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Volkswagen Golf Review & Road Test
Volkswagen Golf Review & Road Test
Volkswagen Golf Review & Road Test
by Karl Peskett

Rewriting the small car rulebook

Model Tested:

  • 2009 Volkswagen Golf Mk VI 118TSI Comfortline; 1.4-litre, four-cylinder, petrol; seven-speed DSG; five-door hatch – $32,990*

Options Available:

  • Metallic Paint $700; Electric Glass Sunroof $1,900; Vienna Leather Upholstery $3,300; RNS510 with Dynaudio Excite $4,000; Reversing Camera $350

CarAdvice Rating:

It doesn’t matter what you say, some people will never believe you. During the week’s test of the Volkswagen Golf 118TSI, when asked for the engine size, passengers would shoot you a look like you’re lying to them. “Yeah, right,” was the general response. And you can sort of understand it. For a car that weighs over 1.3 tonnes, but will still go from 0-100km/h in eight seconds, a 1.4-litre engine doesn’t seem like it would be able to pull it off. But it most definitely does.

Jump out of a 1.4-litre Hyundai Getz, and you can see why the incredulous responses come thick and fast. The secret to the Golf’s excellent turn of speed is how the fuel is delivered to the engine. Quite quickly, as it happens. 110bhp per litre tells the tale. You see, the 1.4-litre four cylinder is twin-charged. There’s a roots-type supercharger for boosting low-end torque, and a turbocharger for carrying the power up into the high revs. The best of both worlds, really. A solenoid clutch ensures that the supercharger hands over all of its boosting work from 3,500rpm upwards, while direct injection also maximises efficiency.

Volkswagen Golf Review & Road Test
Volkswagen Golf Review & Road Test
Volkswagen Golf Review & Road Test
Volkswagen Golf Review & Road Test

While it never sounds particularly special, it’s quiet and smooth, but the 240Nm of torque really gets the Golf moving from even the lowest of revs. Despite a sluggish take-up – typical of DSGs in general – there’s always grunt on tap no matter what the revs. The spread of maximum torque from 1750-4500rpm means it’s always on the boil, and the seven speed transmission facilitates both seamless changes and fuel economy. However, if you’ve quickly pulled up to a stop (like at an intersection) and then immediately decide to give it a bootfull to get in front of oncoming traffic, allow a few more seconds for the transmission to have a think and register what it is you want to do. Apart from that little glitch, the DSG is brilliant.

In real world terms, this 118kW TSI twin-charged engine (there’s also a cheaper, 90kW version) gives you maximum grunt from minimum fuel consumption. Volkswagen’s ADR sticker figure is a staggering 6.2 litres/100km when combined with its new seven-speed DSG transmission. You’d probably think its a good thing that its fuel use is so low, because the tank is a smallish 55 litres. But based on the ADR figures, that means around 880km from your tank – a very respectable figure indeed.

If you do plan of travelling for the full 880kms, you’ll thank Volkswagen’s interior designers for their forethought. There’s acres of space from this small car. The boot, for example, may not seem tremendously huge at 350 litres, but it’s shaped to be usable, and with the back seats down, it grows to a massive 1,305 litres. The rear seats (a bugbear of many a small car) will happily hold three adults, though they can be a little flat. The front seats are likewise expansive, but are supportive throughout your back, and benefit from brilliant bolstering that blends body-hugging qualities and comfortable movement in a way that puts some luxury cars to shame.

Volkswagen Golf Review & Road Test
Volkswagen Golf Review & Road Test
Volkswagen Golf Review & Road Test
Volkswagen Golf Review & Road Test

In a nod to its Audi offshoot, Volkswagen has used chrome accents to border the vents and dials, also borrowing the screen in between the tacho and speedo. The fabulous touchscreen RNS510 HDD based satnav is available, along with one of the clearest and widest angle reversing cameras available. The dash is of top shelf quality, being tactile and soft. A climate control module taken from the Volkswagen Passat CC and a new steering wheel with more intuitive buttons completes the revised interior.

Outside, apart from the roof, it’s all new. The Touareg-esque rear lights dominate the tail, along with the Golf-trademark thick C-pillar. A more squat stance by virtue of a wide mouthed front bumper, subtly flared wheel arches and slightly angled headlights with a wider, flatter grille separate it from the Mk V Golf, and modernise the exterior. Those quirky, but nice touches remain; the VW logo that doubles as the hatch door handle, for example, but now it integrates the reversing camera (if optioned along with the RNS510). The mirrors have also been redesigned, and according to Volkswagen, due to their more slippery shape, even become less dirty. Time will tell on that one.

In essence, the Mk VI is more of an evolution than all new model – a bit like the Land Rover Discovery 3 becoming the Discovery 4 – thus the underpinnings are the same as previous (save altered spring rates) but the exterior and interior have been revised. But just as the Mk V was a great drive, those same involving characteristics carry through to the Mk VI.

Volkswagen Golf Review & Road Test

There’s the ride which manages to remain supple, despite the extra stiffness, yet keeps its class-leading handling. Sure, the steering doesn’t exude lashings of true feel, but there’s a weighty meatiness that still keeps you satisfied. There’s a beautifully linear feel to the rack, and nothing but the harshest of mid-corner bumps seems to fluster the suspension. The thing is, this is no GTI in the handling stakes, but for a daily commuter, it’s very, very good.

But there’s more to the story than just the drive. The Golf is also an extremely safe car. Don’t forget, this is still in the small car category, and with seven airbags, including a knee bag, occupants are well protected. There are also new sensors which detect the intensity of a crash and set off the airbags appropriately, by calculating where low frequency vibrations and audible components have come from. In Germany, this system received the Bavarian Innovation Prize. A new head-restraint system called WOKS, which has been patented due to its effectiveness, reduces whiplash severity, and stability control is standard also. ANCAP awarded the Mk VI Golf its maximum five stars.

It gets a bit boring, actually, this “Golf is excellent” business. But you can’t get away from the fact that it is just that – excellent. It’s punchy, got heaps of space, drives like a dream, is as safe as you can get, sips like a bird, looks terrific and feels expensive. Sure, it’s at the higher end of the small-car dollar-spectrum, but that age-old adage of getting what you pay for has never applied so aptly.

It’s a big call, but what you’re looking at here is the new small car yardstick. It’s as simple as that.


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  • Toyota Guru

    Just one option that the non-GTI Golfs miss out on which VW need to address, optional bi-xenons.

  • Frederick

    I am a 118tsi owner, and I agree with all comments made here – comfy driving, frugal (I am getting between 5.8-6L/100klm for a mix of city/hway), punchy engine – great for overtaking no matter what speed you are doing – torque is always there.

    Only issue I have, and it is a biggy: The supercharger makes a very loud “cheeping noise” or “chirping noise” when the magnetic clutch engages and disengages the supercharger. I am not talking about the cool whirring noise the supercahrger makes, this is a distinct one off “chirp” at each engage and disengage……..it is very loud and quite embarressing when taking off from traffic lights etc. VW are very aware of this worldwide issue and call it a “charactoristic of the car”, and apparently the issue will spring up in all 118tsi. VW have no known fix for this issue. The VW tech Bull says the noise comes from a “build up of solenoids in the water pump” (which apparently runs off the same pulley system as the supercharger). Some owners of the Gen V Golf GT TSI have had the same complaint.

    My chirp started at 2500klm, and has been annoying me for the last 10,000klms. Quite an annoying attribute which unfortunately is leading me to trade in the car. Check out the previous reviews on this same site for a listen to all the unhappy owners who bought a quiet car, which is now noisely chirping! Not good VW, considering this issue hase been around in the Gen V GT TSI engines!

    • fasthonda

      That’s a shame.I wonder if it may eventuate into a more significant problem later?
      Wait until people start buying the GTI MKVI,that car has already had a number of problems overseas.The MKVI GTI forums have the Yanks complaining about DSG issues to rattles etc.Now that the GTIs are built in Germany there shouldn’t be ANY excuse!.Other common problems include :

      Brake light moisture
      Rear washer nozzle leaks
      Water droplets forming inside windscreen in cold weather
      Rattle from wastegate
      Electrical/audio problems
      Faulty Tyre pressure monitor
      Air coming in from driver’s side door.
      Grinding noise at low rpms,both manual and DSG.

      I’ve only included several problems.The list could’ve been significantly longer!

      Every car can have problems that can range from minor to the more serious.Doesn’t matter where it’s made.The Skodas are not made in Germany and yet seem to have a superior quality/reliability record than VW Golfs etc.

    • Golfschwein

      Have you previously posted under another name, Frederick? It’s the spelling of ‘charactoristic’ that gives it away. There can’t be two Golf owners who spell it with an ‘o’.

      • James

        Fasthonda, I agree with you that some VW products have reliability problem. I have been working in the middle east since 2001 and had a company VW polo, 1.4 automatic, brand new when handed over to me. One day after locking the driver door from the outside, I could not pull the key out. Called the rental cpmany and got a replacement polo. 2 months later AC failed to work. Talking to a European colleague worker who owned a 2000 VW polo, he too had AC problem and also another colleague who owned a 1.6 liter VW golf. My point is: VW did and still does have reliability issues and charge “premium” for their cars. I would not buy their product in the future.

        • Safety First

          Okay Devils advocate here :-)
          Firstly you say you were handed a Polo (01 model) and you are in the middle east and the Key got stuck in the door… Did it occur to you that the rental company simply took it back and airblasted the dirt out of the key hole?? Problem fixed.

          Secondly, I see a lot of 2000 & 2001 vehicles of ALL brands where thier Aircond fails. Particularly if they are doing a lot of driving on poorer surfaced roads (like those in the middle east) or in areas where the system doesn’t get turned on for long periods (European winters eg).

          I feel for you if you believe that this is cause NOT to buy a vehicle because you will be spending a lot of time either on foot or in public transport. I am yet to see a brand where a percentage of their wares don’t have some problems.

      • http://Fiat Boney Maroney

        GS….that has been the most hollow victory ever hey? Having my comments moderated because I am saying something against your brand. Here are the facts. Frederick, myself and Pam work in the same office of an ASX100 company. Infact, Frederick works in the cubicle next to mine. Within 3 months of each other we all packaged 118tsi as a tool of trade work vehicle. As of writing we all have the squeaking / squealing supercharger, and are equally unhappy with VWs response to our complaints.
        I have commented about this on caradvice, so has Frederick. Pam is my direct manager and is not that phased by cars so she is quite over the issue and is lackadaisical about cars in general. I feel that we each have the right to have a say about this fault in the car’s engineering. The fact that I misspelled the same word as Frederick has no bearing on our complaint…..this is a big issue with the car. Sorry to ruin your conspiracy theory. Glad your experience with the Gen V is working out…..you are one of the lucky ones it seems.
        I have asked caradvice to reinstate my comments

        • Golfschwein

          Boney, I wasn’t in search of any hollow victory, nor moderation of your comments. Your explanation of Frederick is entirely plausible and simply highlights that two people in the same office driving the same type of car both spell ‘characteristic’ with an ‘o’. So why wouldn’t I have smelled a rat at the time?

          Anyway, I’ve followed the saga of your squealing supercharger for a few months now (without ever commenting) and feel your dismay. I also agree that forums like this bring issues into the public for the better and I have no interest in stifling comment just because it’s ‘my brand’, which is actually not the case. The Golf is simply the favourite of all the cars I’ve owned, and it causes me a little infectious enthusiasm, but if my local dealer and VW Australia hadn’t dealt with my recently failed turbocharger with the extreme and unexpected grace that they did (out of warranty), then I’d be looking at the prices and colour charts on a Mazda 3 or SV6 Sportwagon right now.

          Before the VW bashers raise their arms with glee and shriek, ‘I told you so’, I put the recent failure into perspective: I once ran a brand new Camry as a company car and its head gasket and 3rd gear synchros were both lunched by 45,000 kms. Other Camrys in the fleet did the same thing.

          All cars have issues at some point. I get peeved, I admit, by people droning on about reliability of this, that or the other when they have no actual experience. My own experience has taught me that no cow is sacred.

          • Brad

            Quite right, all cars will have an issue at some point. But some will have less issues than others.

          • Simon

            It’s the DSG lag that annoys me.
            DSG is great in theory but as mentioned in the article, it’s often indecisive and this can really be unnerving when you need to move in busy traffic. It essentially makes the vehicle slow off the mark because the computer needs to protect the automatic clutch from hard launches.

          • Boney Maroney

            Excellent news you have had good service at no cost out of warranty, that certainly doesn’t happen often with any manufacturer. I cant get good service or feedback inside warranty…..especially from VW Australia Customer Service, so it is frustrating.

            I am not worried so much about the noise, although I do find it extremely loud and annoying, but what the noise is coming from – it is a noise of friction (engagement) so it is definitely a wearing noise. My VW dealers response was, “don’t worry, you have 3 years warranty!!!” We were considering keeping this car for my wife, and for my next tool of trade car getting something bigger to replace out KLUGER. My big worry is having a vehicle like this out of warranty……imagine the costs of buying and fitting new parts for a genuine VW magnetic clutch and al other assorted bits that would show associated wear as well!

            Frederick and I are looking around for different cars now, as we have the option to trade out this year….and we are looking at similar ones that you mentioned…..and also after the long term review updates on this site, I will even take a better look at the PRIUS ITECH. Pam, (who I am pretty sure doesnt read caradvice) will probably stick with hers for the warranty period. Tis such a shame, everything else about the car is a cracker. As I have mentioned in the other threads, if VW ever got the annoying noise sorted, this would be the perfect small car

            On a final note, the fact that Frederick and I work in the same office of a very large Australian company and have chosen to have the same car, and have an interest in cars should not be a surprise. There are also 2 employees that run same model 147 Alfas in my office and a couple with 2009 WRXs and two PUG 207GTis too. As a further point of interest………a quick google reveals that the American Physiological Association says that Characteristic, spelled “charactoristic” is a very common misspelling 😉 Frederick has tried to point this out to you but has had his posts moderated as well. Alborz said he will fix this next week for us. PEACE.

    • Valet Dabess

      i probably wouldn’t even notice that cause i usually have my music on. but if i could afford it, it makes me not wanna buy it

  • Neo Utopia

    With a 100% absolutely unbiased and objective view I am of the opinion that this machine really is the neo utopia of cars in general, not just “small” cars. Good for any person or class, so long as people stick to the authordox roads and have reasonably sized families. Price fades out of the affordability argument when comparing to what features an eastern budget “rival” has compared to the opposite spectrum of what the most premium rival has. One only qarm I have would be that it still could be a little bit more affordable for the Australian Market.

  • http://www.caradvice.com.au OSU811

    I hear a lot of reports and opinions from VW owners that they seem to have a lot of bad quality issues with there cars!!

    • Golfschwein

      And just as many who don’t? Like me?

      • Robin Graves

        I think the Golf is a great car, especially the diesels. If there is quality problems, people in this day and age have the internet to share their stories, which in turn puts a foot up manufacturer’s rears to fix them and quickly. Just because your car hasnt had any problems, and I guessing there are many, many more like you, doesnt mean that people who are having problems dont have the right to post about it! Get over it no car is perfect!

        • Golfschwein

          There was really nothing to get over, Robin. Apart from that, I agree with you 100%!

  • davie

    These cars are getting almost uniform great reviews.

    My only real concern (other than price and indicator stalk on left side) is a question on how long these twin charged engines will last?

    The power and torque figures suggest that there is a lot of boost running through this little engine.

    • Robin Graves

      The increased loads imposed on the bottom end – crankshafts, conrods, bearings is not as much as you would think, as the effect is stretched out over more than 90 degrees of crank rotation. The increase in pressure is mainly after top dead centre which is why the torque increases a fair bit. This is not true for thermal loads on valves, the clutch for the supercharger etc. If the engine tune is done right, its all the accessories that come with it that are the worry, not the engine itself. That also leaves the driveline and engine mounts which cops more load.

  • Random

    Working in a car yard which frequently sells these makes me never want to buy one. At the moment we have one we’ve spent about $7k on attempting to fix – Volkswagen can’t even work out what’s wrong with it! And now there’s another with a slight gearbox(not dsg) issue. This is just a few of the many we’ve had with issues.

    • cruickster

      I have to agree with issues of quality. I have read car advice for quite a while but feel compelled to write about VW. My ex had an old Mark IV golf, solid car, appeared to be well put together. At the first service she complained about the paint coming off and it had to be resprayed in certain parts of the body, each subsequent service she complained about a noise in the manual gearbox. Just out of warranty the gearbox imploded, $9k later we weren’t happy. Three of her windows have dropped out, ie have fallen into the door. When purchasing a new mechanism circa $250 the parts guy explained that the nomenclature on the part number which ended in a J, indicated it was in its 10th iteration, and obviously still was not fixed. You had to buy the glass and plastic part and mechanism not just the 10c plastic piece that broke. Lots of problems with the car but it did feel nice to drive. I have also had problems with Subarus but have a RAV4 now for 4 years and no problems at all. No where near as exiting as VW or Subaru’s or BMW’s but reliablity is streets ahead. Just my 2c worth, for every bad story there is a good one as well.


      Dont blame the car mate, it’s the monkeys employed to work on them that are the problem.

  • Boney Maroney

    Comment moderated – please do not pose as two different people.

  • Damian

    I was actually considering one of these for my wife… until I read the comments above.

    The main reason I was considering one of these was the novelty of the twin-charge concept. I knew that ownership of a twin-charge Golf would be more onerous than any other conventional hatch, but didn’t expect problems to arise so soon.

    I guess the abovementioned comments will be grounds to spend a little more on a GTI, which should be more reliable with the proven 2.0T engine.

    • Callous Aussie

      Go test drive the diesels. You’ll be pleasantly surprised I think. They have ample performance and exceptional economy.

      • Brad

        I’ve also been shopping about (still in the research stage) for a new small car. Read countless reviews going on about how good a drive they but these glowing reviews are tarnished by the ongoing reports from customers complaining about leaks, noises etc. You’d expect for the money being spent that you’d not have such problems.

        This is probably what Damian is hoping to avoid. No point having a car (especially a new one) that drives nicely but is in and out of repairs all the time. Then when it’s out of warranty you get hit with the repairs instead.

        Guess review cars don’t have these faults since VW check to see that they’re faultless before going out. Not surprising though since it happens with review models in other industries (computer components from particularly since I’ve had experience with this).

        • Will

          Brad, if you are worried about the the quality of the current bread of Golf, then go Skoda. They are very well bolted together and come in a wagon variant.

  • Andrew Juma

    I have to agree with some of the comments here regarding the longevity of the TSI engines. One form of boosting is bad enough, what about two?

    • Will

      I’m sure Andrew that the engine having being developed by Volkswagen, will outlast any power plant that has been attached to any Australian badged machinery provided properly serviced.

  • Ash 90TSI

    As a 90TSI owner, I can tell u quality certainly ain’t up there with the Japs. The DSG has stalled several times especially at intersections resulting in very scary situations indeed! And despite a few trips to VW, several software patches and a direct link to Germany to find out about it there is still no fix.
    Real world fuel usage is nowhere near the ADR figures – closer to 10L/100km.
    The right (driver) rear view mirror is a carry over from LHD models and is too convex and wide angled to judge any distances and be of any use – so much for homologation for Australia. Its basically useless and quite dangerous actually.
    Yes, the engine, feel and space is great but I won’t be going back to VW ever – back to good old Subaru for me next time.
    Unfortunately, these aforementioned faults can only be picked after the purchase – so be warned.

    • Will

      Ash, had three Subarus, won’t be going back to that brand.

      Having lived with the DSG for nearly two years, I am wondering what is going wrong with your driving style. Sure, there is a little adjustment to cater for the DSG on hill starts, but it is a lot easier than say going from a slush box to a conventional manual.

      The DSG is a superb piece of engineering and in my case allows my diesel to dance. Subaru have not done anything significant since 2000.

  • radman

    I have test driven these 1.4L Golfs. Agree that interior quality seems to be good, and generally, the right size car to go from A to B.

    Whilst powerful, I felt that the power delivery is not linear smooth. The turbo kick in effect makes me want to go back to a naturally aspirated engine.

    Generally good cars, just don’t know if it last as long as it looks.

  • Mark

    No doubt the Golf is one of the best drives in the hatch category. The Golfs gets mostly good reviews because the reviewers don’t have to own it for an extended period of time, which is when the faults start to show.

  • Stevo the Devo

    $4k for a satnav – you got to be joking. For something that will be obselete in a few years thats a bit steep. Better to just buy a TomTom or Navman & replace it in a few years when the new models are better and cheaper. It’s not just VW but many other car companies as well. They think we are idiots.

    • Devil’s Advocate

      Good call Stevo.

  • Neo Utopia

    If Volkswagen, and many other European brands for that matter, didn’t design and engineer most of the innovative technologies on a car like the Golf then we would still be driving around in less comfortable, less safe, less efficient and hard-to-drive cars than what we are driving nowdays, simple as that. But for us to get from A to B with the least amount of problems then we have that far eastern brands to eventually improve upon these technologies, simple as that. So if you want to drive an innovative car, you just have to put up with the teething issues untill they get ironed out. And there are many people will put innovation and good design (not anything to so with reliability) before choosing an car on just reliability.

    • o

      i agree with this by the time these technologies get to the lower brands like skoda they are all ironed out.

  • AAA

    Turbo charger
    Super charger
    Over stressed small engine

    Three more things to go wrong.

    The end user got to live with 3 more things to go wrong, reliability and durability after the 1/2 hour review is over.

    • Blue

      Isn’t this the World Car of the Year?

      Mate, diesel is the way to go for the next couple of years… forget about twincharge technology. diesel is just plain simple and proven. couple of grand more for peace of mine. just look at SUV now running on diesel.

      in the next decade, maybe electric might take over… until that day… go diesel.

  • Nick K

    I have had 2 Golfs and both had quality and reliability problems that you simply don’t see on a Toyota or most other Japanese brands. VAG in general (VW & Audi mainly) do not have a good reputation for quality and reliability, have a look at recent JD Power survey. Agreed, the current Golfs have innovative engineering that make equivalent Toyotas look very backward indeed, however the clincher for me is Toyota’s top shelf reliability, especially if you choose to own your cars for more than 3 or 4 years. When Toyota introduce fuel saving automatics and turboed small capacity petrol engines, I would feel comfortable about long term ownership with a Toyota.

    • Will

      Nick, Toyotas have been scientifically shown to enhance brain tumors they are so boring. Get your head checked.

      • Brad

        Some people just want a car to get places when and how they want rather than something to have fun in?

        Might just be that some people get their fun from doing other things? I know, what a shocking thought!

      • Nick K

        Ha Ha Ha… I know, Toyotas are as boring as hell, yes whitegoods on wheels, that is why I went VW in the first place. Now, I’m over a product with Character, I only see the constant niggles and cost of repairs. I guess each to their own. If I was leasing and turning over my cars every 3 to 4 years I’d even go an Alfa, but I do need to hold onto my cars longer than that. VW have lost me as customer, if only their innovative engineering also was reliable… then Toyota would be in trouble. I best buy some walk shorts and long socks to go with my Camry.. oh, can you still get them in beige?

    • Golfschwein

      I once owned an unpedigreed pet that lived long, never needed a trip to the vet and gave nothing. It was absolutely devoid of character and affection.

      My second Camry was just the same. I hated it. The first was at least capable of responding to a fang, despite its head gasket and synchro calamities.

      • Safety First

        Ahh The Pet Rock…. I remember them well…… (lol)

        • Golfschwein

          It was a sullen ginger cat, actually. Yes, I know, serves me right!

  • Dennis

    Are people having more issues with the South African or German built Golf’s?

    A friend of mine decided to buy a GTI and i talked him into getting a Pirelli edition as it was built in Germany. Hope he has no major issues.

    • haddakombi

      I too was told that the German built Golf’s are better in quality, until I read feedback sharing much the same issues, so probably no better on reliability, although the Pirelli model is a hot machine 😉 Unless VW build with ‘Made in Japan’ stickers on it, I think it doesn’t matter if German or South African factories assemble these things; issues will arise just like they do with Audi, Merc and BMW. Oh and VW ;).

      • Will

        The Mk 6 Golf is a reliable and refined package. Should you have some doubt buy a Skoda instead. They have a reputation for being a very well bolted together alternative, with wagon variant if desired.

  • haddakombi

    Thanks for the review, and thanks too for the comments! I had my heart on a MKVI GTI, then when the price with options was determinted, down-graded my dream to a 118TSI…still expensive with options. Sure, every review gives it five stars, but the real world comments are interesting. I’m sure there are happy owners around who don’t post comments anywhere, but it’s enough for me to read about how unhappy MKVI owners are to NOT buy one. And the price. I agree with remarks above about how Toyota seems reliable (they too have their own recalls etc but not as often), yes they are bland and not very innovative with their techonology and engines and transmissions, but maybe that’s why they have the name they do…less stuff to go wrong; stick to what you know and so on. It’s one thing to pay for advancements and feel good about your money spent, but good to pay for reliability knowing you’ll have safe and happy motoring. We’re placing our order for a new Liberty Sports Premium instead, get passed the looks (which grow on you) and it’s a fine car with [same as Toyota] carryover mechanical plus new improved features. But this articles about VW. Thanks for reading, and again, thanks for the shared feedback…you lost my sale VW.

  • Nick K

    It does not matter of a VW is assembled in Germany or in South Africa, quality and reliability are the same. The German cars are a little better finished. Out of the two Golfs we had the first one was built in Germany and was by far the worst of the two, the South African built Golf was actually better!

    I will not be buying another VW or German or European car for that matter, German cars have the same reliability as a Holden or a Ford and the other Europeans are worse… at least Holdens and Fords are cheaper to fix. When we purchased the Golfs we saw that the cars felt solid, seemed have superior materials quality… but I’m afraid this is only skin deep, just because the doors close with a solid thunk does not a good car make. After believing the fallacy that European cars are better, I’ll be sticking to Toyotas or other Japanese brands in the future… I’d be happy to trade off technology and presentation pizazz for a boring but far more reliable Japanese car.

    • Robin Graves

      Make sure its a true Japanese car – ie made in Japan. A lot of Japanese brands make their cars all over the world, and I’ve seen some lemons from these overseas factories, one especially bad was a D40 Navara from Spain (company vehicle). What a POS.

      • Callous Aussie

        +1. Same as mine. Nothing but trouble.

  • Tony

    i wouldn’t touch automatics or dsgs on anything

    you 90tsi owners… is it that much slower?

    also i’d more like to go with a plain turbocharged four… let’s not try to oversauce the pudding with so many doodads

    • Will

      Gee, the hand of experience speaks. The DSG is a superb piece of engineering. Mine has done 33k. It makes my little diesel dance.
      Tony, your unexplained fear of DSG’s, let alone no personal experience racks of bigotry. Get a grip.

  • i`m not from here

    Vw is unreliable, european this , soccer that , i only love to drive sushi errr Corola, blah blah blah blah. Honestly i thought this was CAR enthusiastic`s website. Get your priorities right ,really. Observe – Technical innovation and sport car milestones in the past 10 years:

    I ,unlike most people on this blog, am going to buy vw as i was for the past 10 years because they manage to tickle my technical-geek/grease-monkey bone unlike any other car maker in the world(mercedes and lancia too actually).

    PS:The only thing that ever went wrong on my cars(2 passats , 1 caddy tdi , 1 t5 transporter) was always the electronics and they usually have sticker saying Made in china,japan,korea…….SABOTAGE?!

    • QwkEddie

      You give VW too much credit.
      The other car companies and technologies were not created by VW.Porsche invented the DSG.The TSI was actually first used by Lancia.Audi was in existence well before VW .Audi gives tremendous assistance to VW in regards to their Golf.VW would be lost without the help of Audi.The Lamborghini company was producing sport cars well before VW took over the company.
      VW has been taking over companies and using THEIR technology.Maybe the only claim to fame has been the air cooled engines?Other than that,VW has been a leech, feeding on other’s technology.

      • Shak

        Not a leech, a very smart company who can analyse the market and decide what it should do with its money.VW didnt just crap out cash, they were doing something right to make all the money they have in the first place. I dont think porsche invented the DSG, ithink that honour rests with VW. As for all the other things you are right, but VW has been smart enough to implement the best technologies it has at its disposal into cars people want, and for that they are a fitting ruler for the number one spot when Toyota cocks up again.

        • Callous Aussie

          Porsche did indeed develop the DSG. I have spoken to a couple of Golf owners. both were diesels and they love them. Both were clients and they both had the same complaint. The cost of the engine oil which is $22.00 a litre.

          Oh and one had a rattle in the Dash that VW were working to rectify.

          Other than that they both love the car. So I guess some people have good ones and some bad. Just like my POS Navara. Others have never had a problem that I have spoken to. Another thing to consider is that this one is a brand new model. Series one often carry the bugs that series two corrects. So this new one might be fine.

      • OIL BURNER

        Yeah right Eddie.
        Thats why VW’s 3.0 V6 Tdi is now conveniently used in AUdi A4, A5, A6,Q5,Q7 and Porsche Cayenne…….untweaked I might add.

  • Harley Stone

    I like the photo of the interior. The driver’s seat has been placed in it’s utmost forward position to make people believe there would be legroom behind it when a normally grown adult sits on it….that’s absolutely ridiculous, alike the whole car.

    Anyway – why the hell do you carADVICE guyz force us to read just another boring
    “review” of the world’s most boring compact car ?

    • Golfschwein

      Hello, 6’1-3/4″ Golfschwein here. They really are that roomy.

      • Shak

        LIke he said only if the front seats are that far forward. But harley, CA is not forcing you to read their articles. if you dont like them leave the site to those who do.

        • Golfschwein

          My own test of a car’s roominess is that I can sit behind myself, if you get my drift. I can in the Golf, just as I could in my previous Astra. What’s more, I have an abundance of head room front and rear even with the optional sunroof fitted, so the photograph above looks more or less right to me.

          • Callous Aussie

            Every single manufacturer slides the front seats fwd to take a shot of the back. Have you just arrived on earth?

          • Golfschwein

            No, I haven’t. Have you? Because maybe you can’t read. I’ll cut and paste the words so they can perhaps sink in…

            ‘My own test of a car’s roominess is that I can sit behind myself, if you get my drift. I can in the Golf, just as I could in my previous Astra. What’s more, I have an abundance of head room front and rear even with the optional sunroof fitted, so the photograph above looks more or less right to me.’

            The photograph looks more or less right to me, is what I wrote. I stand by that. I’m not saying the seat wasn’t moved forward, I was saying it looks more or less right to me. Comprehendez now?

    • http://internode.on.net Pete

      Geez, Harley, try looking at the car before you shoot off at the mouth. I have stated before that I am 195cm and around 120kg and have 2 teenage kids (both around the 180cm mark) and my wife (178cm) and we fitted into the Golf VI we test drove the other day. I’m not saying it wasn’t cramped but we did fit in comfortably. I even had to move the driver’s seat forward and up to get the best driving position.
      So, no, this does not compare to a large sedan but has a very useful amount of space inside.
      As for the reliability issue, as someone said above, all cars have reliability issues at some stage (like several of the Subaru Forresters we had – and don’t get me started on the Camrys!)

  • Cupid Stunt

    I’ve driven the new Golf in a lowly 76Kw? diesel form apart from wanting a bit more oomph it is a fantastic car, quiet, roomy, well built etc etc. I rated it better than the Passat Highline I drove with the same engine. In comparison that was really noisy. I’d buy one now problems in diesel format of course.
    I’m sure VW like all have their reliability problems and probably suffer a few recalls to, just like Toyota!

  • Raser

    To expensive

    To complicated

    • Ian

      Thanks for the review and moreso all the comments!
      I was seriously considering a Golf this month but given the comments about transmission noises etc and VW’s attitude to customer problems it seems a bit concerning.

      Currently have a 6 cyl Camry which although may be claimed to be bland! has been a good car for 10 years and no problems at all. Will have to go and try both Golf and Mazda 3.
      From what I have read the impression seems to be that the Golf is outstanding but MAY have technical issues, The Mazda 3 is very good but suffers from road noise and not as refined?

      • Shak

        GO in between and try the cruze and the Civic, you wont regret driving more competitors. I tried the Mazda Ford and the Golf. While the golf was by far the best, i tried the Holden last, and it surprised me how good it actually was. It is cheap to buy run and has beautiful quality interior materials, and equipment, much of which i found the golf doesnt have even as options. I highly reccommend either the Focus r Cruze over this as they are rock solid.

  • peter

    its a shame with all their engineering excellence, they couldn’t engineer it to run on 91 ron petrol

    • Callous Aussie

      Go the diesel.. Fixed.

      • Golfschwein

        Yep, diesel it is.

        • peter

          is it no wonder there is much confusion in this world. if i want a petrol engine, i want a petrol engine, not a diesel, not lgp, not hybrid, not an 85ethanol blend, just a car that can run on 91ron petrol, is that too much to ask. what bit of 91 ron petrol don’t you understand. das auto!

  • Matthew

    Before too many generalisations destroy the reliability image of ALL German cars, I’d like to point out that over the past 10 years I have owned three W168 Mercedes-Benz A Class (previous model). I still have my third and have driven over 300,000km in them. They are the clutchless manual. Last two were long wheel base (more leg room than Falcon or Commodore).

    These cars are exceptionally reliable, nothing has fallen off, service costs as reasonable as my Toyota van. Residual value better than majority of other cars. Safety is second to none.

    I’d recommend considering an A or B Class Mercedes-Benz if you are serious about reliability and safety. They are extremely comfortable and easy to live with.

    Note that 90% of all automotive safety patents in the world are held by Mercedes-Benz. No, I do not work for them, just a very satisfied owner over 10 years.

  • adam (aka mada)

    ALL makes and models suffer quality niggles, unfortunately VW, like Toyota has the perception they are perfect, when clearly they are not and in most cases suffer issues as often as the so called lower quality mainstream brands.

    My biggest and only concern with the golf is initial purchase price and the ongoing servicing and insurance costs, which are still way too expensive imo.

    • Brad

      Odd. In the “Australia’s Best Cars” 2009 awards they scored the Golf running/repair costs quite well (7/10). In comparison the Mazda3/Impreza R scored 1 and the Corolla scored 4.

      As for overall reliability, I think there’s more to it that just perception. While researching about for a new car I found more than a few reports produced by insurance companies ranking Honda/Mazda/Toyota and other Asian makes far higher than European cars. Can’t think of any reason they’d want to bias the results.

  • Russell

    We are currently on our second Golf.Its a 118TSI and to date is very reliable but still only 12,000km. We traded a Mk 5 2.0 litre with about 45,000km. Both autos. We do a fair amount of highway travelling with the new one averaging about 6.2 l/100km and the old one about 7.0 l/100km. The mk 6 is much better screwed together than the South African version. The dash rattles we getting to be a pain with little help from the dealer. VW pricing on options is ridiculous and servicing is not much better. Servicing is about twice the price of currently owned Toyotas and Fords. We test drove a Corolla when trading the Mk 5 and couldnt believe why these cars are so popular apart from being reliable. This unit seemed about 10 years behind what is expected these days. Reservations aside I dont think there is a small car that can come close to the Golf in open road cruising, road holding, power,interior room and fuel consumption at anything like the Golf price.

  • t39

    I have a similar experience with VW Tiguan 103TDi manual. While it is Fantastic functionality-wise (handling, performance, interior), since new it has growl screeching noises from the clutch when taking off fast.

    VW response: just a comfort issue, no fix needed. While this is an amazing car and I like it a lot, I will certainly not risk keeping it and will sell it when it comes to 2 years old, and will look at either Skoda Yeti or a BMW X1.

  • jeff

    i am looking to buy a car, such like mazda 3 and golf. i am in love with golf however the noise problem put me off. i have spoken with vw sales guy recently regards this noise problem. he told me the noise came from the water pump and they will adjust the problem.

  • Ted

    Having today retuirned from test driving 118 TSI in Sydney, I am not sure whether I will buy the car now. Althought, it does feel solid the demo/s I drove identified the noises from inside the car as previously mentioned (many times) and the lag felt (drove the DSG and manual) did not make me feel safe. I am considering a mazda 3, but the styling is to be questioned.

    It is interesting that the VW dealer was very keen to sell me a golf and offered $3500 – 4000 discount off on-road price. Even with this, I am not sure whether i will last years without costs being experienced with repairs – jap cars may be the lasting choice. VW is a good car, but if youy keep it for many years, I think there may be issues.

    • Skodaman

      Open you mind a little and go and drive the 118kw Skoda Octavia. It is a less complexed 1.8ltr TSi (singlie turbo) it has a slightly quicker 0-100km, same fuel effeciency per 100km and the same carbon emissions. Bigger car with more standard features. No reported issues with the engine and torque is in real world driving more linear as you are not reliant on 2 individual componenets that need precision to deliver the ideal drove or else they are lackluster.

      Skoda have topped the JD powers customer satisfaction surveys in the UK and finished second last year to lexus. Incidents of break downs, niggly issues like rattles or any other day to day running gear like engine and gearbox have been conistantly better then VW and Audi for the last 5 years running.

      Build quality and interior quality will be much better than its VW couterpart in the Jetta and you get the hatch but a boot bigger than the Jetta 560ltrs Vs 527ltrs.

      Best kept secret in OZ

    • Matt

      If you go for a Mazda3, plan a few hundred dollars for a replacement engine mount every 40,000km. This doesn’t appear on the Mazda service schedule, it doesn’t warrent a recall, and Mazda only fix it under warranty if you fight like the blazes. Its an international issue, so a quick google will turn up disgruntled Mazda3 owners from all over the world.


    I have never driven a 1400cc petrol car that is so responsive. Truly amazing

  • Ted

    The issue is will the 1.4 last like the Mazda will and I could not find any info on engine mounts – pse advise the site.

  • Get Real

    So – if the Golf/VW product is so terrific why does it have such a shit warranty – three years – give me a break!!!! At least Mitsubishi have the balls to put 10 years on their drivetrains. It’s time the European manufacturers got real – not just selling spin at high prices!!! I have had 4 lancers – ALL problems fixed in the warranty period – not that there were any serious ones anyway. The Jap stuff is far more reliable. Pity – I like the drive of the latest Golf – but the warranty – get real.

  • http://www.caradvice.com.au EuroCarFan

    We recently purchased a fully optioned 118TSI Golf VI with DSG for my partner. It is an absolute joy to drive and feels as luxurious as my (E46) BMW 320i. Unfortunately, the motor completely failed after only 8000 kms of routine, careful driving. We were told that one of the valves had suddenly lost compression, leaving my partner stranded on the side of a busy road. VW service was quick and courteous – they brought in a new motor from Germany and even put us in a brand new Audi A3 while the repairs took place. Whilst we are happy to have our car back, and must add that we MUCH prefer the drive and interior provided by our Golf compared to its (significantly) more expensive “cousin,” to say that we have been left somewhat scarred is an understatement. Whilst one could argue that we were simply unlucky, our experience does not bode well in light of the JD POWER figures and some of the user comments above (Golfschwein’s notwithstanding). Funnily enough, the VW dealers made a big song and dance about the the car being made in Germany now (compared to the South African built Mark V) and made a point of telling us how VW had enlisted the auditing services of JD POWER to improve overall reliability. It was a sales pitch that, when combined with a test drive, had us hooked. Alas, we had originally intended to keep the Golf on a five year lease, but I think two years out of warranty with such a vehicle will give me sleepless nights I could do without. It’s a real shame, because the car is utterly superb in just about every single category one could think of… Methinks I will buy a Lexus next time…

  • http://www.bodmassage.com.au bluemountains

    Well I have a new 90tsi manual wag (wife’s car),last 3 new cars Honda crv 2000 to 2005 then another crv 2005 to 2010 also a new focus 1.8.I have spent 25 tears in the motor industry with Toyota/ Honda/Ford have always regarded Honda as being the best built car of that bunch.
    My new Golf, made in Mexico has a far better paint quality than the Honda, early days but the trim looks and feel superior. Now I’m aware that one can’t compare a soft SUV and a sedan but the drive ability of Golf is fantastic,better than pretty well any other car I have driven and and as a sales manager I have driven thousands.
    Every manufacture has some problems with their vehicles but normally attended to and fixed quickly.
    I suppose if I was picky then the lack of technical knowledge from VW Aust such as fuel types you can use, is high premium ethanol ok etc.Dealer land for knowledge is somewhat limited.

  • http://www.julesmoviereviews.blogspot.com Jules

    I thought I would share my experience with these golfs. I have owned a Mk4 V5, MK5 GT (125kw TSI) and now a MK6 118Kw (TSI).

    The V5 was well built and performed well although was thirsty. When we bought the Mk5 the twin turbo was a very new concept. The idea of a car with similar performance as my previous 2.3L car in a 1.4L seemed incredible.

    We kept the car for three years and averaged @ 7.2L per 100km as opposed to @ 10L in the V5. We never experienced any issues. The performance was comparable to V5 and in DSG form was easy to drive. The finish in the Mk5 was not as good as the Mk4, lot of rattling in the centre console, which I believe was a design flaw.

    We now have the Mk6 118KW TSI and so far this has proven more refined and certainly better put together. Interior is better and quieter. I am swapping out the standard RCD310 for the RCD510, mainly due to the fact that all the instrumentation is now white/black which is cool but the RCD310 is blue backlit (weird?).

    I honestly think there is no better car in this segment. You can go anywhere, be anyone and the Golf will fit just fine. It is economic (this one averaging 6.5L per 100km), if in a crash there so many airbags it would be like a bouncy castle and with more safety abbreviations then a military procedure manual. (EBD, ABS, ESP and so on). Also the performance is one step down from “hot hatch”. Frankly here in NZ there are few roads to use “hot hatch” performance anyways.

    If this sounds like an advert I have no affiliation with VW but I do get concerned when I see people being put off these cars, due to some adverse comments here. So just adding my thoughts to redress the balance somewhat.

    There is some delay in the acceleration, in that you do have to be firm with the throttle but you do get used to that and I have never experienced any chirping or squeaking that concerned me. Does it make a slight noise, maybe but you can get too into this stuff sometimes. I know, I took back a TV once three times due to “buzzing”, in the end just forgot about it and it was fine…

    I would recommend the 1.4 twin charged engine to anyone, we may have to get used to it as downsizing is coming big time. I doubt there will be engines over 2 litres in 10 years time…

    Just my random thoughts in case it helps anyone.


  • jessie

    My wife want to replace her manual civic2000 hatch and wants VW Golf and im suppose to do tech research reliability and running cost. Even with VW118TSI car of the year award, we’re put off with this reliability issue, specially when we compare with honda civic & CRV that we never experience bringing to shop for repair in 5 yrs…what runabout hatch is out there?

  • paul slade

    118 tsi enginnes are dropping like flies, steer clear.

  • Roger Harvey

    I have now had my Golf TSI for 3 years – in this time it has had numerous visits to the dealer.
    The clutch has been replaced twice. The Bluetooth unit twice and this week the control unit which selects the gear changes has now failed. It will take a week to get the parts to the Sydney dealer.
    For a $39,000.00 car these failures are a disgrace and I am now approaching VW regarding the sale of this substandard product.

Volkswagen Golf Specs

Car Details
1K MY09
Body Type
New Price
Private Sale
$9,790 - $11,130
Dealer Retail
$11,290 - $13,420
Dealer Trade
$7,800 - $8,900
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
Engine Size
Max. Torque
148Nm @  3800rpm
Max. Power
75kW @  5600rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
Bore & Stroke
Compression Ratio
Valve Gear
Drivetrain Specifications
Drive Type
Final Drive Ratio
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
Fuel Tank Capacity
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
8.2L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Ground Clearance
Towing Capacity
Brake:1200  Unbrake:620
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
Turning Circle
Front Rim Size
Rear Rim Size
Front Tyres
195/65 R15
Rear Tyres
195/65 R15
Wheel Base
Front Track
Rear Track
Front Brakes
Rear Brakes
Front Suspension
MacPherson strut, Lower arm, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Anti roll bar
Rear Suspension
Multi-link system, Coil Spring, Anti roll bar, Hydraulic double acting shock absorber
Standard Features
Air Conditioning
Control & Handling
15 Inch Alloy Wheels, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Electronic Stability Program, Traction Control System
Power Steering
Radio CD with 6 Speakers
Power Mirrors
Power Windows
Dual Airbag Package, Anti-lock Braking, Head Airbags, Seatbelts - Pre-tensioners Front Seats, Side Front Air Bags
Central Locking Remote Control, Engine Immobiliser
Optional Features
Power Sunroof
Parking Distance Control, Satellite Navigation
CD with 6 CD Stacker
Fog Lights - Front, Metallic Paint
Service Interval
12 months /  15,000 kms
36 months /  100,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
Driver Side Inner Guard
Country of Origin