Six of the best from Volkswagen's Golf
IF YOU'RE buying a used family hatch, it's hard to do much better than looking at a Volkswagen Golf Mk6.
You won't find any outrageous bargains but you will find a wide choice of very sturdy, extremely reliable vehicles to choose from. The Mk6 was the Golf where everything came together for Volkswagen and sales have been justifiably huge.
Volkswagen was never about to break with tradition where the Golf's styling was concerned. A clear design lineage can be traced back to the original Golf circa 1974 and breaking that in favour of some bold new styling direction would have been completely out of character for the German marque. Conservative but classy has long been the Golf mantra and the Mk6 model diligently tows that line with the wide grille first seen on the Scirocco coupe which merges with the headlamps to form a single band across the nose. At the back, the huge tail light clusters are similar in shape to the headlamps and curve round into the rear wings to visually widen the car.
It's the interior, though, where the most obvious alterations have been made. Quality soft-touch plastics are everywhere and virtually every available button or dial gets its own chrome border. The instruments that used to illuminate in blue are now bright white but the overall shape of the dash is similar to that in the Mk5 Golf. There's a big step forward in terms of refinement, however, thanks to a completely new design of door and window seals, a new damping film that supports the windscreen and a new engine mounting system.
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This Golf is available in six trim levels – S, Match, GT, GTD, GTI and R – but there are also fuel efficient BlueMotion models to consider based on the 1.6 TDI engine and versions with BlueMotion Technology (some but not all of the BlueMotion features). There are three or five-door body styles with the standard hatch, plus a more versatile Golf Plus variant and an estate model.
All Golfs boast a high level of standard specification. The S has, among a number of features, ABS and ESP (Electronic Stabilisation Programme), seven airbags including a driver's knee airbag, remote central locking, Climatic air conditioning, a CD/radio, plus body-coloured bumpers, door handles and electrically heated and adjustable door mirrors.
You'll need at least £8,150 to land one of the first Mk6 models and this will net you a 1.4 S model showing around 34,000 miles on the clock. The punchier 122bhp 1.4TSI model opens at around £10,750 and is well worth tracking down. Although the 1.2-litre engine doesn't sound at all promising, it is in fact a little cracker with bags of go and there are plenty to choose from with prices starting at £11,500 on 10 plate. If you want the iconic Golf GTI, you'll need £19,000 for the earliest cars with the DSG twin-clutch gearbox tacking around £750 to the price. The understated but devastatingly capable all-wheel drive Golf R is the performance standard bearer in the Mk6 line up and these are still fairly thin on the ground with 59-plated cars starting at £30,000 for a really good example.
The majority of Golf customers look to diesel engines and these start at £12,000 for a 90bhp 1.6 TDI S. The 109bhp 1.6-litre equivalent won't cost significantly more as many value the added efficiency of the smaller engine. £18,000 will net you one of the first of the powerful 170bhp GTD variants.
Keep a look out for cars that have been flogged by corporate users and ensure that servicing has been attended to diligently. Check the car's specification carefully, as some of the more desirable features, like air conditioning, weren't standard on lower spec cars. You'll also need to watch for sales staff aggressively pushing Mk5 cars, knowing that the Mk6s will virtually drive themselves out of their dealerships. Other than that, the Golf is a car that can be bought with confidence.
Under the bonnet, customers have a choice of five petrol and four diesel engines. Petrol units are a 1.4-litre with 80bhp or a 1.6-litre with 102bhp, plus 1.4-litre TSI powerplants with 122 or 160bhp and the 2.0-litre TSI from the GTI. The TSI units utilise a turbocharger, and in some cases a supercharger as well, to produce a smooth flow of power across a wide section of the rev-range. Want a diesel? There are a couple of 2.0-litre common rail diesels offering power outputs of 140 or 170 bhp. Further down the range, the 1.6-litre oil-burner is available with 90 or 105PS. A number of options are available on the Golf for the first time, including Volkswagen's Adaptive Chassis Control (ACC) which allows the driver to select from normal, comfort or sport modes to define the desired suspension, steering and accelerator response settings for any particular journey. ParkAssist, which takes over steering inputs to facilitate parallel parking manoeuvres, is also available as an option.
The Mk6 Golf is a real used car gem and you used stock is so large that simple statistics dictate that with a bit of patience you should be able to spot an honest car with a decent price. The smaller petrol engines are well worth pursuing, especially the 1.2TSI and 1.4 TSI engines, as these don't yet have the public recognition and can be undervalued. Whichever model you opt for, you'll end up with a quality family car that retains a capacity to entertain.