Review: Volkswagen Golf (2013)


Seventh generation Golf sets perceived quality benchmark for class. More spacious than before. Better to drive. Refined and comfortable. Multiple award winner.

Issues with 1.5 TSI Evo engine (resolved Sept 2019). Still suffering problems with 7-speed dry clutch DSG.

Volkswagen Golf (2013): At A Glance

Over the years the Volkswagen Golf has become the small hatchback to beat. What started out as a humble replacement for the Beetle is now seen as the benchmark that all other hatchbacks are judged by - and that's still the case. The Golf is quiet, comfortable, practial and feels like a high quality car.

Improved from 2017, updated models don't look radically different, but have redesigned head and tail lights and a few other little tweaks, including repositioned sensors for the auto emergency brake system. There are also improvements inside including a better infotainment system and new engines, including a very impressive 1.5-litre petrol. 

On the road the Golf is a very well-balanced car, blending ride comfort, secure handling and impressive refinement. It's at home more or less anywhere, whether covering mile after mile on the motorway, nipping across town for shopping or commuting on a twisting B-road. 

Practicality is good too. There are three-door, five-door and estate body styles, so there's something to suit most types of buyer. But whatever model you go for you'll get a sensibly designed cabin with a good driving position and a sizeable, well-shaped boot.

There's plenty of useful technology on offer too including touchscreen with Bluetooth as standard. Most models come with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity too, enabling users to mirror the apps from their smartphone in the car, including Spotify or Google Maps. 

The Golf is a hugely capable and high quality car that goes about it's business in a fuss-free fashion. It may not break any boundaries but it does everything you want it to and it does it very well. As an all-rounder it can't be bettered. In fact it's pretty much perfect.

What does a Volkswagen Golf (2013) cost?

List Price from £22,325
Buy new from £20,071
Contract hire from £169.20 per month

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

Length 4255–5258 mm
Width 1799–2027 mm
Height 1442–1492 mm
Wheelbase 2620–2637 mm

Full specifications

The Golf doesn't have the most exciting dashboard layout, but it is extremely neat and easy to read. Everything is placed where you'd expect it to be, so while it won't deliver any surprises, it will feel like home straight away.

Quality is excellent too. The fit and finish is top notch and the choice of materials feels upmarket The plastics are plush and little touches, like carpet in the door bins, make the Golf feel like a step above a lot of rivals like the Vauxhall Astra and Ford Fiesta. 

A big highlight is the excellent seats. They strike the ideal balance between comfort and support so even after long hours behind the wheel you don't feel any aches or twinges. There's also plenty of space inside, with room for adults in the back row and a sizeable, flat boot with enough space for usual family gear like push chairs and flat pack furniture. You can get an estate model too, if you need more room.

From 2017 all models come with an 8-inch touchscreen system, while earlier cars had a smaller system. Bluetooth connectivity is standard, so streaming music or receiving calls in car is easy enough, plus SE models from 2017 onwards get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, for mirroring smartphone apps in car.

Standard equipment (from 2017):

S is the basic trim. It comes with 15-inch alloy wheels, a cooled glovebox, cloth upholstery, variable boot floor, 8-inch colour touchscreen with DAB, Bluetooth connectivity, XDS front differential, electric parking brake, predictive pedestrian protection, start/stop, manual air conditioning, electric windows.

SE adds 16-inch alloy wheels, chrome interior details, adaptive cruise control, auto emergency brakes, drive mode selection, auto lights, front and rear parking sensors, Car-Net with Android Auto, MirrorLink and Apple CarPlay. SE Navigation adds navigation. 

GT adds 17-inch alloy wheels, ambient lighting, navigation, upgraded Car-Net system.

R-Line adds R-line interior and exterior styling details. 

Child seats that fit a Volkswagen Golf (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 (2013) like to drive?

Since it was introduced in 2013 the Golf has been sold with a wide variety of different engines, ranging in capacity from a little but capable 1.0-litre petrol to the 2.0-litre 310PS engine in the range-topping, high performance Golf R. The good news is there isn't a bad engine among them - they're all capable and refined. 

If you go for an used Golf from before 2017, our pick of the engine range is the 1.4-litre TSI. This provides a well-judged blend of sprightly performance, refinement and running costs. Improved for 2017, the same engine has an increased capacity of 1.5-litres and slightly more power, but the same running costs. 

Even the little 1.0-litre petrol works well in the Golf, with surprising acceleration. It's economy grabs the headlines, of course - but don't expect to achieve those numbers in real world driving. Still - according to our Real MPG numbers, owners manage more than 50mpg on average.

The diesel engines have power outputs from 115PS to 184PS. We think the 2.0-litre TDI with 150PS is the best diesel option, since it has strong performance, low emissions and good fuel economy. But even if you go for the sporty GTD with 184PS, fuel bills won't be all that pricey. 

Obviously there is a GTI model too, as well as a high performance R variant. There is also a pure electric E-Golf and a plug-in hybrid Golf GTE - but they have their own review pages which you can find by clicking here.

The Volkswagen Golf excels as an all-rounder. It's so capable in so many situations it feels like a car that should suit everyone, from new drivers and commuters to enthusiasts. It's as at home on a long motorway drive as it is picking up a flat pack from a furniture shop, or queueing at a set of traffic lights in a busy urban street. 

Refinement is great, meaning there is little noise when cruising long distance or when in the hustle and bustle of town, plus the controls are almost perfectly weighted, making them easy to operate while retaining a sturdiness that makes the Golf feel solid and substantial.

On a country road the Golf takes everything in its stride. Through corners the steering is accurate, plus there is a reassuring amount of grip. The suspension is excellent too, blending comfortable ride quality with good body control through twists and turns, all of which makes the car quite enjoyable to drive when the mood takes you, but relaxing when you just want to get from A to B. 

If you go for an SE model or higher then the level of safety and convenience tech is good, with adpative cruise control and auto emergency brakes as standard. You also get auto wipers, auto lights and a speed limiter. 

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.0 TSI 110 59 mpg 9.9 s 109 g/km
1.0 TSI 110 DSG 60 mpg 9.9 s 107 g/km
1.0 TSI 115 60–67 mpg 9.9–10.4 s 99–111 g/km
1.0 TSI 115 DSG 59–66 mpg 9.9 s 99–109 g/km
1.0 TSI 85 59 mpg 11.9 s 108 g/km
1.2 TSI 105 58 mpg 10.2 s 114 g/km
1.2 TSI 105 DSG 57 mpg 10.2 s 115 g/km
1.2 TSI 85 58 mpg 11.9 s 113 g/km
1.4 TSI 122 53–54 mpg 9.3 s 120–123 g/km
1.4 TSI 122 DSG 57 mpg 9.3 s 116 g/km
1.4 TSI 125 54 mpg 9.1 s 120 g/km
1.4 TSI 125 DSG 55–57 mpg 9.1 s 116–119 g/km
1.4 TSI 150 58–60 mpg 8.2–8.4 s 109–115 g/km
1.4 TSI 150 DSG 59–60 mpg 8.2–8.4 s 110–113 g/km
1.5 TSI 130 55–59 mpg 8.4–9.2 s 110–119 g/km
1.5 TSI 130 DSG 57–59 mpg 9.1 s 110 g/km
1.5 TSI 150 52–55 mpg 8.3–8.4 s 116–119 g/km
1.5 TSI 150 DSG 54–55 mpg 8.3–8.4 s 114–116 g/km
1.6 TDI 105 74 mpg 10.7 s 99 g/km
1.6 TDI 105 DSG 72 mpg 10.7 s 102 g/km
1.6 TDI 110 72–83 mpg 10.5–10.7 s 85–101 g/km
1.6 TDI 110 DSG 71–72 mpg 10.5–10.7 s 102–104 g/km
1.6 TDI 115 67–69 mpg 10.2–10.4 s 106–109 g/km
1.6 TDI 115 DSG 69–72 mpg 10.5 s 102–105 g/km
1.6 TDI 90 74 mpg 11.9 s 98 g/km
2.0 TDI 150 64–69 mpg 8.6–8.8 s 106–111 g/km
2.0 TDI 150 DSG 61–64 mpg 8.6–8.8 s 116–120 g/km
2.0 TDI 184 60–67 mpg 7.4–7.5 s 109–129 g/km
2.0 TDI 184 DSG 58–63 mpg 7.4–7.5 s 119–129 g/km

Real MPG average for a Volkswagen Golf (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

30–72 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 (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

My oil warning light came on after 5000 miles - should I be concerned?

I bought a new Golf at the end of 2018 which I intend to keep long term. It drives very nicely but after 5000 miles the oil warning light came on, I topped up with synthetic 0/20 grade oil, about 500 ml and the light has gone off and all it's driving fine. Should I be concerned about some oil use during the first few thousand miles and should I consider a full oil change, especially in view of my intended long term ownership? If so Castrol is noted on the filler cap, so should I go for Shell Helix Ultra?
Do not mix oils. Only use the correct oil in the correct grade for the car. Volkswagen recommends Castrol EDGE Professional Longlife III 5W-30 and Longlife IV FE 0W-20. Yes, sometimes a new engine can use a bit of oil bedding in its piston rings. But keep an eye on it. Check the level every week. Change the oil and filter at least every year or every 10,000 miles whichever comes first.
Answered by Honest John
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What do owners think?

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