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1 October 2020

Should I buy a Volkswagen?

Volkswagen is a huge brand globally, but after its ‘dieselgate’ problems should you buy or avoid VW cars? Find out in our expert overview.
VW Golf
Oliver Trebilcock

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 Group cars built between 2009 and 2015 may be more polluting than official figures suggest and may be subject to recall. 

Scandal aside, VW offers a very wide range of models and fuel types to suit most needs and budgets. Some of the world's best-known names are to be found here. VW’s bestselling family favourites include the Golf, Polo and Passat.

The Up city car is VW’s entry-level model, while crossover SUV 4x4 models include the Tiguan, T-Roc and Touareg. As for MPVs, the Touran provides seating for seven.

But are VW cars reliable? Keep reading to find out.

To see how Volkswagen's cars perform in our tough tests, head straight to our Volkswagen car reviews.

VW Golf


How reliable are Volkswagen cars? 

Every year, we run an annual car survey where tens of thousands of people tell us about their current car and how reliable it is. Based on feedback from current Volkswagen owners, we have reliability data for new cars aged up to three years old, and also cars aged between three and eight years old. 

Which? members can log in and use the table below to find out just how reliable Volkswagen cars really are. Not yet a Which? member? Join Which? to unlock all of our reliability ratings and our online reviews.

Volkswagen car reliability
  Ratings and review
0-3 year

Member content
3-8 year

Member content

Member content

Table notes

We surveyed online 47,013 members of the general public covering 55,833 cars. Survey in field December 2019 to February 2020.

Find out how the reliability of Volkswagen compares to its rivals – check our car brand reliability tool.

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.

Yet it’s firmly in the mainstream. The VW Up starts at below £10,000, for instance. The Golf is priced from well below £20,000.

Generally speaking, VWs hold their value better than cars from 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.

Can you trust Volkswagen cars? Find out - we reveal the most reliable car brands.

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 Volkswagen 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 Volkswagen Polo offers much of what the Golf can do for less money, and there's the Volkswgagen T-Cross small SUV as well (pictured above). 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 such as the Golf GTE and Volkswagen Passat GTE. There's also the full-electric Volkswagen e-Up and Volkswagen e-Golf.

If you're after a bigger car with extra practicality, the Tiguan, Passat Estate and Golf SV are there to tempt you. 

Niche cars, such as the iconic VW Beetle and Volkswagen Arteon ‘coupe-saloon’, add a sporty touch to VW's range.

Now you know more about Volkswagen, find out how its cars perform in our tough, independent lab and road tests. See all our our Volkswagen car reviews.

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