During the summer of 2020, Volkswagen decided it was time to freshen up their most popular model of all time and gave the Golf an all-new look – the Golf Mk8.
There were styling changes both inside and out, the introduction of a new engine range, and an explosion of technology.
So, with a new model on the market, does its predecessor – the Mk7.5 – still hold up today? And, more importantly, is it still worth your money?
Well, let’s find out.
Design and styling
Although a lot of the exterior bodywork is different, the new-shape VW Golf and the model that came before share the same platform. That means they’re roughly the same shape and size.
Particularly at the back, the Golfs’ silhouettes look almost identical, albeit the curvature on the new shape is slightly more pronounced.
The biggest changes, however, come at the front. The Golf Mk7.5 features an elegant bonnet, grille and light combination, all of which complement each other very well.
On the newer Mk8 meanwhile, everything seems a bit squished. And although it may be better aerodynamically – helping lower your fuel costs a touch – we much prefer the styling of the previous model.
MPG and running costs
|Fuel||Petrol & Diesel|
|Drive||Manual & Automatic|
Although they’re not the latest to come off Volkswagen’s production line, the engines in the Mk7.5 VW Golf are still extremely efficient.
In petrol form, of which there are eight different power outputs to choose from, you can expect your fuel economy to range from around 52 to 67mpg depending on which engine you pick.
And even if you’re looking for ultimate performance in the 296bhp Golf R, the figures are still impressive, with VW’s excellent 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine returning almost 40mpg.
If you’re after a diesel, as you might expect, those efficiency figures rise, with even the most uneconomical diesel engine in the range – the 2.0-litre 181bhp DSG – offering something between 57 and 62mpg.
There are also less powerful diesel options available which can take you all the way up to 83mpg.
Of course, the Golf Mk8 engines are slightly more efficient, partly down to their mild and full hybrid capabilities.
However, if you’re wanting an uber-efficient all-electric Golf, there’s no option available in the new shape like there is in the Mk7.5. Instead, you’ll have to settle for a plug-in hybrid or switch over to the VW ID.3.
Thanks to the strong economy of the Mk7.5 VW Golf’s engine range, no matter which power output you choose, running costs remain relatively low.
If you pick a standard petrol, you can expect your monthly fuel bill to be something between £75 and £95 a month driving 10,000 miles a year. Although in the Golf R, that’ll be considerably more.
In a diesel, though, your outgoings could be as low as £60 a month. And even in the more powerful 181bhp variant, it’ll likely only be around £20 a month more.
Engine, drive and performance
As we’ve already mentioned, there’s a wide range of engine options in the Mk7.5 VW Golf.
If you’re after petrol power, you have the choice of five engine sizes and an impressive 11 power outputs, ranging from the 1.0-litre 84bhp variant to the monstrous 296bhp 2.0-litre found in the Golf R.
A good middle ground would either be the 1.4-litre or 1.5-litre – depending on what age your Golf is – which produces 148bhp. If you’re looking for overall petrol performance, that’s the one we’d recommend, with a good balance of power and economy.
In the diesel, you can either have a 1.6-litre or 2.0-litre engine, and power ranges from 103bhp up to 181bhp.
Of course, if you’re performance-minded, nothing comes close to the Golf R. With a top speed of 155mph and a 0-60mph time of 4.6 seconds in the automatic, it’s a sensationally quick hot hatch.
The Volkswagen Golf has always been known for its sharp handling and comfortable ride. And it only added to that acclaim with the Mk7.5.
The new-shape Golf does have some improved characteristics, such as being slightly more nimble around town and featuring marginally lighter steering.
However, the difference behind the wheel is almost negligible. And no matter which Golf you choose, you’re going to get a great driving car.
The most notable difference between the VW Golf Mk7.5 and Mk8 is the interior. Volkswagen marketed the new-shape Golf as the ‘digital Golf’, and it’s hard to argue with that assessment.
In the Mk7.5, the driver controls are very button-heavy. A cluster of dials and switches surrounding a central touchscreen. And the same around the gear selector.
Some prefer that style, with physical knobs and switches making it easier to change your cabin’s environment while on the move.
But from an aesthetic standpoint, the Mk8’s more modern, minimalist look really takes the Golf’s interior to the next level.
That’s not to say the predecessor’s interior isn’t still an enjoyable place to be. It is. And for all the work that’s gone into the new Golf Mk8, to produce a boot the same size as the Mk7.5 is a touch disappointing.
So, if space is important to you, given they’re based on the same platform with the same amount of room in the boot, there’s little to split the two cars.
But solely from an interior design point of view, the Mk8 is streets ahead.
Reliability and safety
Given the Mk7.5 Golf has been around since 2013, we now have a good idea of its long-term reliability. And, as you’d expect from a Volkswagen, it’s as long-lasting as they come.
Of course, it’s not a perfect score, with the most common problem reported involving the vehicle’s electrics – namely glitches to the sat-nav.
However, if you’re looking for a reliable used car, you usually can’t go wrong with something German, and it’s the same for the VW Golf.
When tested in 2012, the VW Golf Mk7.5 scored a maximum five stars in its Euro NCAP safety rating, with adult occupant safety scoring an impressive 94% and child safety recording of 89% – something which will put family drivers’ minds at ease.
Cost and deals
With a new Golf design came a new, considerably more expensive price tag.
So, with the increase in list price, you’d expect the monthly payments to have risen, too. Well, not necessarily.
On a personal lease agreement, the Mk8’s monthly payment hasn’t altered too much from that of a new Mk7.5.
However, because the Mk7.5 is no longer made from new, you can now pick up some incredible value Approved Used deals.
Is it worth buying an Mk7.5 VW Golf?
So, the question we came here to answer. Is it still good value for you to choose an Approved Used Mk7.5 VW Golf? And the simple answer is yes.
The new-shape Mk8 comes with better equipment and a more modern interior. There’s no getting away from that.
However, for driving feel, practicality, better looks (in our opinion) and overall value for money, the Mk7.5 VW Golf is still a great all-round hatchback.
And even though it’s now a few years old, the Mk7.5 Golf still continues to trump even its younger competition, such as the Vauxhall Astra and Ford Focus.
It’s simply still a great car. End of.