbo to help it deliver 122PS and a useful 200Nm torque from 1,500rpm. And no worries about the turbo overheating because it's water-cooled.

You get a 6-speed box as standard, with 6th geared to 30mph per 1,000rpm, which is long for any petrol car, never mind a 1.4. And it never seems to slip into a bottomless pit of turbo lag. Just pulls strongly, pleasantly and well. Like a FIAT Bravo 1.4TJET.

There's ample room in the back, with more headroom than most, and the SE has a useful armrest-cum-ski-flap to poke long things through. They've hollowed out just enough space behind the rear arches to lay a golf bag across your Golf. And under the boot floor, joy of joys, not a full-sized spare wheel, but at least you get a space-saver.

Out on the road, it's pleasant and quiet to drive. But the steering is far from the revelation I'd been led to believe. There's no real ‘feel' and it isn't linear, like the Focus and Megane so there's a change in the level of effort as you turn the wheel. It's not horrible, but it's just not as good as the Focus or Megane. With snow and ice covering the roads during he week of my test, I didn't get the chance to push the car safely and check out its ultimate grip, so handling impressions will have to wait.

It didn't pass the looks test. The female eyes I used in judgement found it wholly unremarkable. Park it next to a Mk V Golf and you can spot the differences. But, as with MINI Mk IIs, when you see one in isolation you're hard pressed to work out if it's the new car or the old one.

However, it does do the job a Golf is supposed to and that is to convey the impression that it's a cut above other mid size hatchbacks and so are you over their owners. The fit and finish and general ambience inside enhance the feeling you have afforded a higher quality car than a Ford. And the 1.4 TSI engine is a really pleasant thing to have under the bonnet, far nicer than the average 1.6 and better than Ford's 1.8.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.2 TSI 50 mpg 10.6 s 134 g/km
1.2 TSI 85 51 mpg 12.3 s 129 g/km
1.2 TSI DSG 49 mpg 10.6 s 134 g/km
1.4 44 mpg 13.9 s 149 g/km
1.4 GT TSI 45 mpg 8.0 s 145 g/km
1.4 GT TSI DSG 47 mpg 8.0 s 139 g/km
1.4 TSI 46–47 mpg 9.5 s 138–144 g/km
1.4 TSI DSG 47 mpg 9.5 s 138 g/km
1.6 40 mpg 11.3 s 166 g/km
1.6 TDI 60–63 mpg 11.2–12.9 s 118–123 g/km
1.6 TDI 105 63 mpg 11.3 s 119 g/km
1.6 TDI BlueMotion 69–74 mpg 11.3 s 99–107 g/km
1.6 TDI BlueMotion Technology 67–69 mpg 11.2–11.3 s 107–109 g/km
1.6 TDI DSG 60 mpg 11.2 s 123 g/km
1.6 TDI DSG BlueMotion Technology 67 mpg 11.2 s 109 g/km
2.0 GT TDI 59 mpg 9.3 s 126 g/km
2.0 GT TDI BlueMotion Technology 66 mpg 9.3 s 114 g/km
2.0 GT TDI DSG 53 mpg 9.3 s 138 g/km
2.0 TDI 58 mpg 10.7 s 128 g/km
2.0 TDI 140 53–59 mpg 9.3 s 126–138 g/km
2.0 TDI 140 DSG 53 mpg 9.3 s 138 g/km
2.0 TDI BlueMotion Technology 66 mpg 9.3 s 114 g/km
GTD 55 mpg 8.1 s 134 g/km
GTD DSG 52 mpg 8.1 s 142 g/km
GTI 39 mpg 6.9 s 170 g/km
GTI DSG 38 mpg 6.9 s 173 g/km
GTI Edition 35 35 mpg 6.6 s 189 g/km
GTI Edition 35 DSG 35 mpg 6.6 s 185 g/km
R 33 mpg 5.7 s 199 g/km
R DSG 34 mpg 5.5 s 195 g/km

Real MPG average for a Volkswagen Golf (2009 – 2013)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

22–72 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Volkswagen Golf (2009 – 2013)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

What is the AGM setting on my battery charger?

My 2011 Volkswagen Golf has been garaged since the middle of March. I bought a CTEK battery charger and connected it. There is a setting called AGM. What is that, please? Also, do you recommend running the engine periodically or waiting until lockdown is over to give the car a good run?
If your car has a stop-start feature (i.e. the engine stops automatically when you come to a halt), it'll probably have an AGM battery and you'll have to use the AGM setting. This shouldn't be necessary on a 2011 Volkswagen Golf. If you can, running the engine for 20 minutes to half an hour every week or so would be better than leaving it for a long period.
Answered by Andrew Brady
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What do owners think?

Our view gives your our opinion, based on driving hundreds of cars every year, but you can't beat the views of someone who lives with a car day-in, day out.

  • 5 star 67%
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  • 2 star 17%
  • 1 star 17%

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