Seven-seat version of Fiat 500L revealed with new ‘Multi Purpose Wagon’
Expert guide to buying a Volkswagen Golf
The Golf in a nutshell
The Golf is not the bargain buy, but the prestige one. Practical, flexible and certainly not flash, but with its excellent diesels, it is wonderfully economical. The Golf is a faithful automotive friend.
What are the Golf stats?
Fastest - top Speed 141mph/0-60mph 7.6 seconds (2.8 VR6)
Slowest - top speed 97mph/0-60mph 17.6 (1.9 Diesel)
Fastest - top speed 153mph/0-60mph 6.4 seconds (3.2V6 R32)
Slowest - top speed 99mph/0-60mph 17.2 seconds (1.9E SDi)
Fastest - top speed 155mph/0-60 mph 6.5 seconds (3.2V6 R32)
Slowest - top speed 101mph/0-60mph 16.7 seconds (2.0 SDi)
Best - 56.8mpg (1.9TDi)
Worst - 28.9mpg (2.8VR6)
Best - 57.6mpg (1.9 TDI
Worst - 24.6mpg (3.2 V6 R32)
Best - 62.8mpg (1.9TDI BlueMotion) 54.3mpg (1.9 TDI)
Worst - 26.2mpg (3.2 V6 R32)
Best - 119g/km 13% tax band C (1.9TDi BlueMotion)
Worst - 255g/km 35% tax band M (3.2V6 R32)
Lowest - group 4 (1.4S) group 6 (Golf 1.6FSI, 1.9TDI, 2.0SDI)
Highest - group 18 (3.2 R32 4Motion)
Euro NCAP safety rating
Five stars (2004) four Stars (1998)
How much for a Golf?
£0-500 buys a 1997 1.4 L five door with 131,000 miles
£1,000 buys a 1997 1.8 Convertible with 97,000 miles
£2,000 buys a 2000 2.0 GTI five door with 94,000 miles
£4,000 buys a 2004 1.9SE TDI 100 five door with 99,800 miles
£6,000 buys a 2006 1.6 SE FSI five door with 55,000 miles
£8,000 buys a 2008 1.9 GT TDi 140 with 74,000 miles
£10,000 buys a 2008 1.4S TSI DSG Automatic with 26,000 miles
£12,000 buys a 2009 2.0 TDi Sportline DSG five door with 23,000 miles
Why buy a Golf?
Volkswagen Golf Mark 3
The Golf is the class leader in the small hatchback category. It has established an enviable reputation for reliability and toughness. This rugged range of cars is also very practical with a good-sized boot and reasonable interior space. Regarded as safe and comfortable, it is one of the few cars that can be bought on name alone.
No one ever made a mistake buying a Golf, even though it costs more than most of its competitors. Image as well as quality is something that has to be paid for. When it is time to sell the resale value and buyer demand is as impressive as the Golf itself.
Buy a Golf 3 because you want a very cheap runaround and don't expect too much. Buy a Golf 4 because you want a nice interior environment and some excellent diesel and petrol engines. Buy a Golf 5 because you want the quality and a decent driving experience and are prepared to pay for it.
What's the best spec Golf?
Specification was never a Golf strong point and buyers had to add carefully the options they wanted because the standard car was always quite basic. December 1994 is the important date when the Mark 3 had driver airbags as standard, along with immobilisers and power steering across the range.
Overall the Mark 4 was better for safety features such as ABS and driving comfort issues such as adjustable seats and power steering, but you need to seek out remote locking and air conditioning, which can only be found on the middle order models. As for the Mark 4, S specification just meant electric mirrors, SE added velour upholstery, rear head restraints, an uprated eight-speaker stereo, trip computer and centre armrests. SE combined with GT models added front fog lamps, sports seats, alloy wheels, colour coded trim, and leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear knob.
By the Mark 5 every Golf has electric front windows and mirrors, CD player and remote locking. S trim adds air conditioning, while Match means alloys, cruise control and automatic lights, wipers and rear electric windows. GTs have front fog lights, dual zone climate control, leather steering wheel, larger alloy wheels and sports suspension.
The latest Mark 6 has on the basic S model, air conditioning, electric front windows, CD player and remote locking. SE adds alloys, cruise control, rear electric windows plus automatic lights and wipers. GT means sports suspension, plusher trim and sports seats.
Golf 3 1992 - 1998
Launched with 1.4, 1.8, 2.0 and 2.8 petrol engines and a 1.8 Turbo diesel.
1993 1.6 engine.
1994 estate models with 1.8, 1.9 and 2.0 engines all have power steering. New 1.9 diesel engine.
1995 1.4 and 1.6 have engine power increased.
Golf 4 1998 - 2004
All-new Mark 4 Golf launched with 1.4, 1.6, 1.8, 1.8 Turbo engines, plus three progressively powerful 1.9 diesel engines. Hatchback and convertible models.
1999 estate versions introduced.
2000 pump diesel engines introduced. More powerful V5 engines now 150bhp also 4WD 4-Motion with V6 engine
2001 pump diesels with more power and six-speed gearbox.
2002 3.2 R32 ultimate performance Golf.
Golf 5 2004 -2009
New models with four cylinder petrol engines (1.4, 1.6) and new 2.0 Pump Diesel units. GTI 2.0 Turbo DSG (Direct Shift Gearbox) is an option. Golf Plus bigger than a standard Golf.
2005 GT model with 1.4 TSI engine or 2.0 TDi R32 with updated 3.2 litre V6 engine and 4Motion system.
2005 GTI Edition 30 with special colours, alloy wheels and trim.
2007 Estate model.
Golf 6 2009 -
Revised model with 1.4, 1.6 and 2.0 petrol engines and 1.6 TDi and 2.0 TDi diesels, the ultra economical BlueMotion model.
What should I look for on a used Golf?
Volkswagen Golf Mark 4
Treat a Mark 3 as you would any car that is over 13 years old, with caution. You need to check for general wear and tear, tyres, exhaust, brakes, that sort of thing, especially rust on the sills, floorpan, tailgate and doors. Rust is something that should not affect a Golf 4 until it's 12 years old. The level of galvanising and body protection was class leading at the time.
Golf was once another word for reliability, but since the Mark 3 there has been plenty of electrical issues, especially the windows, central locking and alarm system. Faults with the ECU (the engine's electronic brain) causes misfires, particularly on early Mark 4s. Ignition coils were a weak spot on the 1.8Ts so should no longer be an issue. Owners reported that clutches have had a relatively short life, no more than 50,000 miles. With the Mark 5s, there have been some steering rack failures and FSi petrol engines running roughly on supermarket petrol.
What's the marketplace like for the Golf?
Everyone wants a Golf. Even though the models have been good and bad over the years the demand remains strong. Although the Mark 3 is firmly in the banger territory now, most Mark 4 petrols are there too. Diesels are the most sought after irrespective of size or age. So pricey to buy as an SE five-door with a diesel engine.
Which Golfs should I buy?
Volkswagen Golf Mark 5
Unless it is a performance GTI, always aim for a five-door, which is more practical and flexible for you and will be far easier to resell. With all versions there is a truly massive range of engine options.
On the whole the smallest petrols do seem to struggle with a laden Golf, so avoid some of the earlier 1.4s, although the latest TSI models are much more perky. However, if you don't do a big mileage don't dismiss the 1.6 or 1.8 models.
Also, if you want value and performance then the V5, old VR6 and the GTIs are cheap because not everyone wants a sporty package. But it is a wonderful opportunity to get a bargain fast Golf. Otherwise everyone wants diesels. The old 1.9 non-turbo diesels are very basic and reliable units, otherwise a 155 or 130bhp model is fine for most uses. Later 2.0 engines and the PD badged Pump Diesels have a great blend of power and economy and 50+ mpg is the return. Air conditioning became fairly standard from 2000 on and, where possible, try and find an SE model.
Where do I shop for Golfs?
It is important to remember that there is no such thing as a cheap Golf. They hold their value well and are in great demand. A cheap Golf may have a suspect history, could be stolen or have a major fault. Volkswagen dealers are an expensive place to shop but their approved used scheme is one of the best on offer. Compared to an independent dealer warranty the VW scheme is actually very good value for money. A very popular private purchase, it is possible to find genuine family-owned examples with full service history at attractive prices, but obviously with no warranty.
Any alternatives to the Golf?
Audi A3 A Golf with an upmarket badge. More expensive and different rather than better. More sporty to look at and drive but not necessarily a good thing if you want a practical small car.
Renault Megane Spacious, stylish and nice to drive. Good levels of standard equipment and competitive prices. However, not as well built, solid or as special as the Golf.
Ford Focus As good to own, drive and live with as a Golf. This is the default choice for those who want choice, value and a better driving experience. Probably the best value for money.
Buy a Volkswagen Golf on Auto Trader
On Bing: more pictures of VW Golfs
related stories on msn
I had a mark 2 GTI ages ago, excellent car, loved it to bits, but due to a broken wrist, I had to have a car with power steering for a while. Had a mk3 astra for a while, not very interesting but never ever once let me down, but was written off when a pi$$head hit it while parked. Had a mk3 golflf GTI afterwards, as I loved the Mk2 so much. A complete nightmare from start to end. None of the reliability oer golfs the Mk2, cost me over £4k in repairs in the 3 years that I had it (this is back in 2000-2002 so the car wasnt that old then. A complete nightmare, really put me off VW full stop. Work friends with later golfs had problems, electrical problems with a mark 4. My boss had a new golf in 2005, had electrical problems, driver seat back collapse (he is less than 10 stone), and a chain tensioner on the engine (if those are the right words??) fail making it rattle like an old truck. Really nice cars when all is well with them, but no where near as reliable as made out to be, which a massive shame.
Latest Cars videos
Engineers are using robots to test Ford vehicles through some of the most strenuous obstacles in the industry.
Date 18/06/13, Duration 2:20, Views 309