Background

The Volkswagen Golf is a small sized family car, which is now in its seventh generation, since its conception in 1974.
 

Volkswagen Golf — Pros

Volkswagen invested heavily in technology and the Golf benefited from this through the inclusion of cutting edge engineering advancements.

Even without the optional electrically adjustable suspension, the Golf is a superior ride and drive experience. It is surprisingly agile and hugs the road whilst the cabin is quiet and refined. This is due to VW spending considerable efforts in ‘noise deafening’ technology and ‘wind whistle’ reduction.
 

Volkswagen Golf — Cons

Complaints surrounding the VW Golf are generally centred on the DSG gearbox. Ironically, when there are no issues, the gearbox is one of the highlights of the Golf’s driving experience. The issues revolve around rough shifting and ‘false neutral’. Dealers were advised that the problem may have stemmed from oil infiltrating the wiring which controlled the gearbox.

Window regulators have also been singled out as an issue. For those buying second hand or at auction, a simple open and closing of each door should suffice to check the window adjustment mechanism is functioning correctly.
 

Background

The Volkswagen Golf is a small sized family car manufactured in Germany since 1974. Over the years it has undergone multiple changes to both nameplates and body styling. It is now in its seventh generation spanning from 2012 to the present.

Only one of three cars to have been voted European Car of the Year twice, in 1992 and 2013, the Golf also won World Car of the Year in 2009 and 2013. Since its inception the Golf has won a slew of awards and accolades for its class.

The car got the holy tick of approval when, in 1999, Pope Benedict XVI purchased a fourth generation Golf to drive around whilst in Rome.
 

Range

The Volkswagen Golf has passed through seven generations denoted as Mk Models. The Mk4 to Mk7 models span the year 1997 – present and are the most common found in the second hand and car auction markets.
The variants featured names such as Trendline (low end), Comfortline (mid-range) and Highline (high end).
Offerings commonly come in both Diesel and PULP (Premium Unleaded Petrol) options.

The hatchback has been a mainstay of the range, with other body styles entering the range or being discontinued for sale in Australia.
Hatchback:   1.6, 1.6 S, 1.6 SE, 2.0, 2.0 S, 2.0 SE, 2.0 Sport, GTi, CL, GL, GLE, VR6
1.9 TDI, 2.0 FSI, 2.0 TDI, GT Sport TDI, GTI Pirelli, R32
103 TDI, 103 TSI, 110 TDI, 110 TSI, 118 TSI, 77TDI, 77 TSI, 90 TSI
92 TSI, GTI 40 Years, R, R Wolfsburg Edition
SUV:                  Alltrack, 132 TSI
Wagon:            110 TDI, 110 TSI, 92 TSI, R Wolfsburg Edition
Convertible:    GL, 118 TSI, SE, CL
 

Volkswagen Golf — Hatch, Wagon, SUV, Convertible

Years of manufacture: 1997 – 2017
The reputation of the Volkswagen Beetle as an economical and reliable workhorse, has rolled over to the Volkswagen Golf. Each incarnation of Golf brought superior safety features and design modifications.
 
Fourth Generation (1997 – 2003)
By the late 1990’s the fourth generation Golf acquired a rounder shape and softer curves, in its body design. With a 12 year anti-corrosion warranty and quality build, it understandably cost a little more than the competition at the entry-level GL model. At the other end of the price spectrum was the Golf’s turbocharged GTE.
When purchasing a 2002 model, check the build date as some models which were manufactured in 2001 bear 2002 compliance plates which may affect the value of the car.
BODY TYPES: 3 and 5 door hatchback and 5 door station wagon.
 
Fifth Generation
The basic offering in the 2003 – 2009 range has a body styling which represents the typical Golf design. The interior of the standard model is quite basic. Cars optioned with leather seats made a dramatic difference to the cabin look and feel.

The five door Golf hatch is renowned for its ride and drive quality. With responsive steering and handling and passenger comfort, it is a good choice for city driving.
BODY TYPES: 3 door and 5 door hatchback, 5 door MPV (Golf Plus) and 5 door estate/wagon.
 
Sixth Generation (2007 – 2012)
By the sixth generation the price of the VW Golf had dropped to compete with similar offerings on the market. The quality remained however, with the Mk6 being little changed from the Mk5 but improvements were made to the dash to make the car somewhat more aesthetically appealing and functional internally.
The inclusion of noise deadening technology which also reduced wind whistle, equates to a super quiet and thus more comfortable ride.

BODY TYPES: 3 door and 5 door hatchback, 5 door estate/wagon and 2 door cabriolet.
 
Seventh Generation (2013 – present)
Whilst the Mk7 Golf doesn’t differ greatly aesthetically from its predecessors, it has an impressive range of state-of-the-art features which belie its traditional Golf exterior. To begin with the mid-range offering boasts:
  • Reactive touch screen
  • Bluetooth and iPod connectivity
  • Auto headlamps
  • Rain sensitive wipers
  • Award winning seat comfort
  • Cruise control
  • Green tinted heat insulating electric windows
  • Reversing cameras
BODY TYPES: 3 door and 5 door hatch or 5 door Alltrack SUV which features 4Motion all-wheel drive.
 
Sports models – GTI
The GTI ‘hot hatch’ developed over the years from rather a tame offering to really hit its stride by 2003.
The fourth generation vehicle had 178 hp with a 0 to 60 time of just under 8 seconds but the body styling was similar to the standard Golf.

The fifth generation saw a substantial overhaul to both the power and design which lifted the car’s output considerably. Well priced and with good fuel economy, they stand up well.

The sixth generation turbocharged Golf GTi lifted the bar yet again with air bags and satellite navigation. It could confidently claim to be the best all round hot hatch on the market.

Reaching over 60 mph in as little as 6.4 seconds, the seventh generation offering has the numbers to back up its reputation and can reach speeds of up to 155 mph. It is a market leader in the small sport hatch market.

R / R32
The Golf R32 was the top of the range model which appeared on the market around 2003. Featuring dual clutch gearbox (DSG), six speed manual transmission, Climatronic automatic climate control, sport seats and independent rear suspension.

For the Australian market two hundred special ‘Edition 200’ cars were produced and prices on many have increased due to the limited production. Each car was uniquely badged and available in three colour options:
  • Black Magic Pearl
  • Deep Blue Pearl
  • Reflex Silver
 

Features, Options and Upgrades

Base models — GE, CL
Due to the size and variations of the range, it is difficult to outline every option and upgrade. Suffice to say, earlier base models were lacking comfort features considered standard now, such as air conditioning and electric windows.

In the sixth generation vehicle, the optional inclusion of a rear reversing camera, which magically appears from beneath the VW badge, is a winner.

Later models also come equipped with a device in the tank to prevent filling up with the wrong type fuel.
While the base models, even up to the sixth generation, could be quite Spartan, there were a number of optional extras which you may be lucky enough to find in second-hand vehicles including:
  • Adaptive headlights
  • Satellite navigation
  • Electrically adjustable seats
  • Heated seats
  • DCC adaptive suspension
  • Leather interior
  • Bluetooth hands-free system
 

Colour Options

The standard colour options available on Mk7 range are as follows:
2016 Volkswagen Golf colour options
  • Night Blue Metallic
  • Tungsten Silver Metallic
  • Black
  • Pure White
  • Tornado Red
  • Platinum Gray Metallic
  • Silk Blue Metallic
Metallic paint could cost up to $500 extra and a wide range of other colours were available on special order.
 

Transmission

The Golf DSG 7-speed gearbox has experienced some issues with what has been called a ‘false-neutral’ problem. VW recalled cars with this gearbox to rectify the issue.
 
1997 – 2003
4-speed automatic
5-speed tiptronic 01M automatic
5-speed manual
6-speed manual
6-speed DSG
 
2003 – 2009
6-speed auto
6-speed DSG
5-speed manual
6-speed manual
7-speed DSG
 
2008 – 2013
5-speed manual
6-speed manual
6-speed automatic
6-speed DSG
7-speed DSG
 
2012 – Present
5-speed manual
6-speed manual
6-speed automatic
7-speed automatic
 

Engine Size

2003 – 2009
1.4-litre 4 cylinder 80 hp
1.6-litre 4-cylinder, 75 kW/148 Nm; 102hp
2.0-litre 4-cylinder, 110 kW/200 Nm;
1.9-litre 4-cylinder turbo-diesel, 77 kW/250 Nm;
2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo-diesel, 103 kW/320 Nm
 
2008 – 2013
1.2 L I4 TSI
1.4 L I4
1.4 L I4 TSI (t/c and s/c)
1.6 L I4
1.6 L I4 TDI
2.0 L I4 TDI
2.0 L I4 TSI
2.5 L I5
 
2012 – Current
When launched, engine options included 1.2 and 1.4 litre turbocharged. The Golf TSI offered a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder that makes 170 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque.
 
1.0 L I3 t/c petrol
1.2 L I4 t/c petrol
1.4 L I4 t/c petrol
1.6 L I4 petrol
1.8 L I4 t/c petrol
2.0 L I4 t/c petrol
1.6 L I4 t/c diesel
2.0 L I4 t/c diesel
 

Fuel Type

Premium Unleaded Petrol
Diesel
 

Running Cost and Economy

The economy of each individual car is affected by many factors including body size, city or rural driving and driver handling. The following figures are a range which has been experienced through different testing bodies and should be used as a guide only.
2004 – 2009
8.2 L/100 km (1.6), 8.5 L/100 km (2.0), 5.8 L/100 km (1.9 TD), 5.7 L/100 km (2.0 TD)
2008 – 2013
5.7 to 7.6L/100km: (manual) 6.1(DSG), 6.2L/100km (combined)
2012 – Current
5.4L/100km (1.4), 6.8L/100km (1.8), Diesel 5L/100km (2.0)
 
The light weight of the newer Golf models has lowered consumption figures. In fact the latest generation of Golfs are around 100 kg lighter than previous models, which has made a substantial impact on fuel economy.
 

Handling

Due to its superior design the Golf handles the road to perfection. The controls are light and versatile making it an ideal city car. Regular design and technical upgrades mean that it handles better than many luxury cars due to superior performance suspension.

The GTi features rack and pinion steering with electric power assistance making it feel much more responsive.
The Mk7’s substantially lighter weight translates to far better handling on the road. Speed sensitive power steering means that the car adapts to improve handling even at higher speeds.
 

Storage Capacity

The earlier model Golf Hatch may be marketed as a five seater but comfort dictates that, at least for long rides, four adults fit comfortably. They sport large glove compartments and from 2007, many were cooled by the air conditioner allowing drinks to be kept cold.
The extra large door bin enables even 2 litre bottles to be stored. The later models include a number of smaller compartments throughout the cabin and even a drawer under the seat in some models.
For a car marketed as ‘small’ the Mk5 boot capacity is impressive, especially when the back seats are flattened. In some models removable seat pads in the rear mean that, unlike many vehicles, the boot lies flat enabling extra storage room. This feature was lost on later models. The back has a rear privacy panel to hide valuables.
 

Safety Features

According to the How Safe is your Car website, between the years 2009 and 2017 the VW Golf scores an average safety rating of 5 out of 5 stars in the ANCAP rating. Cars prior to this still rate above average in the safety stakes, with averages around 3 to 4 stars depending on the model and year of manufacture.
The comprehensive range of safety equipment in the Golf, can have a positive impact on the cost of vehicle insurance.

Airbags
Late model Golfs are equipped with front, side, curtain and head airbags.
 
Seatbelt Alert
If the seatbelt is not fastened when the key is inserted into the ignition an alarm will sound. This feature appeared in the fifth generation vehicles.
 
Anti-Skid Control
Detects slip and automatically applies brakes to adjust wheels which are not going in the right direction.
 
Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS)
In the event of an emergency situation, ABS modulates the brakes to help the driver maintain stability and steering control as well as preventing the brakes from locking.
 
Emergency Multi-Collision Braking System
The Mk7 was the first with the capacity to brake after an accident to avoid a second collision.
 
Concealed Rear Reversing Cameras
Available as an option on some models.
Other safety options available to the Mk7 were:
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Lane keeping assistant
  • Driver fatigue detection
  • Traffic signal recognition
  • Automatic parking system
 

Used Price Range

The used car value for each Golf model is affected by wide variables including, body type, mileage, fuel type, condition and upgrades. In most instances, diesel models have held their value better due to greater fuel economy.
 
Mk4 HATCH CAB/CONV. WAGON/SUV GTI/R/R32
Manual $1,760 – 3,400 $1,900 – 3,400 NA NA
Auto $2,200 – 4,600 $3,300 – 6,990 NA NA
Mk5        
Manual $2,200 – 4,000 NA NA $11,600 – 14,200
Auto $2,600 – 12,950 NA NA $11,500 – 21,940
Mk6        
Manual $6,800 – 21,990 $15,989 – 24,880 $7,999 – 14,990 $15,990 – 22,999
Auto $7,900 – 18,500 $16,000 – 24,880 $7,990 – 21,990 $14,990 – 33,990
Mk7        
Manual $13,900 – 24,340 NA NA $23,500 – 52,990
Auto $12, 888 – 35,840 $21,888 – 33,999 $12,990 – 59,990 $25,100 – 55,490
*The above figures have been extracted from multiple sources including previous sales data and Redbook. They should be used as a guide only. Estimates are based on average km’s of 225,000 - 375,000
 

Standard Features— Quick Guide

Below is an outline of the features offered for Volkswagen Golf standard models.
This table is to be used as a guide only — upgrades, options and multiple model variations should be considered when assessing specific features.
Features Mk4 Mk5 Mk6 Mk7
Satellite Navigation     4 4
Voice control for Navigation and Audio      
16 inch Alloy Wheels   ✓* ✓* ✓*
17 inch Alloy Wheels   ✓* ✓* ✓*
Air Conditioning    
Antilock Braking
Electronic brake force distribution  
Brake Assist  
Front seatbelt pretensioners  
Power Windows    
Keyless entry  
Remote Central Locking
Alarm
Heated Mirrors      
USB/iPod Connectivity     3
Cruise Control     3
Airbags - Dual      
Airbags - Comprehensive  
5.8 inch Integrated Colour Display      
8 Speaker Audio
Steering Wheel Audio Controls      
CD player and MP3 - compatibility    
Bluetooth Audio Streaming     3
Steering Wheel Audio Control      
Tilt Adjustable Steering Column
Front Fog Lights   2 2 2
Contoured Sports Seats   2 2 2
Park Assist 2      
 
1 Convertible discontinued May 2016
2Sports models
3 From 2011
4 Optional

08 Feb