Is A Volkswagen Golf A Good First Car?

The very first Volkswagen Golf rolled off of the assembly line in March 1974. It has proven to have a lot of staying power since that time, and plenty of people are curious about if this vehicle may be the ideal choice as a first car for themselves or their children.

Since 1974, Volkswagen has produced more than 35 million Golfs. Given its popularity, many people wonder whether the Golf is a good choice for a first car. Keep reading to find out!

Is The Volkswagen Golf A Good First Car? 

The Volkswagen Golf is regarded as a good first car because it is fuel efficient and offers numerous safety features that make it a great choice for a new driver.

In this article, we will discuss some of these features and explain why they are important. Before we list the benefits to be gained by choosing a Volkswagen Golf for a first car, we will first discuss some of the possible downsides of owning a Golf so that you will have a well-rounded perspective of the vehicle.

Downsides Of A Volkswagen Golf

Let us start with the downsides of the Volkswagen Golf so you know what to look out for when deciding if this is the right vehicle for a new driver:

1) Some Don’t Care For The Design

One of the potential downsides is that the Volkswagen Golf has a unique look to it that may not appeal to everyone. While many people would agree that the MK8 Golf is more attractive than the first generation Golf, there are some potential buyers who will not care for the design of the current Golf.

Some buyers may not care for the aggressive sloping hood, while other buyers do not like the Golf because it is a hatchback. Even though the design styling of the Golf may be a turn-off to some, at the end of the day styling is not the most important factor to consider when purchasing your first car.   

2) Questions About Long-Term Support For Parts

Since 2021 was the last year that the Golf was manufactured for the North American market (except for the Golf R and Golf GTI), there is some chatter questioning the long-term availability of parts.

Volkswagen hasn’t stated that they will no longer manufacture parts for the vehicle or that their dealerships will stop providing repairs for the Golf models that are no longer being produced.

Secondly, when auto manufacturers produce performance versions of their vehicles, these performance-oriented versions use many of the same parts as the lower trim models.

Since the performance-focused Golf R’s and GTI’s are still being manufactured, many of the parts for these cars will be interchangeable with the parts for your non-performance Golf.

Even when we reach the point where purchasing OEM Golf parts from the Volkswagen dealership no longer exists, you will more than likely be able to purchase aftermarket parts from various retailers.

3) Horsepower Is Lacking

Depending upon the trim level of Golf that you choose, you may find that the horsepower is a bit lacking. While a 700-horsepower sports car probably has too much power for the average new driver, having a sufficient amount of horsepower to get out of harm’s way is also beneficial for new drivers.

If you are shopping for a used Golf, you may find that the 147 horsepower in the Golf TSI doesn’t quite provide the power that you need.

If you are shopping for a new Volkswagen Golf, the lack of horsepower probably will not be an issue for you since the Golf R produces 315 horsepower and the GTI produces 241.

4) Front Wheel Drive

Another potential downside to purchasing a Volkswagen Golf GTI as a first car could be that it is front-wheel drive. If you live in an area that is prone to wintery precipitation, you may prefer to have an all-wheel drive vehicle to provide additional traction in inclement weather.

For potential buyers who prefer all-wheel drive, the Golf R may be the car to select since it provides an all-wheel drive system with a torque vectoring rear differential.

Benefits of Using the Volkswagen Golf as a First Car

Let’s now take a look at the reasons why a Volkswagen Golf is a great vehicle to have as your first. 

1) Fuel Efficient

Of the Golf models currently in production, the GTI is the most fuel-efficient and achieves 25 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. The Golf R sacrifices a bit in the fuel efficiency department for increased performance and achieves 20 mpg city and 28 mpg highway.

The fuel efficiency of either model currently offered will help to minimize fuel costs over the life of the vehicle.  

2) Manual Transmission

Despite many car manufacturers abandoning the notion of producing vehicles with manual transmissions, a new Golf can be purchased with a manual transmission. While it is a dying skill, having the ability to drive a vehicle with a manual transmission is beneficial and desired by some.

3) Beautiful Interior

The interior of the Golf has been improved over the years and the current model Golf offers an interior that many buyers will find aesthetically pleasing.

The Golf offers a large tablet-style infotainment center, ambient lighting, and much more.  The Golf also offers supportive seats that many will find to be comfortable for their daily commute to work or for longer road trips.

4) Great Technology On Board

These days, the technology that is on board your vehicle can be just as important as any other feature.

As previously mentioned, the Volkswagen Golf offers what is known as an “infotainment” system. This is a system that allows the driver to use their 6.5-inch touchscreen to get the latest information about their car (fuel economy, distance to empty, etc), to control their music/telephone and other app-provided content.

The driver may also appreciate seeing turn-by-turn navigation available to them on their system as well. A new driver may find that built-in navigation is helpful since it will provide both audible directions so they can keep their eyes on the road while driving.

5) Excellent Safety Ratings

A vehicle’s safety ratings are one of the most important factors to consider when purchasing a first car. Safety ratings are obtained through rigorous testing of the vehicle’s safety systems and through crash testing.

The excellent safety ratings received by the Volkswagen Golf are something that many people are pleased to learn that they are getting when they use this vehicle.

6) Driver Assist Features

A great benefit to the Volkswagen Golf is that it has driver-assist features that help to correct human errors and other issues that can arise while driving. Some of the driver’s assistance features offered by the Golf are:

  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Active Blind Spot Monitoring
  • Drive IQ
  • Lane Assist
  • Dynamic Roadsign Display
  • Parking Distance Control
  • Light Assist


Overall, the Volkswagen Golf has proven to be a good first car for many new drivers as the upsides far outweigh the downsides. If you intend to own the Golf for decades, you may need to consider the long-term availability of OEM parts in the future.

Outside of that, the Golf is an excellent choice for a first car that should safely and reliability get your new driver around for many years into the future. 

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