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Volkswagen Golf Mk7 (2012 - 2019) Review

Not many models make it to seven generations. However, the Volkswagen Golf is a little bit different. It has been in the UK since it was originally launched in 1976, the Mk1 put VW on the map in the UK and nowadays the Golf is one of the most popular cars

Starting price:
From: £17,595

From: £17,595
Why we love it:
  • More efficient engines
  • Design is timeless
  • Even more spacious than before
Where it could be better:
  • For some design is bland
  • Lots of tech is optional
  • May seem like an obvious choice
Buy and save on quality approved and used cars


Is it seventh heaven for Volkswagen and Golf? Well it certainly looks good in black and white.  Golf has grown in length and width (by 56mm and 13mm respectively), meaning there’s more interior space. Up front, VW’s engineers have added 20mm more leg space and 31mm more shoulder space, while rear passengers are not left out, there’s 15mm more legroom and 30mm more shoulder space.

But it’s not just interior space, golf has shed 100kg, and there’s a new range of frugal engines. Is this the best VW Golf ever? Keep reading to find out. 

On The Road


Plenty of choice is available whether you require petrol or diesel engines.

The entry-level petrol engine is the 1.0-litre TSI BlueMotion producing 113bhp, there’s a 1.4-litre TSI with 120bhp and a 1.4-litre TSI with a power output of 138bhp engine with Active Cylinder Technology to maximize efficiency.

The best selling model in the UK is likely to be the 138bhp 1.4-litre TSI engine. It will cover the benchmark sprint in 8.4 seconds and goes on to a top speed of 131mph when mated to either a six-speed manual or a DSG ‘box.

Performance fans will opt for the true hot hatch models on the range, the GTI or the R model.

These include favourites such as the 1.6-litre TDI with 89bhp and 104bhp and a new 2.0-litre TDI 147bhp unit.

Opt for the 147bhp 2.0-litre engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox and it will reach 62mph from a standing start in 8.6 seconds (8.6 seconds with a six-speed DSG ‘box) and has a top speed of 134mph (131mph with a six-speed DSG ‘box).

The GTD engine is one of our favourite cars. It uses a high-power 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine producing 181bhp and 380Nm. This is the GTI of diesel cars. It will complete the benchmark sprint in 7.5 seconds and go on to a top speed of 142mph.

Volkswagen has also added an electric e-Golf to the range. Its has a range of 118 miles and has a limited top speed of 87mph.

For those who want a bit more oomph, but still want to do their bit for the environment, well there’s always the Golf GTE plug-in hybrid. Volkswagen claims it has a claimed average of 188mpg while it will cover the benchmark sprint in 7.6 seconds.

Ride Handling

As we mentioned earlier, the seventh generation has shed 100kg, making it more efficient but also making it much better to drive. Never a bad thing. This Golf feels much more agile while bodyroll is minimal making it lots of fun on twisty B roads. Front-end grip is first class.

This iteration from the entry-level model upwards comes with XDS – this historically was reserved for the flagship GTI model. XDS detects slip at the front wheels and alters the amount of power to stop wheel spin making the handling even better.

The Golf is fitted driver modes, these vary the weighting of the steering. At slow speeds it feels very artificial but it does get much better when at speed.


As you would expect comfort levels are high. The Golf has a classy cabin, there could be a bit more imagination but as a wise man once coined the phrase – “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” – and the Golf is certainly not broken. Road, wind and tyre noise are minimal while the ride is excellent. 

In The Car

Behind the Wheel

There’s seven trim levels on the regular Golf starting from S, BlueMotion, Match, e-Golf, GT, GTD and GTE. Breathe in, there lots of kit to take in.

The entry-level S comes with Composition Media system, this includes a 5.8-inch colour touchscreen, DAB digital radio, a CD player, MDI interface (for connecting iPod or MP3 player), Bluetooth telephone preparation and audio streaming and eight speakers.

BlueMotion adds aerodynamic bodywork features, BlueMotion badging, 15-inch alloys and lowered, sports suspension.

Highlights on the Match trim includes ADC (Automatic Distance Control) with Front Assist and City Emergency Braking, Driver Alert System, PreCrash preventative occupant protection, Driver Profile Selection, rain-sensitive wipers, brushed stainless steel decorative inserts, a leather-trimmed handbrake grip, gear lever and multi-function steering wheel, front and rear parking sensors, electrically folding door mirrors with integral puddle lights, auto-dimming rear view mirror and 16-inch alloys.

The e-Golf adds dual zone climate control and an eight-inch touchscreen Discover Pro satnav.

Highlights on the GT version includes 17-inch alloys, front fog lights and air intakes with chrome surrounds, Alcantara and cloth sports seats, LED reading lights, ambient lighting in the doors and centre console, electrically foldable door mirrors with puddle lights, and front and rear parking sensors with visual display and the Discover Navigation media system.

Move up to the GTD and GTE models and these cars receive 18 inch alloys, 15mm lower sports suspension, bi-xenon headlamps with LED day running lights, LED tail lights, unique bumper designs and a sports interior with grey detailing on the GTD, blue on the GTE.

Space & Practicality

Growing in size means that the seventh iteration has more space both for front and rear passengers while the boot space has also been enhanced. Load space with the seats in place now stands at 380 litres, that’s up 30 litres from the previous model and this also means that the Golf has now got one of the largest boots in the sector. Fold the rear bench and the load space expands to 1,270 litres.


Running Costs

If you’re choice is centred on frugality and low CO2 emissions then you should be opting for the 108bhp 1.6-litre TDI BlueMotion engine. It has a claimed average economy of 88.3mpg and emits 85g/km of CO2. Servicing can be pricey when comparing to the likes of Ford or Vauxhall so it may be best to choose a service package when you initially purchase the car. However, running costs are good and the Golf’s residual value will be much better than many competitors.

Quality & Reliability

Volkswagen is one of the best on the market. The cars are built with real quality and the vehicles fare well in reliability surveys. The engines are all proven and we believe the Golf will continue to be one of the most reliable cars in its sector.

Safety & Security

There is plenty of safety kit on the seventh generation Golf. Highlights include seven airbags, ABS with ESP, XDS electronic differential lock and Isofix attachments. As expected, the Golf was awarded five stars when tested by Euro NCAP.

See the latest used Volkswagen Golf offers.

Buy and save on quality approved and used cars
By Simon McBride
Dec 14, 2015

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