VW Mark V Golf – A great do it all car from the mid-noughties!
Here we have the Volkswagen (VW) Mark 5 Golf 1.9 TDi for review. For some people we have spoken to it is one of their favourite older versions of the Golf and to others they prefer the Mark 4 believing that it was the last definitive Golf like Golf but to us we can only form an opinion on what we have in front of us as we haven’t really tried out a Mark 4 Golf so if you are a used car dealership who wouldn’t mind us having a go of a Mark 4 Golf, filming our opinion and writing about it then please get in touch with us at [email protected]
Released back in 2004, this version of the Golf was a big step up from the Mk 4 Golf in terms of performance, road manners and interior look and feel and to us it’s a definite firm favourite. It had updates to the suspension from the previous model, was a little bigger than the Mk 4 and the chassis was slightly tuned to give it a better driving experience over the previous Golf model. It was also offered in different models such as the Estate, the Plus – which was a taller MPV type version of the Golf, GT, GTI and of course the highly performing R32.
VW also made other model variants of the VW Mk5 Golf to be springboarded off the platform which would be later known as the VW Jetta, a saloon version of the Golf; and the VW Eos, which was a hard-top convertible based on the Mk 5 Golf platform.
There was a comprehensive range of engines to choose from which ranged from 1.4 petrol engines through to fuel-sipping diesels finally ending at the high-performance R32’s 3.2 litre petrol engine. Finally, as well as a raft of industry awards the Mk5 Golf also received a five star NCAP rating.
A good looking car from all angles we feel that its a design that has matured well as it has got older and as the years go by we believe that more desirable versions of the Mk 5 Golf, such as the R32 and the GTi models will be future classics so it might be worth holding onto one if you do own one as we can see these going up in price.
Stepping into the car and closing the driver’s door you notice that straightaway you are aware of the car’s Germanic engineering. We were driving a 2007 plate Citroen C3 before the Volkswagen Golf and the sound of the VW Mk5 Golf’s door closing was night and day. The Citroen was just tinny and low-rent whereas the Golf was more of a quality thud which filled you with a confidence that you were in a car that was better engineered and obviously more expensive in comparison, well you do tend to get what you pay for.
Scanning the interior you note that the car is well screwed together on the inside. All interior materials in the VW Golf have a high quality feel about them. From the soft material lined door pockets, which help dampen sound if you have anything loose stored in them, through to the quality of the leather steering wheel you can totally understand why Golfs have that desirability factor about them.
The cabin is light and airy plus it is spacious, making it ideal as a vehicle to transport your family about. As well as generous legroom in the front there is also a fair amount of legroom and headroom in the back and on long journeys when sat in the back you can only be thankful for this, especially when you compare the same 400 mile trip from a Mk7 2010 Fiesta to a Golf then that extra room in the back is a must.
The seats in the front are comfortable and the model we are writing about here had the added bonus of lumbar support which is a great plus when embarking on those long trips up and down the country. In the back, you can sit three adults but as with most cars, that transmission tunnel can make it a bit of a squeeze.
Storage wise the boot is ample for a well-travelled family and the only issue you may have if you use this car to lug about longer items and you need the seats to fold down, then unfortunately, they do not fold down totally flat and will have a slight ridge to them. The boot also sports little handle points either side of the boot, where you can hold your shopping bags upright which stops them from moving about the boot area when driving. The boot area also has a 12v socket point where you can plugin various items such as those important charging cables to allow people in the back to charge or use their devices.
There are other storage areas in the cabin of this Golf which does give it a practical edge. With well-sized door pockets, a generous glove box and even a sunglasses stowage area there are plenty of places to store your nicknacks if needed.
Moving onto the dashboard of the car. Its styling is very sober and precise. All the switchgear is where you would expect it to be and above all easy to get to and operate. The instrumentation is easy to read and understand and has been designed to be simple in its approach. It has the added advantage of a trip computer which allows you to cycle through the miles per gallon used, how many miles you have left in the fuel tank and so on but the only issue that we noticed with this part of the instrumentation was then when it was a hot day or you had the heaters on for a while and the cabin gets quite warm then a part of the trip computer instrumentation seems to disappear. Reading online about this issue you do understand that this is a common problem for a Mk 5 Golf of its age, which is going on 12 years old, but we didn’t find it an issue large enough to hamper the experience of driving this car.
Driving this car at night the dashboard and driving instrumentation glows a stunning blue and red which we have always loved in these cars and I am sure isn’t replicated in newer versions of the Golf, which is a shame.
Turning the key and firing up the 1.9 TDi diesel engine (we had the BXE version of it) we didn’t find it to be too noisy or off-putting and once you were driving at speed we found it to be a noise that was easily consigned to the background as we didn’t find that we needed to talk at a higher volume and if anything we didn’t really notice it after a while unless you were accelerating to overtake on the motorway or away from the lights.
On the road when driving this vehicle the word that springs to mind is solid. In simple terms, the Volkswagen Golf Mk5 is a car that is just great to drive. On the motorway when it is cruising at the national speed limit it is comfortable, quiet, stable and unruffled. It feels like this car could easily cruise at this speed all day if need be and for a twelve-year-old car then this is simply testament to how well built the VW Golf Mk5 is and especially if you have the model variant we are driving which is the Sport version with 6 gears then when you engage that sixth gear you are allowing the economical TDi engine to kick back and sip fuel at a sometimes astonishing 60 miles per gallon.
On ‘B’ roads the Golf Mk5 when driven spiritedly doesn’t disappoint and when you go down a gear and put your foot down the surge of acceleration from that 1.9 TDi engine is equally impressive and does leave you with a smile on your face.
While we have mentioned how much we have liked the VW Golf MK5 TDi there are a few slight negatives that you do need to be aware of if you are in the market for one of these vehicles. The front wheel arches do tend to rust or show signs of rust and if you have a look around when you are next out you will notice how many Mk 5 Golfs have been affected by this.
Other issues you may find are Air Con related where basically it doesn’t work on some models of the Mk V Golf and this is down to the inferior parts that were used during the manufacturing process. It is worth checking to make sure that the Air Conditioning does work if you are looking at purchasing a Golf even in winter as it can be a very costly fix (you might also notice on a hot day how many Mk5 Golfs have their windows down which can be due to the fact that their air con simply isn’t working).
There are also turbo issues that can arise where the veins in the turbo housing can get gunked up due to low mileage driving and that can affect the turbos operation making the car go into limp mode which can be a scary experience especially when you are driving at speed on a motorway. There are a few other issues that face the Golf Mk 5 which can be found on Honest John’s website which is well worth reading about if you are thinking about buying one of these https://www.honestjohn.co.uk/carbycar/volkswagen/golf-v-2004/?section=good
To summarise the Volkswagen Golf Mk5 is a great car. It’s practical, great to drive and not too expensive to run and for a car that is twelve years old, we don’t think that the one we drove is showing any signs of giving up which is a great testament to its well-engineered construction. As with all cars the VW Mk5 Golf does have its problems and if you are thinking of including this in your next car purchase choice (we would highly recommend you try one out) then it goes without saying that if you can get a mechanic to look it over or make sure it is covered with a decent warranty then that may help you pick out a decent one.
To end this article we totally get why the Golf is a desirable car to own and drive and if you get one that has been looked after and well serviced then in our opinion it is a car that would serve you well for many years to come and you may find hard to give up.
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If you own or run a car dealership and would like us to do a review feature on your cars on both our YouTube channel and here on the website then we would love to hear from you! We review used cars as well as new. You can get in touch with us via email at [email protected] or via the form on our Contact Us page.