Volkswagen Golf (2013 – 2020) Review

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Volkswagen Golf (2013 – 2020) At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
The Volkswagen Golf is the benchmark in the family hatchback class. Some rivals might be nicer to drive, cheaper, more practical or more exciting, but few, if any, match the Golf in terms of overall appeal.

+Plenty of second-hand choice, excellent cabin quality, efficient petrol and diesel engines.

-A tad dull, more expensive than mainstream rivals, too much choice?

Insurance Groups are between 10–27
On average it achieves 78% of the official MPG figure

Launched in 2013, the Volkswagen Golf remains the default choice for many family hatchback buyers. Even in its most basic form, the Golf feels more solid and special than mainstream rivals such as the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra. It ticks so many boxes: dependability, reliability, safety, desirability and efficiency. If it ends in ‘y’, the Golf delivers. Sure, the cabin is a little sombre and the Focus is nicer to drive, but there’s a Golf for everyone, from a frugal diesel to a ‘bahnstorming’ GTI or R model. The Golf might be the obvious choice, but millions of buyers can’t be wrong.

Looking for a Volkswagen Golf (2013 - 2020)?
Register your interest for later or request to be contacted by a dealer to talk through your options now.

The Volkswagen Golf has become the default choice. The safe bet. The ‘nobody got fired for buying IBM’ car.

Launched in 2013, and facelifted in 2017, the Mk7 Volkswagen Golf is one of the most popular Golfs ever. It helps that there’s a Golf for everybody, whether you’re after a frugal family car or an exhilarating hot hatchback. There’s even an estate model, if you fancy something with more space.

Finding a terrible Golf is like searching for a truffle in an overgrown woodland. Even a lowly S model feels a class above its mainstream rivals, while higher trim levels nudge the Golf into premium territory. The interior might be uninspiring, the styling rather predictable, and the driving experience nothing to write home about, but the Golf does nothing wrong. It’s the ultimate all-rounder.

The facelifted model, known as the Mk7.5, is the best version. Although the facelift was little more than a nip and tuck exercise, the new engines and upgraded infotainment system mean it’s the Golf to choose when buying used. We expect it to be very popular, especially if people don’t warm to the digital focus of the new Golf Mk8.

With the exception of the brilliant Golf GTI and Golf R, the driving experience could be described as dull. Everything appears to be configured to provide a safe, predictable and comfortable experience behind the wheel, because that’s what most people want. The R-Line version adds a touch of excitement, but it wouldn’t rank higher than ‘medium’ on the Peri-ometer.

One of the Golf’s biggest problems is the level of choice. It will take you a while to work out the different trim levels, and there’s a bewildering array of engines to choose from. SE, SE Nav or Match versions should be fine for most people, although R-Line adds some style and a slightly enhanced driving experience.

As for engines, all of them are superb. The small turbocharged petrols offer excellent economy and a surprising amount of poke, while the diesels are economical and punchy. We’d recommend the 1.0-litre TSI petrol if you intend to spend most of your time in the city, or the 1.6-litre TDI for longer trips.

It speaks volumes that, even today, as the Mk7 Golf makes way for a new model, the outgoing model is still the best car in its class. The Ford Focus is more fun, the Mazda 3 is more stylish, the Skoda Octavia is more practical and the Vauxhall Astra is cheaper, but none of these cars offer the all-round excellence of the Volkswagen Golf.

As Robin Thicke might say, you know you want it. So go ahead and buy a Volkswagen Golf. You won’t regret it.

Ask Honest John

Do I need to replace the water pump along with the timing belt?
"I have a 2016 Volkswagen Golf and have received differing advice about replacing the water pump with the timing belt. Some garages have said to me the water pump is not driven by the timing belt so it does not need to be replaced at the same time. Is this correct? I'd appreciate advice on this."
To get to the water pump, the mechanic may have to remove the timing belt first. If that is the case, replace the water pump at the same time as the mechanic will have access to it at the same time and it'll save long-term labour costs.
Answered by Dan Powell
Can I put all-weather tyres just on the back wheels?
"I need two new tyres for my 2014 Volkswagen Golf and am thinking of getting Michelin Cross Climate+. The existing tyres are Hankook Ventus Prime2 205/55/R16. Should I put the new tyres on the back or the front? I can't afford to buy a full set of tyres at the moment, unfortunately! Garages always seem to recommend putting the new ones on the back - but I'm not sure about fitting all-weather ones. Thanks for any advice."
I would strongly advise against mixing all-season tyres with your existing worn summer tyres. This will destabilise the car and make it very difficult to drive in low-grip conditions - because the front/rear of the vehicle will have significantly less grip. If you want all-season tyres then you must replace all four with Michelin Cross Climate+ tyres. Never mix and match.
Answered by Dan Powell
How is water getting into my car under the spare wheel?
"The back seat in my 2015 Volkswagen Golf is wet and there's water in the boot under the spare wheel. The first time I thought I must have left a window open, but now it's happened again. Puzzled as to where it's getting in. Is this a known problem?"
This is usually caused by a crack or hole in the rear light cluster. A faulty door seal will also cause water ingress. The best way to find the culprit is to dry the interior, shut the boot and then pour water over the car. When you open the boot again you should be able to see which route the water is taking to enter the interior.
Answered by Georgia Petrie
My daughter wants a diesel hatchback. Can you recommend a used model?
"My daughter's leased MINI is coming up for renewal but she's leaning towards buying a 2 or 3-year-old car, with a diesel Golf in mind. Diesel due to her business travel of between 15k-20k miles per year. She likes the higher-spec cars, manual gearbox, preferably a five-door as a bit more space is best suited and for her black labrador who goes in the boot. Which model would be best suited and which models should she avoid? What insurance rating would the said model(s) be? Would servicing be similar on all models? What similar other car/model may be a good match for the Golf as mentioned? Many thanks in advance."
Sounds like a sensible choice for that kind of mileage. The 2.0 TDI would be the best bet - very efficient yet punchy enough for motorway driving. The 1.6 TDI is pretty good, too, although isn't quite as powerful as the 2.0-litre. Servicing on a diesel Golf should be relatively affordable, no matter which model your daughter chooses. This should give you an idea of insurance groups: (It's worth getting some quotes, though, as insurance groups don't always mean a great deal). We'd also recommend a SEAT Leon (it's very similar to the Golf and shares engines) as well as the Peugeot 308 and Hyundai i30 (particularly the latest model, which went on sale in 2017).
Answered by Andrew Brady

What does a Volkswagen Golf (2013 – 2020) cost?

Buy new from £19,555 (list price from £23,355)