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Is the VW Golf still all the car you'll ever need? We take a closer look at what else is available to see if this still holds true in 2022.

04 Jul 2022

For the longest time, the answer to the question, "What is the one car that's all the car you'll ever need?" was a pretty straightforward one - the Volkswagen Golf.

Why? Because it just ticked all the necessary boxes. The styling is timeless, the car is spacious enough for a family of five, it is still small enough to be easy to drive and live with, the overall quality is premium enough, it delivers a good enough level of driving engagement, it was reasonably efficient, and it ultimately still sits at the slightly more affordable end of the price spectrum.

The Golf was the consummate do everything car. It may not do any one thing spectacularly, but it does everything well. But, is that still the case is 2022? One notable thing to consider is that the Golf is now strictly a Cat B COE model, and that comes with a higher COE cost. Let us use the mid-trim Life Plus variant as a pricing benchmark (the base model is out of stock currently), and see what else you can, or perhaps should, buy for $175,900 (as of 30 Jun 2022).

Some of the key specifications:

Volkswagen Golf Mild Hybrid 1.5 Life Plus

The Golf is a car that just ticks all the right boxes
Price: $175,900
Power: 148bhp, 250Nm of torque
0-100km/h: 8.5s
Fuel Economy: 20.8km/L
Wheelbase: 2,619mm
Boot space: 380 litres

The alternative options, sorted by price:

Hyundai Ioniq Electric

The Ioniq is an all electric alternative that promises lower running costs over time
Price: $160,888
Power: 134bhp, 295Nm of torque
0-100km/h: 10.2s
Fuel Economy: 8.5km/kWh
Wheelbase: 2,700mm
Boot space: 357 litres

This is an all electric alternative. It's slightly cheaper to buy, will be cheaper to run in terms of fuel costs (electricity costs less than petrol right now), and maintenance should also be cheaper considering there are fewer parts that need regular servicing. Quality-wise, it's not quite at the Golf's level, but that's a trade-off some might make for lower overall running costs.

Toyota Corolla Altis Hybrid

The Altis Hybrid promises excellent fuel economy with unflappable reliability
Price: $169,888
Power: 121bhp, 142Nm of torque
0-100km/h: Not stated
Fuel Economy: 22.7km/L
Wheelbase: 2,700mm
Boot space: 470 litres

Ah, the Corolla Altis, the most bread-and-butter car of them all. But, this is the Hybrid variant, which means that you get more equipment, but also the 1.8-litre hybrid powertrain that has stellar fuel efficiency. You don't get quite the same performance as the Golf, but one thing you can certainly count on is the car's reliability. 

Mazda CX-30

The CX-30 is a crossover that's stylish both inside and out
Price: $173,888
Power: 162bhp, 213Nm of torque
0-100km/h: 9.7s
Fuel Economy: 15.2km/L
Wheelbase: 2,655mm
Boot space: 430 litres

For close to the same money, you could go for the Mazda CX-30. Overall quality is quite comparable, and the generous use of soft leathers means that it is perhaps even slightly more luxurious-feeling inside. Of course, the crossover bodystyle is also much more in vogue these days. Size-wise it's fairly comparable to the Golf, though you have slightly more boot space.

Skoda Octavia Combi Mild Hybrid

The Octavia Combi provides ample family-friendly practicality without compromising overall drive quality
Price: $185,900
Power: 148bhp, 250Nm of torque
0-100km/h: 8.6s
Fuel Economy: 20.8km/L
Wheelbase: 2,686mm
Boot space: 640 litres

A fraction more expensive, but you get a heavy dose of extra practicality. The wagon bodystyle means a gigantic and easily accessible boot (68% more than the Golf). Performance is pretty much the same as the Golf, as it uses the same powertrain, though the extra heft means 0-100km/h is fractionally slower. It doesn't drive as sharp as the Golf, but still handles itself pretty well. Does it help that the Octavia Combi looks fantastic? Most certainly.

BMW 1 Series Hatchback

Thanks to a downtuned engine, the 1 Series can be attained with a Cat A COE, making it an appealing premium choice
Price: $189,888
Power: 107bhp, 190Nm of torque
0-100km/h: 10.6s
Fuel Economy: 18.2km/L
Wheelbase: 2,670mm
Boot space: 380 litres

If you are willing to stretch your budget, you could opt for a premium badge. The 1 Series 116i is a Cat A car, so COE is cheaper, but it is down on power and performance. The upside, of course, is that you are getting a BMW badge. And that counts for something, surely. The interior is more upmarket and high-tech, and it also drives well. It's probably not the best-looking car on this list, but it's got arguably the most sought-after badge of this lot.

What's the choice, then? 

The Octavia Combi delivers just about everything you want out of a Golf, yet is even more practical and arguably better-looking
So, is the Volksagen Golf still the most obvious choice at its pricepoint? As far as striking an overall balance between performance, equipment, quality and price, I think the Golf is still a compelling choice. What it loses out in outright space and practicality to some other cars, it makes up for in performance and an elevated sense of quality.

Except, there's a car that does all that, and a little more. And that's the Skoda Octavia Combi. Yes, it's functionally a Golf underneath and a lot of the equipment is similar, but the extra practicality is hard to overlook. And, I also happen to think it's the best-looking car of this lot. While the Golf is still certainly all the car you might ever need, I think the Octavia Combi is better. It's the one I'd have.

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volkswagen  vw  golf  vw golf  skoda  octavia  cx-30  ioniq  altis  1 series