• Fantastic build quality
    • Timeless exterior / interior design
    • Polished powertrain / chassis combination
    • Requires premium unleaded
    • They don't produce them anymore
    • ....That's about it
    5 Star

    About the Volkswagen Golf

    Paul D purchased this Volkswagen Golf used for $13,300 (including all on-road costs) in 2019. Paul D would buy this car again because: “The Golf has been a fantastic all round car providing a level of sophistication and poise which many brands today (including Volkswagen today) struggle to offer.

    The world is going down a path of electrification, however the Mark 7 Golf is a great example of an over-engineered volume vehicle providing a safe, practical, enjoyable and premium driving experience to the masses, and one which I hope to enjoy for many years to come.”

    How reliable has your car been? Tell us about any issues.

    I’ve owned the car for four years now, having purchased from the local Mazda dealer (Artarmon Mazda for the locals) who received the car as a trade-in.

    When inspecting the car the Salesperson would only let me test drive the car if I was ‘seriously interested’, as the car was parked in the showroom and he needed to move two cars to get the Golf out.

    I was effectively forced to put forward a $2000 deposit which wasn’t ideal but the car was in immaculate condition and I didn’t see any issues coming up subject to the test drive.

    I did sign the contract but it was subject to an MTA inspection which was conducted a few days later, with no issues surfacing then (Frank Carbone was the inspector – highly recommend).

    I purchased the car at six years old with 53,000km, and to date have added an additional 34,000km (c. 8500km per year), with no material issues on the reliability front.

    The previous owner had serviced the car at the local Volkswagen dealer (North Shore/Alto Volkswagen North Shore) and I have continued to service with them.

    Servicing work to date has largely been maintenance related. Since I’ve owned the vehicle beyond the regular oil.air filter change I’ve had new spark plugs (2020) and a timing belt (2021).

    Not sure what happened with the timing belt but the dealer had the car for a week, I wasn’t too worried as I’d negotiated the timing belt install ($1100) on the condition I had a loan car (T-Cross, newer infotainment and turbo three thrum but overall felt cheaper than my Golf).

    Last year I had an issue where the radiator fan was turning on at start, and this was fixed by the dealer by clearing the error code.

    Other things have been the front brakes and discs myself last year (a very steep learning exercise as I didn’t have the right torque wrench to remove and install – 200Nm is a lot!) The battery was also replaced one month after buying, although I put this down to age as the car was six years old.

    To reduce battery wear I turn the start-stop function off when I drive the car, and focus on driving efficiently (which can be hard at times when I want to have some fun), but definitely a better outcome than relying on this technology.

    What do you think of the ownership experience with your car?

    I consider myself a car enthusiast having owned a number of cars since getting my licence.

    Being a 90s kid I’ve naturally had a passion for the local Aussie cars. I bought my first car straight after passing my probation as a grad, getting a novated lease for a 2010 VE SS (A manual Sportwagon at that).

    I only owned the car for 18 months, the gf at the time becoming a growing expense, but also the VE being a very disappointing ownership proposition.

    Sagging roof liner, melting dashboard, peeling clear coat, it was not what I expected from a six-year old car with 100,000km.

    As it happened my childhood had comprised of many Aussie sixes, including a ‘96 TE Magna (V6 Altera), and an 05’VZ Executive sedan (ex fleet in Martina Mica, and yes it came with Air-con!)

    The build quality in those both surpassed the VE, although the Magna was also questionable in other fronts (it burned oil like no tomorrow).

    Since the VE I’ve owned an MD Hyundai Elantra (bought with the head, not the heart), worked for a brief period at a certain Korean car company that afforded me a new car every six months (largely uninspiring cars with the exception of the most popular light car in Aus), a W124 280E (a beautifully engineered car with such a cosseting ride and smooth inline six, with mine as sublime as it was a rust bucket), and more recently a 2009 Alfa GT (the once a fortnight car which I frequently sit and watch from afar in the garage).

    When it came to buying the Golf it was one driven by my partner at the time, who in short ‘wanted a Golf’. I was conscious of the DSG sagas and placed the condition that I was ok with the proposition so long as it was manual, which was agreed.

    The target was a Mark 7 Golf, specifically in 90TSI base or Comfortline spec.

    I had driven the Mark 7 Golf on two prior occasions whilst travelling in Europe, the first being a 77TSI DSG engine in Highline Spec, the second being the 110TDI manual in a Comfortline equivalent spec.

    Both vehicles were outstanding and shocked me on what a well made and engineered car actually is (ahem Holden), handling the German autobahn with such ease, particularly the TDI which comfortably swallowed up the bitumen at 220km/h.

    The Mark 7 compared to the Mark VI before it truly felt like a well built, polished and sophisticated all rounder vehicle, which in Manual spec had filtered out the gremlins of powertrains past and benefited from the new MQB platform, one which in Mark 7/7.5 guise continues to put the other premium German brands on notice (Note: not the Mark 8).

    Fun fact: Mercedes-Benz purportedly delayed the launch of the W205 C-Class by one year because it was unable to match the quality of the Mark 7 Golf in the first instance.

    I’m happy to say my brief experience with the Mark 7 Golf in its homeland has translated well down-under.

    The car has mostly been based in Sydney, but has completed trips up and down the coast. The outstanding thing I find with this car is that it is fantastic in so many applications. In the city it’s a zippy car which doesn’t shy away from joyful driving, the 1.2t kerb weight providing great handling, while on the freeway it inspires such confidence.

    With Australia’s speed limits I really don’t need more than the 90kW on offer, and I’m able to have enough fun without pushing too far beyond the speed limit, whilst the 200Nm on tap from 1400rpm provides for comfortable driving with great flexibility in the way it delivers power, requiring less gear changes due to the larger torque curve.

    Fuel consumption wise I average around 6.8L/100km in the city, whist high driving falls into the mid 5.0s, having even dipped to around 4.0L/100km on an 80km/h stretch of road. Not bad for a petrol car!

    The thing I love about this car is that I don’t have to be delicate with her like what I’d imagine with a Mercedes or BMW.

    The vehicle is premium but durable, handling my ad hoc trips to Bunnings or sandy trips to the beach. I do a bit of cycling and kayaking, and have the roof racks and supporting accessories on the car to allow those adventures. It really is a car for all applications.

    Since buying the Golf I have helped a number of friends and family to buy one, my latest count being at 5. My sister has had two doses of the Mark 7 Golf, helping her buy a 2016 Mark 7 92TSI Trendline Manual back in 2019, and now behind a 7.5 Alltrack Premium. I really don’t understand why you need an SUV based on what the Alltrack offers.

    Overall the ownership experience has been fantastic, and seems one which resonates with other owners. I recently saw a Golf in the same spec as mine on carsales with 315,000km. Looking at the photos the body, paint and interior seemed as tight as ever, which provides me great confidence in my car has it nears 90,000km.

    Are you happy with the price and features of your car?

    I purchased my Golf second hand at a time where there was an oversupply in the new vehicle market, equivalent suppressing prices in the used car market.

    I also benefited from the fact that the dealer in question had listed the vehicle as a base model and had not realised it was a mid-spec Comfortline, and had priced accordingly. I was therefore more than happy to oblige with his price, eager to purchase before someone else found this treasure.

    A great feature of this car is the brake hold function, which particularly does wonders as a Manual car. Hill starts and tight parking spaces are a breeze, as there is no rolling as the brakes hold the vehicle each time the car comes to a standstill.

    The handbrake also automatically releases when the driver puts their seatbelt on and releases the clutch, with the handbrake activate every time the seatbelt is taken off and the engine is turned off. Both this and the brake hold make the car such an easy thing to drive.

    My car came without the safety pack which included AEB, blind spot assist, self-parking and ACC. This would be fantastic in a world where I could spec this in but otherwise I’m really happy with the Comfortline specification considering the price I paid for the car.

    What do you think of the performance and economy of your car?

    I think I’ve probably answered this accidentally in the above section but the performance and economy of this car suit me perfectly.

    A few years back I considered upgrading to a Mark 7 GTI, but found that a) it really wasn’t that all different from mine and b) had too much power, being very over the speed limit by the time you were in an enjoyable part of the rev range. The GTI also weighs about 200kg more, which I could really feel behind the wheel.

    My sister’s Alltrack is equivalently porky, the DSG/wagon/AWD combination adding another 350kg to my car. The 1.8TSI in that car is fine but that car feels underpowered in situations where mine does not.

    I should also add that the manual in this instance makes all the difference, the DSG can find itself hunting for gears on uphills whereas I have confidence to hold my car in 3rd or 4th depending on the gradient.

    My only gripe is the clutch uptake on the car is slightly high (common for Volkswagen Group MQB cars), first is quite short, and the gap between the clutch and brake pedal doesn’t allow for heel-toe activity (have tried unsuccessfully, leading to some sudden braking in peak hour traffic).

    What do you think of the technology in your car?

    In short, the technology set up in the vehicle is great.

    The designers and engineers really thought out the user interface for the Mark 7 Golf, and seemingly being ahead of its time, particularly as Volkswagen and other brands are being forced to move back from their haptic feedback steering wheel controls and touchscreen enabled HVAC systems.

    Some might call the interior of a Mark 7 Golf or any Volkswagen of that era austere, but I think it’s fantastic both in design and in application.

    The touch points are of high quality, in particular the leather steering wheel, the solid ‘thunk’ from closing the door and boot lid, and the feel of the door handles when opening the door from the inside.

    The Comfortline spec luckily forgoes the black plastic trim of the Highline, having a brushed silver outlay that forgoes the finger prints which are prone to black plastic inserts.

    The white interior lighting is quite nice, preferring it over the red lighting commonly seen in Audis and BMW’s.

    For insight I recently rented a BMW iX3 from Sixt car rental (was on special so thought why not), and came out quite disappointed. Opening the door, pulling the centre dash cover, pressing the tailgate close button on the boot, they just didn’t feel like something you’d expect from a $100k+ vehicle.

    For full disclosure: I upgraded my Golf to the 6.5 inch MIB2 app connect system found in the 2016 onwards Mark 7 Golfs. It required a little research, but effectively replaced the existing 5.0-inch screen with the 6.5-inch display with one found at the wreckers, and also bought a head unit (the thing in the glovebox) which was unlocked by someone I found on Facebook marketplace.

    The upgraded unit provides Apple CarPlay, Android Auto functionality while still being OEM spec. If there’s one claim to fame I have is I probably have the only 90TSI Comfortline manual in Australia with Apple CarPlay (the comfortline manual was discontinued at the MY16 update).

    I’m currently in the process of going one further and upgrading to an 8.0 inch unit that was available in Europe but not in Australia. The screen is the same as that in a Passat but need a new surrounding dash trim piece which has required an EBay order from Lithuania… watch this space!

    What do you think of the ride comfort and handling of your car?

    I don’t think I can add anymore on this beyond what is already written in existing reviews of the car.

    In short, the ride and handling for me provides a good mix of control necessary to maintain a good holding over our fantastic roads here in Sydney / Aus. The Comfortline comes with 205/55 R16 tyres, which provides sufficient absorption of the bumps that are encountered on the road.

    I have a set of Michelin Primacy 4s on the car which I find compliment the already well-insulated nature of the car, providing for a quiet interior ambience whilst providing sufficient grip around corners and in the wet.

    The steering is light but consistently weighted, something I didn’t find in the equivalent 8V series Audi A3 twin brother. The steering provides great confidence in the vehicle’s placement on the road, particularly in more spirited driving.

    I found the Golfs I drove in Europe provided great confidence at speed on the autobahn, which is something I oddly didn’t have from a G21 330e Touring I recently had on a European roadtrip earlier this year (the 330e had this odd vagueness mid centre, which was scary when driving 170+km/hr).

    The brakes are a Bosch unit which provide great grip, but like many European cars they’re a soft compound pad that dust up the front wheels sooner than you’d like, although this is a compromise worth making.

    Do you have any additional comments about your car?

    I feel there is a luxury afforded to independent reviewers such as myself versus professional motoring journalists who are in the enviable position of driving and testing new cars for a living. That is, an owner like myself can call out manufacturers where they’re new cars are not up to the spec to their previous generation (unless admitted by the manufacturer themself).

    For me, a new car doesn’t necessarily equate to a better car, with the Mark 7 /7.5 Golf being a clear example of this.

    The new Golf 8 by any standard is crap. It was a rushed rollout of a vehicle by a company plagued by distractions and cost cuts driven by Dieselgate, with limited capital to truly invest in the vehicle.

    Volkswagen themselves have recently come out and admitted they’ve fallen back in recent times when it comes to vehicle quality, particularly interior quality.

    A driver spends all their time behind the wheel, what they see and feel in there is so important.

    When a brand launches a new car it shouldn’t be just for the sake of selling something that’s new. It should have a purpose, it should showcase innovation, and at the very least it should be better than the previous generation.

    As a Golf 7 owner it was very disappointing to see what Volkswagen did with the Golf 8, after the fantastic vehicle they produced with the Golf 7.

    OEMs including Volkswagen deserve to be called out on this. Namely: Don’t take consumers for granted, particularly when you are charging higher prices for your new cars.

    The pace of movement to EV’s is increasing rapidly, I just hope OEM’s continue to build cars to at least the same quality to the cars that have passed them, and not rely on big screens as a point of difference. We already have iPhones/Android, beyond CarPlay and Android Auto we don’t need our cars to just be a smartphone on wheels!

    In the meantime, to those looking at a new small hatchback or looking for a high quality all round car, I would highly recommend having a look at a Golf 7 / 7.5. Like the W124 series E class from the 80s/early 90s, it is an example of a well engineered vehicle which is worthy of a look even compared to its new brethren.

    I for one will be holding my Mark 7 for many years to come.

    Overall Rating

    Ride & Handling8.8
    Price & Features10
    Performance & Economy10
    Ownership Experience9.5