Buyer's Guide

2021 Volkswagen Golf
Select a Different Model (2 Available): TSI (Auto) Hatchback
Fuel Economy $ 29 / 35 mpg
Horsepower 147@5,000
Torque 184@1,400
See All Specs
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2021 Volkswagen Golf MODEL OVERVIEW

Pros

  • Nimble, agile handling
  • Zippy and fuel-efficient engine
  • Good versatility in a compact body

Cons

  • Uncomfortable steering wheel
  • Lacks the latest tech features
  • Only one trim level

First introduced in 1974, the Volkswagen Golf is an originator in the compact hatchback segment. The current seventh-generation Golf went on sale for 2015 and provides compact, versatile, affordable transportation. With millions of units sold, the Golf is a benchmark-setting vehicle. However, as consumers increasingly choose crossovers, its future in the U.S. is somewhat unclear. If a new model does reach the U.S. market, it should reach dealers in the 2022 model year.

What We Think

When this generation of Golf was introduced for 2015, it won MotorTrend's Car of the Year award. The car succeeded with its smart packaging, nice driving manners, and strong fuel efficiency.

Those attributes haven't changed, but in 2021 the Golf's tech is starting to fall behind. Its infotainment touchscreen is a bit small and low-res, but the user interface works well despite not being Volkswagen's latest system. However, some competitors offer adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and other driver aids that the Golf can't match.

Still, the Golf has appeal. Its turbocharged engine and agile handling provide zippy, enjoyable dynamics. Despite compact exterior dimensions, the Golf's interior is surprisingly versatile and spacious for passengers or cargo.

The Golf is an excellent value, but in 2021 comes with something of a red flag. Why? There's a new Golf with more capability and higher tech already on sale overseas. If it comes to the U.S. you'd miss out on something potentially better. If it doesn't, the standard Golf might be finished here.

Enthusiasts need not worry, though, as Volkswagen has confirmed that the GTI will be sold stateside as a 2022 model. See our buyer's guide for that hot hatchback here.

Is a New Volkswagen Golf Coming Out?

The eighth-generation Golf is already on sale and strutting its modern looks over in Europe. Meanwhile, Americans are stuck with the same old (albeit enjoyable) seventh-generation Golf we've had for years. Will that new hatchback arrive on our shores? It's complicated.

Volkswagen once said it's "under consideration," but more recently they told us that it won't sell the standard Golf here. Could it be that this long-standing nameplate will make its departure after 2021? Given Volkswagen's focus on crossovers and electric vehicles, and the dwindling hatchback segment, maybe so.

One thing is for certain, though: the new GTI is on its way to the States. Chances are also looking good for the return of the Golf R. You'll just have to be patient, as the GTI isn't slated to arrive until late 2021 as a 2022 model. In the meantime, we'll hold out hope that Volkswagen will come to its senses and decide to sell the standard Golf here, too.

Is the Golf GTI Quick?

The Golf GTI might be the world's best-known hot hatchback. Various versions of that model have been putting smiles on driving enthusiasts' faces since the mid-1970s. The 2021 GTI packs a 2.0-liter turbo-four engine cranking out 220 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque.

In MotorTrend testing, a GTI equipped with a six-speed manual transmission did the 0-60 mph sprint in 6.2 seconds and hit the quarter mile in 14.7 seconds at 98.6 mph. With the available seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, it was a bit quicker, accelerating to 60 mph in 6.0 seconds and through the quarter mile in 14.5 seconds at 98.6 mph. Of course, handling is a strong suit; the Golf GTI is plenty of fun to toss around.

Volkswagen gives the GTI a few updates for 2021, but it might be worth it to hold out on buying one. That's because the next-gen GTI has been revealed and is due to arrive as a 2022 model.

Performance and Fuel Economy

The Golf is powered by a 1.4-liter turbo-four engine producing 147 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, all sent to the front wheels by a standard six-speed manual or optional eight-speed automatic transmission. MotorTrend testing measured a 7.7-second 0-60 mph time from an automatic Golf. The 2020 Golf's EPA-rated fuel economy was 28/36 mpg city/highway with the manual, and 29/35 mpg with the automatic; fuel economy for the 2021 Golf should be similar.

Safety

The NHTSA gives the Golf a five-star overall safety rating (out of five stars). When the 2020 Golf was evaluated by the IIHS, it earned the top Good score in five crashworthiness tests, but the second-highest Acceptable score in passenger-side small front overlap. However, its halogen headlights got a Poor score, the lowest.

Forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, and rain sensing windshield wipers are standard on the Golf.

Cargo Space and Interior Room

Behind the second-row seats, cargo space measures 22.8 cubic feet. Folding the 60/40 split-folding second row increases capacity to 53.7 cubic feet.

Front-row headroom measures 38.4 inches in the Golf, a tie with the Toyota Corolla Hatchback. The Golf offers a bit more second-row headroom, with 38.1 inches to the Corolla's 37.6 inches. Front-row legroom is 41.2 inches in the Volkswagen, less than 42.0 inches in the Toyota. However, there's much more rear legroom in the Golf: 35.6 inches compared to just 29.9 in the Corolla.

Technology

The Golf has a 6.5-inch infotainment touchscreen. It's compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Bluetooth connectivity and Wi-Fi hotspot capability are also included. A small vehicle information display is mounted in the gauge cluster. The Golf has a six-speaker audio system and one USB Type-C port. Volkswagen's Car-Net app allows monitoring and control of vehicle functions from your smartphone.

Key Competitors:

2021 VOLKSWAGEN GOLF SPECIFICATIONS
OVERVIEW
FEATURES
WARRANTY/RECALL
SAFETY
REBATES
Engine Name
Engine: 4-Cyl Turbo 1.4 Liter
Transmission Name
Transmission, Tiptronic 8 Speed Automatic Mode Select with Manual Mode
Trim
TSI (Auto) Hatchback
Class
Compact Passenger Car
Horsepower
147@5,000
Standard MPG
29/35
Body Style
Hatchback
Drivetrain
FWD
Fuel Type
Unleaded Regular
Seating Capacity
5/5
Package Invoice Retail
Show Full Specs
Corrosion Warranty Miles
100,000
Maintenance Warranty Months
24
Corrosion Warranty Months
84
Powertrain Warranty Miles
50,000
Full Warranty Miles
50,000
Powertrain Warranty Months
48
Full Warranty Months
48
Roadside Assistance Miles
36,000
Maintenance Warranty Miles
20,000
Roadside Assistance Months
36
IIHS Best Pick
0
NHTSA Rating Front Driver
Not Rated
IIHS Front Moderate Overlap
N/R
NHTSA Rating Front Passenger
Not Rated
IIHS Front Small Overlap
N/R
NHTSA Rating Front Side
Not Rated
IIHS Overall Side Crash
N/R
NHTSA Rating Overall
Not Rated
IIHS Rear Crash
N/R
NHTSA Rating Rear Side
Not Rated
IIHS Roof Strength
N/R
NHTSA Rating Rollover
Not Rated
Amount Description Expiry Date
$0 0.9% Financing available for varying term lengths : 36, 48, 60 Months - Volkswagen announces special APR financing on select models. 03-01-2021
$0 1.9% Financing for a maximum term of 72 Months - Volkswagen announces special APR financing on select models. 03-01-2021
$0 2.4% Financing for a maximum term of 75 Months - Volkswagen announces special APR financing on select models. 03-01-2021
$500 Volkswagen announces a College Graduate program for customers who finance or lease through Volkswagen Credit on select models. 01-03-2022