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Cars & travel.

24 September 2021

Should I buy a Volkswagen?

Volkswagen is known for its ever-popular models, such as the VW Golf, and is now reinventing itself with its ID range of electric cars. It’s a huge brand globally, but does that make VW the car brand you should choose? Find out in our expert overview.
Oliver Trebilcock

VW offers a very wide range of models and engine types to suit most budgets and needs, and produces some of the world's best-known cars. Bestselling family favourites include the Golf, Polo and Passat. Crossover and SUV models include the T-Roc, Tiguan and Touareg.

And now its new ID all-electric car range is broadening that appeal. VW says its ID.3 hatchback defines the brand’s new era, following on from the famous VW Beetle of the 1930s and Golf in the 1970s. And its ID.4 electric crossover taps into the current popularity of SUVs.

Volkswagen’s reputation is recovering following the 2015 ‘dieselgate’ scandal, when the company admitted it had cheated official emissions tests. The 'cheat' means that certain diesel-powered cars built between 2009 and 2015 might be more polluting than official figures suggest and may be subject to recall – so bear this in mind if buying a used Volkswagen Group car (that includes Audi, Seat and Skoda, as well as VW).

Dieselgate aside, are VW cars really as reliable as its reputation might suggest? We have the definitive answer - keep reading to find out.

To see how Volkswagen's cars perform in our professional lab and road tests, head straight to our Volkswagen car reviews.

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 to unlock the table below Not a member? Join Which? to unlock all of our reliability ratings and our independent online car reviews.

 Volkswagen car reliability
Ratings and review
0-3-year
reliability
3-8-year
reliability
Reliability review

Table notes: Online, we surveyed 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 with its rivals – go to car brand reliability .

How much do Volkswagen cars cost?

Volkswagen‘s long-established reputation for making superior cars – a reputation our expert Volkswagen car reviews put to the test – means its models are priced a little above average. 

In the VW Group portfolio of brands: 

For instance, the VW Golf undercuts the Audi A3 on price (even though it shares much of its DNA), but is more expensive than its other sister model, the Skoda Octavia.

Yet VW is firmly in the mainstream. Its entry-level VW Up starts at around £12,500, for instance. The Golf is priced from around £22,000.

The VW ID.3 electric hatchback is priced from around £32,000, slightly more than its all-electric rival, the Nissan Leaf, which costs from around £28,500. The ID.3 is still much cheaper than the more upmarket Tesla Model 3 (£40,500).

Generally speaking, VWs hold their value better than cars from mainstream brands such as Vauxhall and Ford. Which means, if you choose a VW, the car should hold more of its value over your period of ownership.

On the flipside, Volkswagens can be rather expensive second-hand buys.

Want to know more about how to get the best price when buying a car? See exclusive tips from our experts on how to get the best price on a car.

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. 

Whatever you’re looking for, from the ultra-compact Up city car to the gigantic Volkswagen Touareg 4x4, VW boasts a remarkably complete range of models.

The VW Golf easily remains VW's bestselling model, although the smaller VW Polo offers much of what the Golf can do for less money. Its SUV range starts with the very small Volkswgagen T-Cross and slightly larger Volkswagen T-Roc. Its smallest car is the Volkswagen Up.

If you're after a bigger car with extra practicality, the popular Tiguan SUV, as well as the Passat Estate and Golf SV, are there to tempt you. The Touran MPV provides seating for seven.

Its saloon car is the VW Passat. For niche interests, there's the upmarket Volkswagen Arteon, a saloon with a tapering coupé roofline, which adds a sporty touch to VW's range.

Hybrid and electric Volkswagen cars

After discontinuing the VW e-Golf and the VW e-Up, Volkswagen isn’t following some other brands in offering hybrid and electric versions of the same car. Instead, it’s preferring to build electric cars from the ground up.

VW's electric cars are separated out as a distinct line-up of cars badged ‘ID’ – meaning ‘Intelligent Design’. This includes the ID.3 hatchback, which is the brand's lead electric car. If you prefer SUV 4x4 styling, consider the mid-size ID.4 crossover.

Outside its ID range, VW's other cars tend to be offered as petrol, diesel and – for newer models – as a mild hybrid (where a small electric motor boosts fuel efficiency) or plug-in-hybrid (which allow you to drive on electric power alone for limited distances, improving overall fuel economy).

For example, the VW Golf is available as a mild hybrid – to find out what effect this has on the Golf's running costs, see our VW Golf review. If you get the Golf's performance version, the VW Golf GTE, it's also available as a plug-in hybrid.

Volkswagen also offers many of its larger cars as plug-in hybrids, including the Volkswagen Passat GTE Estate and Arteon eHybrid. There are no plans to add fully electric options for these cars, though.

Now you know more about Volkswagen, find out how its cars perform in our tough lab and road tests, to be confident you’ve found a model that won’t let you down. See all our Volkswagen car reviews.