The Dieselgate emissions scandal continues to rock Volkswagen, and it may be months before we see an end to the headlines and latest developments in the saga. If you're not put off by Dieselgate, you may be able to pick up a bargain VW on the used market:
1 - Volkswagen Golf GTI (2008-2012)
You can pick up a Golf Mk6 for half of the £10k we’ve budgeted for here, but if it’s a GTI you want, our budget is about right. The Golf GTI has usually been the hot hatch to opt for and still has that iconic reputation, despite more and more rivals upping their game in this segment. Under the bonnet is a 208bhp 2.0 TFSI petrol engine with 206lb ft.
The cabin is surprisingly quiet, ensuring a comfortable drive even when you’re pressing on. The GTI comes with a good level of technology and some nice touches, such as red stitching to match the nostalgic tartan seat upholstery. If a GTI isn’t for you, you could always opt for a low-spec regular Golf Mk7 for similar money.
2 - Volkswagen Beetle (2011-present)
We’re not suggesting you buy a classic Beetle here. Instead, we refer you to the third-generation model, launched in 2011. Gone were the divisive styling cues of its predecessor, such as the flower holder on the dashboard and the bubbly bumpers, and in came a more contemporary, angular Beetle with a flatter roofline and sportier aesthetic.
It’s available in three petrol variants (105bhp 1.2, 160bhp 1.4 and 200bhp 2.0) and a 1.6 TDI. If you go with the mid-level 1.4, its 160bhp and 177lb ft of torque result in a not-too-bad 0-62mph time of 8.3sec. Depending on the spec you choose, there is enough quality material and technology to be comfortable. Good ones start at about £9000.
3 - Volkswagen Up (2011-present)
The Up broke the rules of what was expected of a city car when it appeared on our roads in 2011, so we’re breaking the rules here by featuring a new example that you can get for a shade under £9k. That money will only buy you the Take Up model, which is the most basic of the range, so you get a 1.0-litre petrol engine, steel wheels, Isofix-compatible rear seats, heating and a radio/CD player… and that’s pretty much it for kit.
The best you’ll get for £10k is the Move Up, which has an added 15bhp, air-con, alloy wheels, electric windows and bodycoloured door handles and mirrors. Either way, it isn’t bad for a brand new car. Or, as this is still a used buying guide, you can pick one up for half our budget.
4 - Volkswagen Scirocco (2008-2014)
We waited a whopping 16 years for this model after the Scirocco Mk2 went out of production in 1992, so the Mk3 had to be good — and it is. It comes with a choice of three turbocharged engines: 1.4 petrol, 2.0-litre petrol and 2.0-litre diesel. All options are more than sufficient in terms of power.
The 1.4 TSI engine gets an added supercharger and has an output of 160bhp, which is more than enough for day-to-day running. A cloth or leather interior is available, depending on your chosen spec. Either material clothes good-quality seats. When new, sat-nav was an option and a six-speed manual ’box usually standard. Early models are currently going for around £8000.
5 - Volkswagen Polo GTI (2009
The Polo is basically a Golf that’s been on a hot wash. Engine options include turbocharged and non-turbocharged 1.2-litre and 1.4-litre petrol units and 1.2-litre, 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre diesel engines. However, if you opt for the GTI, its 1.4-litre petrol engine is both turbocharged and supercharged.
The Polo shares its platform with the Seat Ibiza and Audi A1, and despite being a bit larger than its predecessor, it is 7.5% lighter. The interior is a little more ‘function over form’ in the lower-spec models, but opt for the GTI and you get practically the same interior as the Golf. With the chance to pick up a really good one of these from around £6000, there’s not much to grumble about.