Choosing which car to go for can be a daunting experience, when you have to live with your decision for a number of years. However, even when you’ve decided which vehicle to go for, you still have the baffling choice of which model and variant to opt for.
Here we’ve looked at the Volkswagen Golf range – one of the most popular cars on sale in the UK – to help you make the decision of which version best suits your needs – and budget.
You may think that a diesel would work out cheaper over a few years, but with current fuel prices you could have to wait up to 10 years before recouping the price premium of a diesel in lower fuel costs. As for whether you need a three or five-door hatchback version, think about whether you are willing to spend an extra £655 for the privilege of two extra doors.
Best value Volkswagen Golf
The Volkswagen Golf is a car known for its quality rather than low prices. However, you don’t have to spend top dollar to get a model which should prove cheap to run and packed with all the essential kit you could want. With the advent of ever more high-tech kit, even the entry level versions may have more than enough equipment for your needs.
We’d steer clear of the most basic 1.2 85 petrol model, as the car may lack the muscle to lug you and a number of passengers around. However, the 1.2 105 version should prove more than adequate for most buyers. This £18,185 Golf returns strong claimed fuel economy of 57.6mpg and annual car tax of just £30, though it can sprint to 62mph in a sprightly 10.2 seconds.
Even the most basic Golf includes air conditioning, a digital radio and a trip computer, though alloy wheels are absent from the spec list. If this bothers you, though, £425 is enough to get you a set of 15-inch alloy wheels.
Avoid the 1.6 TDI unless you cover high mileages
The popularity of diesels may have rocketed over the last decade, however, many diesels carry a high price premium. Consequently, unless you cover high mileages every year, it could be a false economy to opt for a diesel over a cheaper petrol version. This is the case with the Golf 1.6 TDI Bluemotion, which costs £2,830 more than an identically-equipped petrol model.
Though the 1.6 TDI Bluemotion returns a highly impressive 88.3mpg, compared to just 57.6mpg for the 1.2-litre petrol, the £2,830 extra needed to purchase the diesel means that you’d have to cover nearly 100,000 miles before benefitting from the lower fuel consumption. If you drive around 10,000 miles per year this would take you 10 years – substantially longer than the average car owner holds onto their vehicle.
As a result, most drivers would be better off going for the cheaper car. This is the same story with the standard 1.6 TDI 105 diesel, which returns 74.3mpg.
Petrol proves cheaper even with top-of-the-range Golfs
If you’re after a more upmarket Golf, you’ll still have to pay a premium for a diesel model over an equivalent petrol; £505 in the case of the 2.0 TDI 150 GT compared to the petrol 1.4 TSI 150 GT. This may sound like a much smaller premium than the cheaper Golfs, though someone covering 10,000 miles per year would still need to run the car for more than five years before benefitting from the diesel’s lower fuel consumption.
Car tax is identical for these versions, so it’s only worth choosing the diesel if you plan to own the car for longer than five years. Both models are packed with equipment including parking sensors front and rear, sat nav, sports seats, automatic headlights and wipers and adaptive cruise control, which automatically maintains a safe distance behind the car in front on the motorway.