Volkswagen Golf Review 2022

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, brokers can source from £22,731
Insurance Groups are between 15–27

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

Are there still issues with Volkswagen 1.5 TSI engines?
"I am considering a new Volkswagen Golf 1.5 TSI. Can can you tell me if there are still issues with this engine. There were reports of the car "kangarooing" and a number of complaints, as I recall, but I was wondering if these issues had now been resolved."
Good news is that those issues with the 1.5 engine appear to have been resolved - we've not head any reports from owners of late and having driven several 1.5 TSI models ourselves, have not experienced any issues first hand either.
Answered by David Ross
Is my cruise control faulty?
"I have a Golf Mk8 Style 1.5 eTSI with DSG gearbox. If I set the cruise control to, say, 50mph, the car will keep to this speed until either the camera or GPS recognises, for example, a 60mph speed limit, when the car without any input from me increases speed to 60mph. I cannot believe that Volkswagen intends this to happen. I have informed the dealership and disappointingly they are not willing to investigate. Do you think there is a fault in the software? "
This is actually a feature of the adaptive cruise control known as 'Predictive' cruise control, which will also slow the car for reduced speed limits. It can be turned off by entering the 'Assists' menu section (one of the four shortcut keys below the centre air vents) and unselecting speed limit preview and road recognition in the adaptive cruise control sub-menu.
Answered by Lawrence Allan
First car in my sixties - what do you recommend?
"I have always had a company car and now at retirement I am faced with buying and insuring my first car. I am finding choice bewildering and insurance expensive. I live in London, park on the street and would prefer an automatic. I have loved my company Volkswagen Golfs but I'm concerned that one might be expensive to run and maintain. I love the solid feel of the Golf and road handling compared to, say, a Toyota Yaris which felt ‘tinny’ and insecure on a motorway test drive. What would you recommend on a budget of £10,000-15,000?"
We'd recommend a Volkswagen Polo. You should be able to find the latest model (launched in 2017) within budget with the DSG automatic gearbox. It'll feel just like a miniature Golf... although the latest Polo isn't actually that small. Alternatively, stick with what you know and look for a seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf. Buy one with the 1.4 TSI petrol engine and it should be a very dependable choice that won't cost a lot to run. As a slightly left-field alternative, consider a Mazda 3. It'll be well built, stylish and cheap to run.
Answered by Andrew Brady
Can you recommend any dual clutch small/medium crossovers?
"For the last 25 years I have always had torque converter automatics as well as driving the odd CVT and I am now looking to change my car again. I have been somewhat surprised that although there are still a few autos around such as those produced by the PSA Group and some of the premium brands, most manufacturers are now only using dual clutch transmissions or a few CVTs. I understand the economy and performance reasons for this but are there any dual clutch small/medium crossovers that are as smooth as a good torque converter or CVT, particularly when creeping in very slow traffic or shunting backwards and forwards to squeeze into a tight parking bay? "
The latest VW Group cars – so cars like the new Golf, Skoda Octavia and Audi A3 – have twin-clutch gearboxes that creep at slow speeds, so they're not as tricky to manoeuvre into parking spaces and the like as an old dual-clutch. They're not quite as smooth as, say, the ZF eight-speed gearbox you get in BMWs, but they're pretty close.
Answered by Russell Campbell
More Questions

What does a Volkswagen Golf cost?

Buy new from £22,731(list price from £25,340)