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Car brand reviews

Should I buy a Volkswagen car?

By Martin Pratt

Article 23 of 24

Volkswagen is a huge brand globally, but do its recent problems mean you should buy or avoid VW cars? Find out in our expert overview.

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Volkswagen has traditionally enjoyed an enviable reputation as a trustworthy manufacturer of high-quality cars. That reputation was shattered in 2015 by the ‘dieselgate’ emissions scandal, in which the company admitted it had cheated official tests. 

The fallout of the scandal has been far reaching. The 'cheat' means that certain diesel-powered VW cars built between 2009 and 2015 may be more polluting than official figures suggest and could be recalled. Please refer to our guide to find out how to check if your car is affected.

Scandal aside, VW offers a very wide range of models to suit most needs and budgets, including petrol, electric and hybrid models. Some of the world's best-known names are to be found here - family favourites like the Golf, Polo and Passat, for instance, as well as some newer models such as the Up city car and Tiguan crossover 4x4. If you're considering buying a VW, the annual Which? Car Survey reveals the truth about the brand's reliability and owner satisfaction.

To see how all the Volkswagen cars we've tested scored head straight to our Volkswagen car reviews.

How much do Volkswagen cars cost?

Volkswagen has a long-established reputation for making superior cars, and the company prices its models to match. In the VW Group portfolio, Volkswagen sits above Skoda and Seat, but below Audi. For instance, the VW Golf undercuts the Audi A3 (with which it shares much of its DNA) on price but is more expensive than its other sister model, the Skoda Octavia.

Generally speaking, VWs hold their value better than mainstream brands such as Vauxhall and Ford, which means you should lose less money over your time of ownership. On the flipside, Volkswagens can be rather expensive second-hand buys. 

Choosing the best Volkswagen car

The name Volkswagen means 'people's car' in German and the company certainly has most of the popular market niches covered. From the ultra-compact Up city car to the gigantic Touareg 4x4, VW boasts a remarkably complete range of models. The Golf easily remains VW's bestselling model and its touchstone product, although the smaller Polo offers much of what the Golf can do for less money. Even the tiny Up is a strong contender.

Volkswagen is expanding its hybrid and electric car offerings, too, notably with its GTE plug-in hybrid models like the Golf GTE and Passat GTE. There's also the full-electric e-Up and e-Golf. If you're after a bigger car with extra practicality, the Tiguan, Passat Estate and Golf SV are there to tempt you. And niche cars like the iconic Beetle and convertible Golf Cabriolet add a sporty touch to VW's range.