Volkswagen Golf GTI review - Reliability and safety

Exceptional levels of safety equipment and a top Euro NCAP rating should prove reassuring for Golf GTI buyers

Volkswagen has built its reputation on producing reliable family cars, and the Golf is still the brand’s best-selling model in the UK. The GTI should be no different, as it uses the same basic MQB chassis as the previous Mk7 model and the VW Group’s tried and tested EA888 2.0-litre turbocharged, four-cylinder engine.

Although VW enjoys healthy sales in the UK, it hasn’t performed particularly well in our Driver Power customer satisfaction survey over the last few years. The German brand finished 17th out of 30 manufacturers in the 2021 Driver Power poll, while the Golf placed 73rd on a 75-car list. Other models were rated more highly; the Tiguan SUV in 62nd spot, the Polo supermini in 48th and the Golf-based T-Roc in 24th position.

Industry crash test body Euro NCAP tested the Golf in 2019 and awarded it a top five-star rating, with scores of 95% for adult occupant protection and 89% for child passenger safety.  It also added a further ‘Advanced’ grading, due to the standard fitting of its hazard alert Car2X system.

Safety kit onboard the Golf GTI is excellent. In the unfortunate event of a collision, there are front, side and curtain airbag systems in place to help prevent injury, while VW’s automatic post-collision braking function brings the vehicle to a stop to try and avert a secondary impact.

Other driver assistance features include driver fatigue detection and Lane Assist with Road Edge Recognition, along with a Travel Assist system which utilises camera and radar sensors to allow partially assisted driving, as long as the driver keeps their hands in contact with the capacitive touch sensitive steering wheel. The Side Assist and Rear traffic alert use radar technology to monitor approaching vehicles.

The Emergency Assist function intervenes if it detects no driver input: if the driver has no contact with the capacitive touch-sensitive steering wheel for 10 seconds, then the system activates visual and audible warnings along with a braking jolt. If there is still no response, the hazard lights are activated and the vehicle is automatically slowed and steered into the left-hand lane, bringing it to a controlled stop – traffic behind permitting.


Volkswagen offers the Golf with an industry standard 3-year/60,000-mile warranty, with an option to extend the cover at extra cost.


Customers are offered a choice of how their Golf GTI is maintained, with fixed and flexible servicing options available. These relate to mileage covered, driving style and whether the vehicle is regularly producing high engine loading due to activities such as frequent hill climbs, driving with the vehicle fully loaded or towing.

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