Volkswagen Golf Review 2024

Volkswagen Golf At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
The VW Golf is a classy and refined family hatchback. It's good to drive with a range of excellent engines. But it's less practical than its VW Group siblings, the infotainment isn't the best and the old Golf felt a tiny bit posher inside.

+Very comfortable and refined. Range of strong, quiet and efficient engines. Classy image.

-Infotainment is fiddly to use and often glitchy. Cabin quality isn't quite as good as the previous Golf. Its VW Group siblings are roomier in the back.

New prices start from £23,300
On average it achieves 0% of the official MPG figure

The Volkswagen Golf is still the consumate all-rounder. There is no weak link in the engine range, it rides and handles well and it should prove cheap to run. But it isn't as roomy inside as the SEAT Leon and Skoda Octavia it shares its platforms and engines with, while the infotainment is frustrating at times and there are some cheaper plastics than you might expect in a Golf.

The Golf is as important to Volkswagen as the vacuum cleaner is to Dyson. Yes, both companies have diversified into new products (with VW in particular betting the farm on its EV future), but they are still known and recognised globally for that particular product. 

It's an enduring success story spanning five decades and eight generations, but more than that the Golf is the only mainstream family hatchback that is considered classless. Whether you're a millionaire looking to blend into the background, a middle-income parent after a dependable family car, a new driver or a hot hatch enthusiast, chances are you've considered buying a Golf at some point in your life. What some see as 'dull' could actually be seen as subtlety and classiness. 

This new, eighth-generation VW Golf appears a little bit more showy than its predecessor - at least until it becomes part of the street furniture like older Golfs. The distinctive 'monobrow' front-end look can be shown off even more with a full-width LED light bar, while inside most of the traditional buttons are replaced by touch sensitive panels and a cool-looking touchscreen. 

Happily, elsewhere the Golf's tried and tested traits remain intact. It feels solid and built to last, its pretty roomy and practical, its comfortable and refined and yet good to drive, and it's well-equipped as standard even from base level.

There's also a range of engine options to suit pretty much every need, from the affordable 1.0-litre petrol that punches above its weight, to ultra-frugal diesels, to high-tech hybrids and fast and fun GTI models. The best all-rounder is the excellent 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine, which will meet most people's needs (although the 1.0-litre is a lot better than you might expect). 

Volkswagen asks for more money for the Golf than its platform-sharing sibling models, the SEAT Leon and Skoda Octavia. For that you don't just get a more upmarket image, you also get more kit as standard, such as digital instruments, wireless phone charging and ambient lighting, and a classier interior. Whether it's worth the extra is up to you, though, and (if we're being picky) some areas of the new Golf's cabin don't feel quite as premium as they did in the seventh-generation Golf. 

Another issue with the latest Golf is that its cheaper siblings are also longer, meaning more legroom in the back and (in the Skoda) bigger boot. It's not as if the Golf is cramped, but family buyers (or people with tall mates) may value that bit of extra space. And, like its siblings, there are some glaring issues with the infotainment that will take some getting used to. 

The VW Golf might not be the clear favourite in the family car class any more, with rivals that are better than ever. But it's still an excellent buy, provided you're aware of its foibles. 

Looking for a second opinion? Read heycar's Volkswagen Golf review

Ask Honest John

Why are there so many delays on new car orders?

"I ordered a new VW Golf PHEV in March 2022 with VW saying it would take 8 to 12 months. 16 months later we still have no build date for the car, do they want us to cancel the order because the cars have gone up in price so much? We've been given two build dates so far, 1st build date was December last year then the next build date was March 2023, now we have no build date. It's all a bit vague. "
Many manufacturers are experiencing severe delays due to component shortages, although your experience sounds particularly extreme. Ultimately it is your decision over whether to cancel your order or wait longer, but it would be worth looking at the terms of your current order to determine if there is a cost involved or if you will lose your deposit if you cancel. If the dealer is not communicating well it may be worth expressing that you are highly dissatisfied with the delay and you are looking to take your business elsewhere. You may also want to explore other avenues if you still want a Volkswagen Golf PHEV - you could look at other dealerships or online brokers to see if they have a vehicle in stock or have a shorter lead time.
Answered by David Ross

The battery in my key keeps draining, what could the problem be?

"My 3 year old 14,000 miles Volkswagen Golf (which I love) is eating through key batteries and the keys were replaced last June under warranty. It’s still happening and the batteries were replaced 3 weeks ago. I have booked the car in for next Monday for an investigation but I’d be very grateful if you have any ideas that I can take with me."
If the key is repeatedly draining its battery, it would suggest that there is a fault with the key so it is continually trying to send messages to the car when it should only do this when you press the button or start the vehicle. Hopefully the dealership will be able to find the problem, as the alternative is to replace the key, which can be expensive. However if the car is still under warranty then the dealership should fix this issue without cost to you, so we would suggest pressing them to ensure it is properly fixed.
Answered by David Ross

I'm looking to replace my Hyundai Ioniq with another PHEV, what should I choose?

"I currently have a Hyundai Ioniq PHEV that I plan to replace this August with a new PHEV. The Ioniq PHEV is no longer produced - what would you recommend about the same size?"
PHEVs have been a popular choice for customers looking to move into electrified vehicles, but manufacturers are moving towards full EVs which means the number of PHEVs available is diminishing. One option is the Volkswagen Golf e-Hybrid. It is a bit more expensive than your Ioniq, but this is partly offset by the better performance, driving experience and higher-quality cabin. Alternatively you could go for the MG HS, which is a little larger than your Ioniq but offers excellent value for money.
Answered by David Ross

Can you recommend a car for an older passenger with arthritis?

"My husband has arthritis and early Parkinsons, so we need to move from a low convertible to a sensible and safe car with comfort features. We need high adjustable seats, an automatic gearbox, petrol and or hybrid engine and good visibility. The car must be economical, low tax, with safety driving features, park assist, four-doors, five seats and ideally a hatchback. Can you recommend a car for us that meets our needs?"
Without knowing your budget we can't be more specific but we'd be checking out cars such as the Toyota Corolla (hybrid-only), Volkswagen Golf and Mazda CX-30. You might also want to check out some of the cars in our best hatchbacks list here: or for even better visibility and ease of getting in and out how about a mid-size SUV?
Answered by Lawrence Allan
More Questions

What does a Volkswagen Golf cost?