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Volkswagen Reviews

The Beetle, as designed in 1938, was simply known as the Volkswagen ('people’s car'); the company set up to  produce it also adopted the same name. The durable simplicity of Volkswagen’s products – the Beetle and the Type 2 bus/van/camper series especially – made the marque phenomenally successful across the globe.

It took until the mid-1970s for VW’s reliance on the Beetle to end, but it enjoyed similar universal acclaim with the handsome Golf replacement. Subsequent models have enjoyed similar glory. Volkswagen today is a large  conglomerate, owning Audi, Skoda, Seat, Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini, with a reputation for quality and  reliability.

Good: All the Beetle's good points, such as brilliant parts and specialist support, good visibility, roomy interior
Bad: Lost some of its design purity
Good: Charismatic engine note, excellent build quality
Bad: All of the Beetle's drawbacks, but only marginally improved
Good: All the good aspects of the original Beetle, but you can see out of the back
Bad: Still glacially slow, even if it could cruise at its maximum all day long
Good: Early Beetles are so simplistic in their charms, reliable, faithful, great social scene and club support, cheap to run
Bad: Rust, poor heater, glacial performance, too many fakes
Good: Much improved performance and visibility, cheaper and better value than early cars. Excellent traction in snow and rough conditions.
Bad: Still slow and asthmatic
Good: Proper brakes for the first time, the best performance yet
Bad: Padded dashboard and larger lights less visually appealing
Good: The best mid-sized coupe of its era, and probably best of all in the lowliest 16V version - which is good as theses are still the cheapest to buy
Bad: VR6 engines have some known issues
Good: Invented the family hatchback as we know it today, good to drive, easy to own, practical
Bad: Cramped, rusty, difficult to find in standard form
Good: Almost as good to drive as a Golf GTI - and that's praise enough
Bad: Hood down, you have very little rear visibility
Good: Brilliant to drive, great performance, and utterly classless
Bad: Poor brakes, potential for rust
Good: The definitive 1980s hatchback, sold, well made, practical and reliable
Bad: ...and just a little bit dull
Good: Excellent performance from 16V, all models have a good performance/economy balance, drives brilliantly out of town, great build quality, longevity and reliability
Bad: Heavy steering in cars without PAS, getting a bit faddish, so many cars have been modified - check they've been done properly.
Good: Golf status, VR6 the best.
Bad: Flexes and rattles. Not as good as Mk II.
Good: Comfortable ride, good quality interior, feels solid and durable, very cheap to run TDI diesels, strong image means it will always be sought after.
Bad: Huge number of quality problems in direct contradiction to "Few things in life are as reliable as a Volkswagen" slogan, Ford Focus is better to drive.
Good: Fast, surefooted and safe. Handles well. One of the best exhaust notes you'll ever hear.
Bad: Restricted supply, which kept prices high. An Evo VII and Impreza WRX STI have sharper responses.
Good: Just as good to drive as a Mk1 Volkswagen Golf, the boot is enormous for such a small car
Bad: Ugly in comparison with the original Mk1 Golf
Good: Based on Golf but handles better and rattles less, 139bhp GTi 16v is very quick, still relatively cheap to buy
Bad: Lacks image and hatchback of a Golf, rust and other age-related problems are taking a hold now, but still much stronger than equivalent products from Ford and Vauxhall
Good: Square-rigged styling looks timeless, good to drive and to steer
Bad: Rare, and hard to find parts for, but that situation is changing...
Good: Good looks, cool image, easily tuned, all the usual Beetle advantages of a great scene and specialist support
Bad: Not as fast as it looks, even in late 1.6-litre form
Good: Rare and well equipped
Bad: Styling is an acquired taste
Good: Economical, easy to park, quite refined and well built.
Bad: A Seat Arosa does it all for less money. The 1.0 is painfully slow.
Good: Evocative styling and Golf MkIV underpinnings. Better handling from 2002 model year onwards. V5 is a hoot to drive.
Bad: Cramped rear seats and limited luggage room. Difficult to park. You pay a premium for its looks. Dull drive before 2002 model year.
Good: Neat and tidy to drive, practical and reasonably quick
Bad: Rusted like a 1970s Alfa Romeo
Good: Far better handling than the previous version, generous space for people and cargo in the estate, TDI 90 the most sensible choice.
Bad: Saloon has a frumpy image, reports of stretched timing chains on VR6s.
Good: Roomy, no frills transport, gaining some classic kudos
Bad: Efficient, but dull, heavy steering, poor gearchange
Good: Economical, smooth and practical
Bad: Rust, hard to find parts for
Good: Solid and practical, amazing G40 is brilliant to drive
Bad: Rust and many now falling prey to the modifiers
Good: Italian styling, willing engines, great handling
Bad: Rust and fragility
Good: Great to drive, 16V GTX model an absolute peach
Bad: Cramped, and although better protected than the Mk1 it can rot
Good: Cool, usable and highly versatile
Bad: Rust is an issue, restoration is not straightforward
Good: Roomy, simple, elegant, and a lifestyle choice
Bad: Slow and wobbly without modifications
Good: Fine road manners. Grips and handles well. Stacked full of kit.
Bad: You'll pay for its pace at the pumps and in CO2-related taxes.
Good: Plushly equipped, refined luxury saloon that tries to tilt at the S-Class, 7 Series. Formed basis of Bentley Continental.
Bad: Plain looks. Transmission bogs down at slower speeds. Loses value quickly from new. Not as good as an S-Class, 7 Series, XJ or A8.
Good: Booted Golf Mk III. Cheap, roomy, sensible and underrated. TDI is frugal and no slouch. VR6 is very quick.
Bad: Expect many components to be wearing out now. VR6s are quite scarce.

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