There is now, apparently, a Mk7 Volkswagen Golf, which is something I was staggered to learn. For many of us, the Mk5 and Mk6 were largely indistinguishable — they should really have been Mk5 and Mk5.5 — and now the Mk7 seems to be offering more of the same. Which means that it’s a good time to reassess some of the recent Golfs and see which ones best fit your budget and lifestyle.

First off, let’s tip our plaid hats to the Mk4. For me, this model has become the new Mk2. It’s solid, largely dependable, very cheap and still looks like an old-school Golf. I’ve had my eye on a Golf GTI on a local lot; it’s Ł1999 and looks pretty much like brand new.

If you want performance and economy, though, a 1.9 TDI 130 diesel from 2003 is about Ł4000 without a silly mileage. A burbling V5 — my personal favourite — starts at less than Ł1000 for a 2002 version.

So the cheapies are all in place and ready for work, but if you want to upgrade to a Mk5, you will need to up your budget, or at least the maximum mileage that you’re prepared to tolerate.

VW Golf Mk7

VW Golf Mk7

Well, Ł2995 gets you into a proper 21st century Golf. At this money they will mostly come with six-figure mileages and some may not have diesel engines, which I think is a good thing. The TSI petrols are excellent, and ideal for the majority of drivers who really won’t be doing a major motorway slog every day. No one seems to rate the 1.4, but it’s a reliable little hatchback that will return 40mpg overall. So a true people’s Golf, then.

Appropriately, the best price band in which to go hunting for a Mk5 is Ł5000. This will get you a 2005 2.0 FSI GT in three-door form, which is fun, or a 1.9 TDI SE if you want to be frugal. BlueMotions are more than Ł6000 but promise 61mpg. And, at that point, you start to stray into Mk6 territory.

VW Golf Mk7

VW Golf Mk7

So a new shape that looks not unlike a Mk7 starts at the mid-Ł6000 mark. You will get a 2.0 TDI 110 S for Ł6900 with low six figures or alternatively a 1.4 S with half the miles for the same sort of money. For proper excitement, a 2.0 GTI in three-door or five-door format from 2009 will be a shade under Ł12,000.

There may be a new Golf, but there’s plenty of life left in the old ones — if you can spot the difference, of course.

VW Golf Mk7 interior

VW Golf Mk7 interior

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