Gearbox: VW has largely fixed its DSG problem, but some early cars still have problems. Make sure that the gearbox shifts smoothly and that there is no erroneous behavior.
Engines: Gasoline engine timing chains are known to break, causing significant engine damage. Having the car serviced on time alleviates this problem, so a full service history is crucial.
Electricity : There have been reports of faults with the satellite navigation and entertainment system, so check that all electrical devices are working as they should.
Fuel consumption: GTIs can drink a lot of oil, so checking the level between services is crucial. If it is too low, it can damage the engine or the timing chain.
Adaptive cruise: Cars equipped with adaptive cruise control may suffer from problems with the system slamming on the brakes. It can be recalibrated, at a cost.
Reminders: There are too many recalls to detail, but they include issues with airbags, seat belt tensioners, fuel leaks, front wheel bearing housings, improper front brake disc mounting, backing downs. head, child locks, rear hub brackets and seat backs. Your VW dealer will be able to tell if your car is affected and if any repair work has been done.
Reliability: Reliability data from our sister magazine What Car? indicate that gasoline-powered Golfs are more reliable than diesels. The gasolines received a reliability rating of 94.6% and the diesels 89.4% – neither terrible nor amazing. Volkswagen as a brand ranked 20th out of 30 in the same survey.
1.5 TSI Evo 130: Gasoline Golfs are quieter and smoother than their diesel counterparts, yet just as punchy on the road. Our favorite among the older cars is the 1.4 TSI 125, while on later post-facelift cars the 1.5 Evo 130 version gets our vote.