Used 2000 Volkswagen Golf Hatchback Review
A fun-to-drive hatchback with plenty of features for the price you pay.
We've always liked the Golf, a fun-to-drive, chunky-but-spunky hatchback that has been a bestseller in Europe for more than two decades. Here in the States, the fourth-generation Golf does battle against a range of compacts, most of them with far less sporting credentials. Last year, the Golf received a complete redesign, which brought smoother exterior styling, considerably more standard equipment, a roomier cabin with more upscale materials and an extremely fuel-efficient diesel four-cylinder (TDI). This year, Volkswagen introduces a 150-horsepower turbocharged inline four for GLS buyers who crave more power.
The Golf is available as a two-door GL or a four-door GLS; GL buyers can choose between two engines, while GLS buyers now have three options. The base engine for both the GL and GLS is a 115-horsepower 2.0-liter inline four available with either a manual or automatic. Despite the engine's modest output, fuel economy is nothing to write home about -- 24 mpg city/31 mpg highway with a manual versus 22/28 with an automatic. Instead, long-distance commuters will want to check out the available 1.9-liter turbocharged direct injection (TDI) diesel four-cylinder, which is rated at 42/49 with a manual and 34/45 with an automatic. Although the TDI is low on horsepower (just 90), its 155 lb-ft of torque at just 1,900 rpm will ensure that your Golf has plenty of pep for urban duty. This engine is also available for both the GL and GLS.
For Golf GLS buyers seeking added performance without giving up the practicality of four doors, VW offers a 1.8-liter turbocharged inline four worthy of 150 horsepower and 155 pound-feet of torque from 1,950 to 4,500 rpm. Again, buyers may choose either a manual or automatic (fuel economy ratings are identical to those of the base 2.0-liter four). Despite a small amount of turbo lag early on, the 1.8T generally feels faster than it is thanks to its long, flat torque band and calm demeanor.
All Golfs come with a long list of standard features; even the GL models include side-impact airbags; four-wheel antilock disc brakes; air conditioning (with a pollen filter); an eight-speaker cassette stereo; a tilt/telescoping steering wheel; keyless entry with an anti-theft alarm; heated mirrors; daytime running lights; 15-inch wheels and tires; and a 60/40-split folding rear seat with a headrest and a three-point seatbelt in all three seating positions (note that the GL TDI model also comes with cruise control). Besides an automatic transmission, options for the GL include alloy wheels and a dealer-installed CD player or changer.
If you choose the GLS, you'll also get power windows (with one-touch operation for the front windows), power mirrors, an adjustable front center armrest with storage, velour upholstery and cruise control as standard equipment. Note that the GLS Turbo also comes with VW's Anti-Slip Regulation -- traction control, that is. Alloy wheels and the CD changer are also on the options list for the GLS; other extras include a premium Monsoon sound system, a moonroof and seat heaters. All Golfs come with an impressive 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, though the 2-year/24,000-mile basic coverage could certainly stand improvement.
Consumers will be impressed by Golf's structural rigidity, which not only provides a solid, quiet body with precise gaps between the doors and body panels, but an overall feeling of quality. It all rides on a front MacPherson strut/rear torsion-beam suspension. This setup not only provides the most comfortable ride of any compact car on the market today, but also succeeds in communicating with the driver, such that the Golf is a lot more fun in corners than your average Honda Civic.
Inside, the instrument panel is stylish yet functional, and Volkswagen's attention to detail is immediately evident, given the high-quality textured plastics used throughout the cabin and tight build quality. The analog gauges are backlit in blue with vibrant red pointers; the company wanted this combination to be marque-specific, noting that these are the same colors used by international air traffic on airfields at night. Seats are firm and supportive, and owners will have 18 cubic feet of cargo space at their disposal, even with the rear seats in use. If you need more space, you can fold down the 60/40-split rear bench to create a flat load floor.
Whether you're swayed by the long list of standard features, the upscale cabin accommodations, the frugality of the TDI engine, the spunk of the 1.8T or some combination of these, we would encourage you to test-drive a Golf when shopping for your next affordable compact.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.