The car that bridges mainstream and premium, VW's evergreen Golf is a cracker in Mk5 form. Some earlier editions of the Golf proved fragile, but this marked a return to form for VW - although complete reliability is still not assured. However, the Golf is great to drive, spacious and comfortable, while it's got a rock-solid image too. But the Golf is also a relatively costly car compared with its rivals, so expect to pay for the privilege of owning one.
2/04: The fifth-generation Golf goes on sale.
1/05: The GTi reaches showrooms.
1/06: The 247bhp R32 joins the range.
6/05: A high-roofed Golf arrives, called Golf Plus.
6/06: The 138bhp 1.4TSi replaces the 2.0 GT.
6/07: The Golf estate is launched and a 170bhp edition of the 1.4TSi engine appears.
8/08: The sixth-generation Golf is unveiled.
Volkswagen Golf Mk5 (2004-2008) Checklist
- Check the stereo and climate control work properly, as they can prove temperamental.
- Get the engine up to temperature then leave the car idling to see if the radiator's electric fan cuts in; it sometimes doesn't.
- The rear light lenses can fill up with condensation, as their seals can fail, allowing water in.
- The door seals can fail, allowing rainwater to get into the cabin, rotting the carpet.
- On turbodiesels the turbocharger's oil seals can fail; repairs are very costly.
- Air conditioning compressors and condensors can fail on the Golf GTi.
- The FSi engine likes high-octane fuel; using 95-octane petrol can lead to running and starting problems.
We Don't Like
- High prices