The car featured in this road test is almost the perfect default option for drivers who want a classy hatchback that won’t cost them the earth in tax.
The Volkswagen badge brings with it a classless cachet, while the car offers room for a family, solid build quality and a driving package which blends solidity with comfort.
And in its Mark VI iteration, the Golf is the best it has ever been.
Build quality is excellent, the cabin is spacious and also exceptionally well insulated against wind and tyre noise, it looks sporty (especially in GT trim which brings a lowered ride height, 17-inch alloy wheels and numerous styling tweaks to signify it is a sporty model) and plenty of standard equipment such as air conditioning, electric windows and mirrors, cruise control, tyre pressure monitor, CD player with MP3 dock, a host of airbags and leather trim for the gearknob, handbrake and steering wheel.
Factor in a monthly benefit-in-kind tax bill of £59, and the maximum five stars in the EuroNCAP crash tests, and the appeal for a driver is clear.
And there are also benefits for a fleet running a Golf. Thanks to the positioning of the Volkswagen brand, sitting between the volume and premium badges, the Golf is the best performer in this test when it comes to retaining its value.
CAP estimates it will be worth £6,425 (33% of cost new) after four years and 80,000 miles.
Only the BMW 118d comes close to this performance (£6,050/30%), while the Honda Civic retains 24% and the Focus a lowly 18% over the same period.
This translates into the lowest running costs of the four cars featured here, costing around £200 less over four years and 80,000 miles than the BMW in second place.
While the Golf can not match the BMW’s outright fuel economy figure, in daily use we still managed nearly 50mpg in a range of conditions during our week-long test.
As more fleets and their drivers look to downsize into vehicles from the class below to save money, the Golf looks sure to continue its success in the fleet market.
From a driver’s perspective it offers a quality badge and product with reasonable costs (as well as looking the part in GT trim), while for a fleet the model’s residual value strength makes it a sensible choice.
“Volkswagen is an inspirational brand. We have 70 Mark VIs on the fleet – they have been well received, with staff commenting on the sporty looks.”
Mark Cameron, fleet administrator,Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward
- BMW 118d Sport 5dr
- Ford Focus 2.0 TDCi Zetec S 5dr
- Honda Civic 2.2 i-CTDi ES GT 5dr
Fully-loaded Civic looks good value while Ford price rises have made Focus look expensive.
- Civic £19,380
- Golf £19,641
- 118d £19,850
- Focus £19,865
Emissions and tax
A 20% tax-payer’s BIK bill will be £43 a month in the BMW – Civic £58, VW £59, Focus £63.
- 118d 119g/km/13%
- Golf 129g/km/18%
- Civic 139g/km/18%
- Focus 144g/km/19%
BMW returns 62.8mpg combined. Golf offers 57.6, Civic 53.3 and Focus 51.3mpg average.
- 118d 7.46/£5,968
- Golf 8.13/£6,504
- Civic 8.79/£7,032
- Focus 9.13/£7,304
Strong RV gives Golf the edge, while BMW’s fuel economy secures a strong second place.
- Golf 29.27/£23,416
- 118d 29.53/£23,624
- Civic 32.22/£25,776
- Focus 33.65/£26,920
Lowest monthly rental with maintenance from www.comparecontracthire.com (excluding VAT).
- Focus £250 (TCH)
- Civic £255 (TCH)
- Golf £262 (TCH)
- 118d £274 (TCH)
BMW’s EfficientDynamics technology brings useful fuel and emissions savings in this test, and its BIK bill of £43 a month is way ahead of the others.
The Golf counters with the lowest running costs of the four. So it comes down to a straight chocie between the Golf and 118d – the Golf wins thanks to its better interior space.
Winner: Volkswagen Golf 2.0 TDI GT