26th Oct 2005, 15:19

I had the choice a couple of years ago and ditched my company Ford Focus for a Golf GTI diesel (150 Bhp ): it was fantastic. At 44 I was a boy racer all over again. I am mow on my 2nd Mark V diesel. Averaging 40,000+ miles a year, I have found these cars to be very reliable, with no failures to report other than the cooling fans, which were replaced on my last Mark V at 35,000 miles. I find handling on the Mark V to be superior to the Peugeot 406 and Ford Focus, which I sometimes have to drive and much quieter at high speed and very comfortable on long journeys. Fuel economy is about equal to the Focus and more than the Peugeot. I miss the plastic wood from my first GTI diesel from a fews ago, but find the resale value of my Golf's compared to a Ford as very welcome. I can always sell a VW Golf and having checked out a BMW 1 Series and a Mercedes B-Class, I now look forward to my third Golf which is great value for money compared to the others.

27th Oct 2005, 02:34

Some very good comments above, but it's worth remembering in relation to the Focus that Ford didn't offer a diesel version with anything like the 150 bhp of your Golf. Therefore you should really compare like for like.

Re the Focus and Golf debate, I reckon the two cars have now merged into clones of each other. In mk1 guise the Focus was a lithe, agile drivers car which substituted the Golf's refinement, soft feel plastics and expensive looking interior for lightness, feedback and driver enjoyment. Although a very well built and reliable car, it looked cheap in places and perceived quality was not in the same league as the Golf.

In going to the mk2, Ford are clearly chasing Golf buyers. The interior is of a quality previously unseen on a Ford, and the noise levels are massively reduced over the mk1. It also has decent seats (at last!). Unfortunately, it's also gained 200kg or so in the process which means the handling, although still good, is blunted over the original.

The Golf has kind of gone the other way. The mk4 was a soft, comfy, nicely trimmed, lazy kind of car which didn't handle badly, but wasn't exactly an enthusiasts car either. The mk5 is sharper, more agile and has better feel, but has also lost the classy interior and detail touches that made the mk4 special just to sit in.

Both cars have met somewhere in the middle, and what we effectively have now are different badged versions of the same thing. Both very competent, both brilliant all rounders, but also both have lost the key strengths of their predecessors. I thought it was better when we had a choice, and was delighted with my mk1 Focus. Now I could choose either and know that the other wouldn't do anything significantly differently. A bit of a shame to be honest.

As for reliability comparisons, the Focus I'm afraid beats pretty much any non-Japanese comparison. Which? rated it as excellent, the German ADAC declared it the outright winner in a survey last year, and it has beaten the Golf (and most of its other rivals) in the Top Gear Survey each year. Mine did 105,000 miles and didn't need anything other than servicing, d tyres and two headlight bulbs.

22nd Nov 2005, 13:37

I've had our Mk4 Golf TDi for 7 years, its used every day, day in day out. Its had.

1 electric mirror motor

1 relay (3 weeks after new)

1 Mass air sensor.

Pretty good I would have thought.

6th Dec 2005, 06:46

I drive a 2001 VW Golf TDI 115 Estate and it's an absolute joy. I would agree that it doesn't like corners much, but it encourages more relaxed driving. The engine is incredible, second gear, foot to the floor, is great fun and you can leave most people standing. Also being a diesel it has a very low first gear to over come the turbo lag (which is noticeable below 1500rpm), but this makes it very nippy around town, great for getting onto roundabouts quickly.

The power does tail off above 3600rpm, but I almost never venture that far as you simply don't need to. Especially as the gear shift is light and easy to use. One niggle though - does anyone think that the Mark 4 steering wheel is a little too big? Having driven a focus, I found the steering wheel a nicer size in the ford.

Brakes are nice - they feel really strong, and bite nice and early unlike the focus, where I found you had to press the brake pedal harder and it was more progressive, which I don't like. You do feel like there is always a lot under your right foot whether you want to go faster or slower.

So far (touch wood) we have not had anything go wrong with the car, though for some reason the rear electric window stopped working for a while, but now it works fine.

The interior is a lovely place to be, and the boot, though not as big as say a focus estate, is a good shape with almost no intrusions. Having driven a new Mark 5 Golf, the interior is definitely better on the Mark 4. The Mark 5 has lost some of the quality of the previous model. It just doesn't feel so tight, unlike my car which still feels like new after 4 years and 30,000 miles.

1st Feb 2006, 15:31

I've just ordered a MK V Golf 2.0 Tdi as my new company car. I've run a Passat Tdi Sport estate for the last 18 months and really liked it. After testing various cars including the new Civic I decided on the Golf.

I like that fact that its fairly plain - its understated. Also despite a very bland interior it is functional and it works well. The controls are laid out well and its pretty simply. Nothing much to distract you.

What I noticed about the two I've driven so far (1.9 SE Tdi DSG and 2.0 GT Tdi) is that the ride is very good. The GT is a lot sportier, but both ride well (the Civic is a bit too firm for British roads). The 1.9 with the DSG is fairly quick, but quite refined. The 2.0 GT Tdi is VERY quick - huge torque and handles exceptionally well with its lowered suspension. It never felt crashy and I tested it over a particularly nasty road in Surrey (Horseley to Ranmore if you know it - lots of dips, adverse cambers, twists and crappy tarmac) and it worked very well. The 2.0 diesel is quite noisy and coarse, but road noise isn't bad.

The main reason I didn't choose the Civic is because it is a very noisy car. The engine is more refined that the Golf, but the road noise is unacceptable in a modern car. Its such a shame as it marrs what is an exceptionally good car. Yes the Golf has a noisy engine, but once cruising you can't hear it, but road noise can't be got rid of.

Golf build quality seemed good, but its true that some of the plastics used in the MK5 are a lot cheaper than the Mk4. However what would you prefer - nice plastic or a decent ride with great handling? I know what works for me.

I'll post a proper review when I get it!