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.
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.
What To Look For (used_look)
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.
(approx based on a 2010 Golf 1.4 TSI excl. VAT) Parts aren't priced too badly with a clutch assembly will be around £75 and an alternator should be close to £115. Brake pads front and rear are about £55 and £45 respectively.
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.
Riding on the same underpinnings as the Mk5 Golf, you won't be expecting the Mk6 model's road-going performance to be anything other than highly polished. It uses a combination of MacPherson struts at the front wheels and four-link suspension at the rear promising to replicate the supple ride and adroit handling of its predecessor. The electro/mechanical steering system is also carried over, enabling an 11m turning circle. Power is fed to the wheels through a standard six-speed manual gearbox, but the fast-shifting seven-speed DSG twin clutch gearbox is also available.
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 an outlier 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.