Essays : Volkswagen Golf – Does anyone REALLY do it better?

After spending time driving around the UK at Christmas, Mike Humble wonders if the Golf truly does lead where others merely follow.

And comes to an unsurprising conclusion.

Simply the best?

Our Volkswagen Golf Mk6 TDI - Bland, boring but bloody brilliant? I think so!

I seem to have a certain affinity with Germany if I think and look hard enough, my record collection contains nearly everything Kraftwerk ever produced, I adore those Brockwurst style sausages that come in glass jars, and for the first three years of my life – I lived there owing to my parents serving in the British Armed Forces.

Needless to say, I draw the line at genocide or invading Poland for that matter and I have never jumped in career terms from being a painter and decorator to dictator, but certainly as far as automotive matters go – Our German cousin Fritz… seldom puts a Jack Boot wrong!

When they do though, it all rather oddly gets quickly forgotten, take the Audi A2 for example – a silly looking car that was a similar size to our own CityRover, as enjoyable as a ruptured spleen and yet hideously expensive. The Golf 3 was a rusting pig of a car and certain Mercedes-Benz vehicles from a generation back rot through quicker than a beer tin in a Soviet salt mine. The last generation Passat was priced above and beyond its competition yet had the build quality akin to an ’80s Citroën – I should know, I ran one, but sadly unlike our own Rover – they learn well and fast!

Our other car is a Golf 6 TDi Match SE which recently replaced a Golf 5 TDi, ‘er indoors company hack which has covered an impressive 27,000 miles in nearly six months. To be honest, I don’t have a lot to do with the car except clean it, check the fluids and top up the washer bottle.

My missus, Jacky, is never vocal about anything (unless I forget to put the bin out) like myself, she expects things to work first time and will play the Whinge along with Jack LP* if things do not suit, but not once have I ever heard any word of complaint about the Golf. In her job it gets pounded along farm tracks, sits in endless jams and endures various high speed trips all around the South Coast– and never misses a beat!

Not a single bulb has popped, oil consumption from new has been half a pint and the only water it uses gets sprayed onto the windows – even the tyres are still inflated with 100% German air. No squeaks, rattles, its bereft of any inferior quality plastics and every switch and knob has a sublime damped feel rather than that awful loud click action you find in some cars – just an eerie quiet world of German efficiency.

The 1.6 TDi engine has loosened up to become a refined plant, and with only 105bhp under your right foot, its torquey and sweet in action even if the power does drop off akin to being thrown from a window if the rev counter dips below 1500rpm.

The fuel consumption is staggering for such a weighty car, never dipping below an average of 55mpg – and she does drive it like its stolen. But she still remains undecided as to whether she should buy one with her own money, though after driving Volkswagens for over two years and only ever having two breakdowns (one puncture and a faulty key fob on the previous model) what else is there that can pretty much guarantee flawless service.

The Mégane is simply dire, a Seat Leon is a compromise, the Octavia is a decent well made car – but she’s a badge snob and the Astra is the nearest thing on wheels to being banished to life in Kings Lynn.

The Golf (like its latest advert plays on) is still the standard other makers aspire to hit, and ever since 1974, the rest of the world plays second fiddle to the VW. Keith Adams said to me only just the other day ‘it’s the Great White Shark of the automotive world’ – I totally agree with those sentiments after spending the whole of the Christmas period behind the wheel visiting our relatives.

I’m getting old, suffer from mild arthritis and ache like crazy behind the wheel of certain cars. Her car when we first met was a Megane Cabriolet that gave me what I called ‘Renault Knee” owing to the awful pedal postitions, I briefly owned an Orion Ghia 1.8 which nigh on crippled me if I drove it for more than an hour while the bubble shape Rover 200 crowned me the King Of Bad Backs.

Certain cars however, I can drive for hours on end, the 406 for me, was quite possibly the most effortless place to be, all the Saabs I have owned have been the same, The later Ford Sierra had superb seats while my ex company A4 Avant S-Line had chairs that were just so, spoilt by a tooth shatteringly hard ride at low speeds.

But the Golf? Well its faultless – not a car to excite, but one that does everything just fine and nothing poorly – call it an automotive compromise if you like. Brand perception – engineering excellence – superb refinement – sublime seats – strong brakes – one of the best audio systems I have ever come across and the almost written in tablet guarantee of reliability.

Rather like older generation Volvos and Mercs, the Golf is a car that simply does everything it’s tasked with – no tricks, no fuss, no compromises and above all, with simple quiet competence. It is however crushingly dull, but there again so was the Toyota Corolla and how many of those were sold to the world.

Taking the car’s lack of thrill out of the mix, there is nothing whatsoever that annoys or frustrates the driver (or passenger) and as I have found out, you can drive it non stop… forever, knowing that you will give out long long before the car does. If the Golf were a tool it would be hammer – designed for one job, heavy and unexciting to look at, but both alarmingly effective and very satisfying in use – and perhaps, just as capable as knocking a nail into a wall.

*LP = Big black round thing with hole in the middle that emitted sound or music – for those of a younger age.

Mike Humble


  1. It’s surprising what cars can cripple you and what cars don’t. One of my neighbours owns a late Volvo 760 (big with soft squidgy seats) and a Mazda RX-7 (low down with a rock-hard ride). After any long journey, the Volvo would give him back ache, neck ache, leg ache, basically any body part that could ache, ached. Whereas after a long trip in the RX-7 he’d get out as fresh as a daisy!
    And my Dad sold his VW Passat, purely because it was so damm uncomfortable. It seems the key is in adjustability, rather than the seat itself.
    By the way Mike, if you like Bratwurst sausages, I can recommend Waitrose 🙂

  2. I really don’t understand my reaction to the Golf. It’s probably a very good car. I guess I hate the way it seems to have been designed to be both very good and to genuinely appeal to people who have absolutely no interest in cars whatsoever. I got more interested in choosing a new washing machine than when I went to look at a new Golf GTI to replace a MINI Cooper S. At least I got out of the car at Curry’s to go and have a look. However, when I got to the VW garage, neither my wife nor I could be bothered to get out of the MINI and look at the Golf! Regular average to poor scores in JD Power surveys didn’t help either…

  3. No,you can be a stinking tramp or a royal family member and still look the part in a golf-they are classless you dont need a beemer or a merc,there is no arrogance just a dignified high quality driving instrument.

  4. Another Spooky Essay Mike, have just been to the Chinese
    for tonight’s Takeaway in our Mk6, Looks like the same colour as yours “Steel Grey?” and whilst you appear to have a decent 1.6 TDi, Ours hence the name has been an absolute bag of Sh*te.

    You mention the words “Torquey and Sweet ” Fuel Consumption is staggering for such a weighty car, never dipping below an average of 55mpg ??

    I do not doubt what you say Mike but compared to ours it sounds like a completely different car ! Ours is the SE Bluemotion Version (Match replaced SE), I can sing its praises…. Which wont take long, Brilliant Motorway car 70 mph is 2100 rpm and apart from wind noise a fairly hushed cruiser.

    However fuel consumption we average 41 mpg and is truly Horrible to drive in traffic due to hesitations and flat spots, ours also suffers from Diesel Knock which dealers are unable to cure at present, it is on its 4th or is it 5th DISS report and 3rd ECU update. But you cant polish a Turd.

    I have come to the conclusion that Ours is Broken with a Capital F, but on VW Audi Forums is no worse than other Disgrunted VW 1.6 TDi Owners Inc Seat Audi and Skoda with that engine, Also worth mentioning is the VW Courtesy Cars we keep getting, One of which was a Polo petrol 1.4, I should perhaps take back what I have just said about Ours being Horrible to drive, However it did get more miles per gallon than our supposed Highly economical offering.

    I remember trading in our Beloved Rover 220D during the scrappage for this car and whilst driving home felt Deeply unmoved by the thing, reminiscent of a 1980s Datsun Cherry, almost domestic white goods, (I wont mention the bits that have fallen off ours), whilst Our MK4 Golf (2nd car but we use it more) drives much nicer, feels more solid and get much more mpg.

    So quite Jealous of yours that works Mike ! you appear to have a good one…New Golf late 2012, (rumoured to be a Seat Leon with new front end?) Hence all the adverts at present to get shot of stock! ( Incidentally are doing some decent discounts on Golfs, 2.0TDi is my pick).

    Meanwhile many have explained the differences between the VW group.

    Audi = VW in Burton Suit,

    Seat = VW in shell Suit

    Skoda = Seat in a Boiler Suit.

    Happy New Year !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. I have a 1985 Mk2 GTI 8valve golf. So far since I got it MOTd in May it’s done a shade over 16K miles, Cost me once on the road £495, only issue I have had with it was when I ran though a deep puddle and drowned the ignition. However I still find no soul in it, but if only everything was as reliable as a (80’s) volkswagen. However the XM has also been equally reliable, but then that does not go out so much

  6. Hugely overrated in my book. A mate of mine has a mid-range example of the previous model Golf (lose track of which Mark it is), not a sporting model, and the ride is awful. It jolts badly on typical British roads and is not a comfortable place to be. His Mark 1 Focus rode much better as did the Rover 200 and every Astra I’ve ridden in. The Focus is also over-rated in my opinion, with the models I’ve been in being noisy with a small boot. I’ll take an Astra any day.

    Final word: The Renault Megane is a car with the engineering integrity of a bar of chocolate but at least it rides well.

  7. That’s the point – the Golf is essentially designed to be an appliance. Designed to appeal to (even and particular) all those people who are not interested in cars. I’d not buy one, good they may be, but so uninteresting. Another Maestro – hmmm 🙂

  8. I own a 2.0 GT TDI 140 which delights me,especially now ive fitted a torque box,prior to this it was just a tad hesitant at low revs,ive also used a specialist aerosol egr cleaner(used while engine at fast idle)and the car is now transformed and exceeded my expectations,it returns 50+mpg and destroys audi S3’s i think personally if you have a problem with driveability in terms of running problems i would avoid the dealers-just because they have the gear doesnt mean they have the idea!use a specialist like frank massey in preston or camco or any other dedicated engine management specialist.

  9. @ francis brett

    If I could turn back time then the 2.0tdi 140 would of been my choice, however at the time of purchase the 2.0tdi 110 was being phased out and the new 1.6 Tdi were being introduced, After all the years of buying cars I should of stuck to the “Rules of Play” which if its your own money, never buy something just released as any Brand New Design is bound to have teething troubles, whether it be from the the body shell itself (water leeks or Rust) or the brand new designed engine, History has it that only when a car is nearing ready for replacement does all the faults become rectified.

    The 1.6 as far as know is basically a smaller version of the 2.0TDi ? which itself didnt have a good reputation (Crank failure on pre Common Rail ) but on ordering this car we looked at the figures which do appear “To good to be true” and awaited delivery, even then I did have my doubts despite Car Magazines raving about the car with only the slightest mention of “Lack of low down Torque” but all commented on splendid economy.

    Ours has never been right since we picked it up after three Dealers kept saying there isnt anything wrong with it, However you are quite right about Dealers lack of know how, a trip to who was going to re map the car (He has made a small fortune on that engine alone) refused to alter anything (excessive Diesel Knock) but wrote me a Diagnostic report, I did mention this to previous dealers who all dismissed it !

    It is at the Dealers now as it is still under Warranty 16k, with the possibility of new Injectors thats if VW UK cough up ! Incidentally and worth a mention, the courtesy car I have Tiguan 1.6TDi, whilst a slight hesitations here and there has vastly nicer engine manners, though slightly noisier and not that much performance still manages higher mpg figures than mine despite the heavy body (feels like a van with carpets).

    It has 6 speeds rather than my over the top 5 and I can now just accelerate in 2nd gear whilst crawling in traffic, Ours you either slip the clutch and rev (it will stall abruptly if you dont) or slam it into 1st, However I cant help rip the P*ss out of its Slack Drive Line (quite a few VWs I have experienced lately) The revs take a while to drop when changing gear and tremendous amount of Trim Rattles, I can also detect a noisy rear wheel bearing, it only has 5k miles on the clock!.

    Now the problems that I have experienced, had this been a Rover then It would practically have been my fault for being silly in buying one! However since it is German it comes under the “Gentleman’s Agreement” of well even VW sometimes get things wrong….

  10. Got to disagree, other half has a 61-plate 1.6 TDI Golf BlueMotion (Match spec) we’ve had it from Perth to London and back (900 mile round trip) and it returned 62.2mpg on a steady run down the motorway. I have an Audi A4 with the older 2.0 PD TDI 140bhp engine and I can’t believe how tractor-like it is compared to the Golf, which sounds more like an old OHV petrol engine than a diesel when it is ticking over.

    Apart from the passenger side air vent, which is starting to make an annoying rubbing noise, the Golf has been faultless. Sounds like you bought a Friday car!!

  11. Guy I used to work with bought a Golf brand new (around 2007ish) and had terrible trouble with it.
    The turbo went.
    The MAF went.
    The ESP module went just out of warranty. VW were going to charge £1500! only he had a full VW Dealer service history and threatened to go to trading standards.

  12. Sorry, I just won’t go near one. I was born to enjoy driving and love cars, even if the cars in reality aren’t perfect. The Golf has no personality, is relatively expensive compared to some of its rivals (even though it is a premium offering in that market sector) and delivers everything you could want it to, aside from zest.

    As others have already said, it is a white good that serves a function (and very well) and usually appeals to those not looking for soul and personality in a car. Give me a nice diesel-powered Rover 25 or MG ZR any day. Flawed they might be, but at least I will have a smile on my face.

  13. @Kevin Steele

    What is it you dont agree with? The 1.6 TDi is quiet although a few people have commented it was a bit noisy but didnt realise it was actually a Diesel… but generally speaking is still quieter than the 2.0 TDi (Common Rail) whilst the PD models were not exactly blessed with quietness, The VW Propaganda states the 1.6 TDi should achieve near 900 miles on a full tank? no matter how hard we try we can only manage around 500.

    I have noticed VW’s despite built in a State of the art Factory by precision Robots, Quality varies from car to car (can Robots have a bad day?) My relative has a Renault 57 Cleo which has been quite neglected from birth and has the tiniest and flimsy feel to its doors reminiscent to a Mk2 Fiesta has only let her down once, a slightly flat battery which can only guess was the Radio which had a mind of its own… once disconnected has never had a problem since.

    Our old Golf 1.9 Tdi now 10 years old is still plodding on ! although it wasnt always a Saint as it blew an oil Core Plug located behind the Fly Wheel @ 25k,other than timing belts and service parts it has since cost us a new electric window winder/cable thingy…

    So Manufacturers can build reliable cars including Renault (bet plenty will say otherwise) however I m not seeing this lately from VW, (they cant all be Friday Cars?) And have just noticed our courtesy car which has supposed brushed aluminium trim is coming off !

  14. I must admit that VW quality didn’t appear to be as good as I expected – drove a brand new Polo 1.9SDi a few years back and it rattled like hell and was louder than my beloved BX 1.9 XUD! My mate also bought a brand new Audi A4 2.4 Auto which lunched its transmission ECU but the A2 1.4 SE my ex’s parents bought has been the perfect car (more reliable than their old 214 8v).

    Coincedently, of all the cars I’ve owned, the BX was the most reliable I’ve owned. Whereas the Xantia was a disaster – though I did make the mistake of buying the 2.1TD with the Lucas Drive by Wire throttle… Only car I’ve ever come across where the ECU would freeze!

    Now this may be me, but I found Vauxhalls more reliable than their Opel badged equivalents. Certainly cheaper to repair!

  15. Does everything it’s supposed to and won’t go wrong – but, like the Polo and Passat it feels a generation behind the latest Fords etc in terms of design and driving quality. They feel old fashioned somehow and, as others have said, there is no emotional attachment – no more than a fridge or a wardrobe. Having said that if you’re spending your own money and need to sell it afterwards, they make a lot of sense.

  16. Its a very good car Mike. Ignore the knockers, in my experience the people who have negative things to say about German cars are those that cant afford to buy one!

  17. …doesn’t necessarily mean its the best though. To some extent when it comes to buying anything you have to “go with the flow” if you want to recoup your investment. Volkswagens, Audi’s etc keep their value but then they cost more in the first place so, as an investment are you better off with a Kia or a VW – I’m not sure to be honest.

    Paul – Your comment maybe belies some of the snobbery around ownership of German cars and the focus on “image”. But, addressing your point, I suppose if there is a gripe againsy German cars, and I have had a few, it is that they are ultra conservative (look at a BMW 3 Series, Golf or Audi A4 from 1995, and then the current models and spot the difference if you can)and because they are considered the default choice for so many they stiffle real innovation and actually limit choice. Whether I buy a 3 series, A4, Mondeo, Insignia, 508, C5, V40,I am buying a German car “wannabe”. Years ago you had a real choice as to the characteristics you wanted from your car because a VW Golf was different from a Citroen GS for example and you could decide which suited your needs better. Now there is a herd mentality – everybody wants the same, or have been told by the marketing men that they want the same, i.e. great handling, space inefficient, hard ride. So, yes, it is a very good car, but there are cars that perform better than the Golf in some ways, but it’s a sensible choice because everybody else thinks its a sensible choice!

  18. Hmm some say there is a stigma attached to Golf Drivers looking down on so called lesser road users, or ford owners looking up to VW. But I dont feel superiour in any way and we have two of them…Remember the slogan the Critics gave the Rover 600? “Your Neighbours will think youve made it…But you know you havent”..

    However we did feel I bought the better product when we chose our Mk4 Golf over a Mk1 Focus, However that was more down to past experiences with both products and always felt VWs were more resilient to rust.

    We bought another Golf (mk6) on the strength of our mk4 which although not exciting in any way, in fact doesnt handle that well but can be made to hurry (just remember slow for the bends …gently accelerate leaving) but against it’s rivals it had a nicer interior though again not actually that special just very competent in what it does in a non offending way and does what it says on the box.

    The package of VW or even any German product is the perceived quality and resale value which is enough to persuade buyers to part with their cash! which is where I feel VW has taken advantage of customers of late and given something in one hand and taken more thn they gave in the other! But perhaps I have one of the worst examples?

    Talking of which just got the car back sporting new Injectors, (Not a cheap item I believe) small blessings it is still under warranty,Though I got a ticking off for using Asda fuel…(should cheap fuel really destroy Vw Injectors?) Driving home the trip read a dizzy 61 mpg, something this car has able to achieve (never got past 47 which itself read 7-8 fast), more to the point the fuel gauge moved alarmingly in chunks, but is early days and a 20 min run the gauge hardly moved… could this be the car it should have always been?

    The Diesel knock is slightly present and it still bunny hops, It is to be used for another 500miles then re check, but I am amazed at the difference.. Wonder if they can sort the trim rattles?

    Incidentally The only time I did feel superior to other road users was driving a friends Rover 75, I even started to look down on Audi/BMW drivers and can remember jumping in our then 4 yr old Golf after and felt ….Bit shoddy, One day will have a 75.

  19. Well in my opinion Mike as a former Bora, Passat and caddy owner my answer to your question would be no, no one does it better. Going from the caddy to a berlingo is akin to going from an efficient hotel to a cardboard box on the embankment.

  20. Sorry but VW has been off the pace for years with the Golf. Its very expensive to buy, poorly specced unless you’re prepared to pay the value of a tidy R3 to spec it up to same as a Focus and for its ‘class’ its too small.

    The original Golf was meant to be a replacement for the Beetle, the ‘People’s Car’ therefore it needed to be reasonably priced and well specced. We had a late Mk1 Jetta in the 1980s and it was a lovely car. But since the demise of the Mk3 its been about style and how much can we get away with charging the punter. The Mk6 wasn’t even a real Mk, it was a cheapened version of the Mk5. This car sells in the same way the 1 Series sells, people use it to show off how much money they have.

  21. @26 sorry dont agree at all,the golf is classless and since the MK2 it always has been,sit in the new golf and it oozes quality,the focus is function over form and looks crap anyway,only dafties are going to buy a one series especially the coupe(joke coupe at that)and other tit heads because they think it has cache only everyone else must think they are a tosser,the golf just looks the part,feels the part and drives the part.

  22. A good car, yes , I just wish VW made it more interesting, even the new Astra (and Im no GM fan), has nicer lines.

  23. Re: Francis saying that the Golf is classless.
    This has been discussed on another forum.
    In my opinion VW have been using advertising to push the fact that they want to be seen as an aspirational item, and that people may buy them purely for the “driveway status” they perceive they will get from the neighbours.

  24. @30 only its like a golf!? i agree what you are saying in terms of marketing but wether its a 1.4 0r GTI they still look the business,and they feel so tactile inside.

  25. The Ford Focus is far better value, many are made in Germany, and the servicing and repair costs are far lower. Also reliability surveys seem to suggest the Focus is more reliable than the Golf. However, the blue oval badge doesn’t impress middle class neighbours as much as the VW badge. Yet a Ford nowadays is probably as much a German car as a Volkswagen- my Fiesta is made in Saarlouis- but some people think of the dodgy Escorts and Sierras from over 20 years ago when they see a Ford.

  26. not only was the article interesting, but i find these comments also. after a string of small petrol hatchs, nearing and then turning 30 meant i’ve had a few diesel small family cars with differing results. Reaching company car status gained me a Ford Focus 2.0 137bhp TDI titanium in 2007. And i soon ended up on first name terms with my local ford dealer service manager. The car was lovely to drive, but a continual nightmate, eating two dual mass flywheels in 70k miles (and before anyone says it’s my driving, the ka which proceeded it racked up 90,000 on its original clutch when i very sadly sold it on). Finally after 30 months, i was freed from my company car status, and the focus was replaced with a £1500 115bhp Mk4 Golf tdi with 143,000 on the clock. I’ve just traded that in, 2.5yrs later with 196,000 on the clock for £1100. In which time I took it from glasgow to lands end…twice, it racked up 20 music festivals, with associated farm tracks, bumps, 5 people and a full boot etc. Make many trips laden to the tip and moved house twice. And all it ever needed was oil, filter and cambelt changes & a new radiator after a stone holed the old one. (garage wanted £500 to change the rad, i did it myself in a weekend for £100 all in). It’s replacement? a Mk6 140bhp GT TDI with 10k on the clock. I’m utterly in love with it, it’s fast, comfortable, very very quiet, and i can get 55mpg easy and a good 62mpg on a long trip with use of cruise control. i dont find it wooly or bland, though the size of the thing took a little getting used to. i do find it light, agile, responsive, comfortable and very useful. I dont ever miss that focus mind you.

  27. @26 Ben Adams..
    Yes the original golf was a replacemnt for the beetle, therefore it had to be cheap, totally UNSPECCCED and very basic. Which it was.. although by the end of the Mk2 it was not cheap anymore, and had gained a lot of uneeded stuff. I’ve been driveing a very basic Mk2 GTI for near a year now racking up over 2000 miles a month in it. Can anyone tell me why I need PAS, airbags, ABS or leccy windows or any of the other stuff we aparently ‘need’ I still belive there is a place for a very basic unspeced up car on the market

  28. I got landed with a’07 plate Mk5 Golf 1.9TDi for 9 months whilst I was waiting for the ‘New’ Mk6 to come out as a company car. The fuel tank developed a massive leak – I called the RAC out – (who told me that mk5 golfs have a dislike for cheap supermarket fuel which rots out the joints in the plastic tank if left dormant for a long time – this one had been sat in a field for 6 months) he took it to the local VW dealer and the next day it was back to me with a new tank fitted (I was expecting a long delay as a fuel tank is hardly a consumable! confirming that VW are aware of this issue). After 9 long months driving with ear plugs in (the 1.9 is a nasty agricultural unit more suited to a tractor), back ache, and being bored rigid I went to see the Mk6 in the showroom to choose the spec of the new car – I was amazed to find it was almost identical to the MK5! How on earth they got away with maketing as a all new model, yes the dash had been revised along with the headlamps but little else! At least the 1.9 diesel got deleted from the range. Anyway I was so unipmressed with the new model I cancelled the order and opted out of the company car scheme and went out and bought a 2nd hand Disco3 and have never looked back! In my humble opinion people buy Golfs solely buy them for the badge – it is no longer classless – it is the default choice for middle England who would prefer to buy another german marque but can’t afford one.

  29. The Skoda Octavia is the same car under the skin, is roomier, and cheaper. Too many people are badge snobs, plus VW quality isn’t that good, which has been proven in customer surveys for the last few years.

  30. Not quite, theres a degree of difference. The octavia shares an engine and floorplan. My folks have a 56plate octavia 140bhp TDI with the pump duise engine, and its a fantastic car, but clearly much more cheaply made then mk mk4 golf was. And the pump duise engine is much louder then the latest commonrail mk6 diesel engines. i bought mine because it was well built, reliable, very economic, big enough to fill with 5 people + luggage, and very quiet. im happy as could be, and wouldnt swap it for an equivalent focus or astra, and certainly wouldnt want a BMW 1 series. happy times.

  31. Clearly Andy, you haven’t been keeping abreast with Skodas. The Octavia ditched the PD lump around 2 years ago now. Quality of VW’s has been slipping as each generation of cars has come along. Customer surveys prove that, and a Golf is more likely to see you paying a visit to your main dealer, where they will treat you shall we say with contempt. Skoda is now keeping VW rolling in cash, unlike the parent brand, and the UK dealer network is expanding, to try and cope with the increase in sales. Waiting lists of a year or more are now common for many models, especially the CR diesels, even for the fugly Roomster & Yeti. This is bolstering used values

  32. Octavias (and indeed Superbs) are indeed great cars (and on warranty / satisfaction surveys seem to trounce the VWs they’re based on….).
    Unfortunately they do look a little taxi-ish (mind you, I’ve had the Accord *coupe*, 406 and Orion mistaken for taxis before). Plain coloured ones with tinted windows can be mistaken for unmarked traffic branch.
    The VRS version of the mk1 Fabia and the Octavia are interesting propositions.

  33. customer surveys?are they a sample audience?anyway never mind that,my mk4 1.8 20v was utterly reliable and was quality,as is my cuurent mk5 i tend to use make my own mind up when i sit in a car if it feels right etc,if we listened to customer surveys we would all be in civics or something wouldnt we? anyone can let the survey influence thier decision and thats ok,i just keep an open mind,not every car is unreliable no matter whomakes them.

  34. Having driven a lot of Mk4 Golfs and Boras, I have to say that the build quality was pretty good and the materials in the cabin were better than the rivals (drove a lot of Astra’s, Pugs etc – all hire cars). However having owned two Mk1 Focus, its biggest rival I always found the Golf was overrated. It’s petrol engines lacked any torque or power, unless they were turbocharged, the handling was pretty dire down a country lane (even the astra was better) while accomodation was no bigger or offere better comfort. I have not driven the new Mk6 but it is one of the better looking cars, along with the rather plasticky astra and Kia, in the class – far a better design than the new Focus.

  35. Loved my old VW Golf Mark 3. It was comfortable and reliable and not bought for any image factor. I now have the Mark 4 – can’t wait to get rid: horrid brash dash in red & bright blue, which is really disrating when driving after dark, shakes your bones – feel like I’ve ricked my neck every time I drive it.

    I thought I was going to be a golf driver for life, but I’m looking else where now.

  36. I spy the Xantia poking it’s nose alongside, now *there* is a car you can drive across Europe and not have a sore back!

  37. Not a fan of Golfs. I’ve always found them to be dreary cars and the reputation for quality on the recent models seems to be something of a myth. That said, the MKII always seemed like a good car, very well made and oozed class. Now they are just status symbols for the middle class. I’m sure that many people who have them are very happy with them but they are not for me. I wouldn’t have one for the same price as the competition, let alone the premium they charge.

  38. I currently own a VW Bora 1.9 TDi, i’ve had it for a year now and has been “ok”. Nothing special even thought its the Highline model. Its an auto aswell and i average 46mpg on a run. I have never bettered this figure, but i use Morrissons diesel. I think after what others have said i will try some better diesel fuel. This is my 3rd German car and probably my last. I had an Audi 1.8T that broke down every week(no Joke). It would rev its nuts off in traffic for no reason bouncing off the rev limiter and the only way to stop it was to switch off and restart. Which would always happen as the lights turned green. The lights and windows had a mind of their own and it just felt horrible and clunky over poor roads. I had(suffered) it for 6 months and traded it at great loss for a Renaultsport clio 172. What a revelation! It rode great and took to crappy roads very well. It even managed 51mpg on a run. Then my Daughter was born and i had to go bigger, so i got an Audi A4, what a piece of crap!!! It broke down before i even left the forecourt. It gave troublesome service despite my effort to service it regularly. It handled like a P**sed up crab on greasy marbles. Everything felt cheap and that soft rubbery coating they put on the cheap plastics peeled off everywhere. I had that for a year before getting my Bora, so far like i said its been “ok”. I’ve had countless Peugeots and Citroens that have been utterly reliable. I know people slate french cars but for me they have been all i ever wanted from a car. I miss the 306’s that i had.

  39. @46,The Pugs of that era were seldom any trouble,belts and braces diesels,bombproof TU and XU series engines.
    Then it starts its slow decline with the 307 and 407.
    The new yet to be launched 308 shows hope,even the dash harks back to the 305 with a modern twist.

  40. Golf Mk 2 is certainly the high point in the Golf’s career. The Mk1 was really important, showing the way forward for European hatchbacks and the Mk2 was that same thing,PERFECTED.
    It has been down hill since then and I think that the slope is getting steeper. VolksWagen are now in a rut with their product much as they were at the beginning of the 1970s and they need badly to make another step-change. Back then when they left beetle-world for golf-world they were led by ENGINEERS and not by advertising bullshi**ers.
    Golf’s have now lost the right to be seen as classless and aspirational. They are too ordinary. There are much better, cheaper, better warrantied transport appliances out there. If you really want “VolksWagen-ness” I think you will find more of it in a Skoda.
    I’ve had a Mk2, Mk3 and Mk4 Golf. None of them since the Mk 4 have been worth a look and that Mk4 was a massive disappointment to own. Unreliability compounded by arrogant and increasingly disinterested service. I knew it would be disapointing to DRIVE when I bought it but needs must….

  41. I take issue with your assessment of the Audi A2 Mike- ‘a silly looking car’ and ‘as entertaining as a ruptured spleen’-, well, neither my spleen nor any of my other giblets are broken (although some need ongoing fettling), I have had 24 hours with an A2 diesel when my Audi A4 was in for yet more repairs. I can tell you that the A2 was probably the best thing that Audi made at that time.

    Thats not to say the A2 wasn’t very flawed. The 3 pot diesel was ridiculously torquey (although ludicrously easy to over-rev, unusual for a diesel)and it sounded more like a Scania than a little car engine- not much soundproofing yet it actually sounded good. Handling was also compromised a little by a very unsubtle ESP system. That said, part of what made it such a very engaging and fun drive was to overcome its limitations- a bit like driving a late 1980’s Alfa. And yes, the A2 was exceptionally characterful for a German shopping trolley. And bloody fast too- way more than might be suggested by its modest power figures. Accelleration was also startlingly vivid, and you needed to be equally quick to change up before the sudden intervention of the rev limiter.

    The Audi A2 is, in my opinion, an ‘unsung hero’. Not everybody will agree with me- its definately a ‘Marmite car’, and I wouldn’t blame others for hating it. Its definately not a ‘get in and drive’ car as modern Fords are (took me forever to find out how to release the fuel cap for instance). And not a car you’d choose to drive in morning cross-city traffic after a hellish night shift- its as demanding of your attention as a hyperactive 2 year old.

    How very different to the bland and functional Golf. The Golf is tasteful and understated, and no doubt functions efficiently with the minimum of fuss- as does my Bosch washing machine.

  42. It was the small things on the A2 what was its undoing,like having to remove the bonnet for maintenance,never mind the flapfor dipstick etc,and was an expensive car for structural repairs due to its aluminium manufacture of course. I did prefer it to the A class which are generally unreliable and ripe now.

    As for the Golf,its a car that always feels ‘right’ thenew one is the best yet by a mile.The focus is too bitsy inside wheras the Golf feels completely superior in texture,finsish and ambience- especially high end models like the R.

  43. So in answer to “Does anyone really do it better?” – the consensus is yes……

    The Golf is good but there is better out there……surely

  44. Never really rated the golf, the mk2 was ugly, had an interior from the 70s and were as interesting as mud, the mk3 was slightly better looking but dropped to pieces, rusted badly and handled like a boat, mk4 ugly as hell and horrifically unreliable, mk5 handsome but overpriced and not that reliable, mk6 bland and certainly a big step back styling wise, mk7 looks good but will probably be over complex and expensive to repair…

  45. I’ve always promised myself to buy a Golf since the late 70s, but havent so far. The reason usually being that they were less well specified than equivalent Astra’s, Rover’s Focus’s etc. However things have changed nowadays, except they are still pricey from “New”. But one day perhaps… one day.

  46. Currently been looking at a Golf Mk.VII GT TDI150 to replace my wife’s 283,000 mile BMW 320dSE – interestingly she has stated that she’d rather have a 1 series than a Golf (her first car was a Polo Mk.IIIf twelve years ago), and the BMW spec for spec is £500 cheaper than the Golf (BMW 118d Sport).

    Plus BMW’s customer service and our local dealer are way better than any of the four Volkswagen dealers we tried over the four years she owned her Polo.

    Don’t think we’ll be going back to VW somehow.

  47. After owning a Toyota avensis for the last five years we decided to change our car and went for a test drive in a low mileage Auris, what a disappointment! While we were at the show room the salesman ( God bless ’em ) mentioned that he had a mk 6 Golf match in stock, after driving the Auris the Golf was a revelation, feeling tight and positive, not being a rallying kind of person the performance suited me and the feel of the leather steering wheel alone was enough reason to buy the the car. My wife who is a Toyota fan fell in love with the built quality and the general feel of the Golf and ordered me to buy it. The car does have some of the issues mentioned in the above forum, low down torque, a little noisy and not the promised fuel economy etc, but still a safe comfortable car with just the right amount of gadgets, and being shiny black it looks very nice on our drive ( yes I am a VW snob ) I can’t comment on the reliably just yet but hope that it’s going to be kind to us. Incidentally the 2 vehicles that I drive at work are a Mitsy Shogun and a Disco 4, both expensive vehicles, but they also have their issues, so gripes are not confined to Golfs, though I’ve got to say, the Disco 4 is probably the best car that I’ve driven in 40 + years of driving, but sadly too unaffordable for me. the Shogun on the other hand is a tractor, a well spec’ed tractor, but stil a tractor.

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