The undisputed queen of European sales, the Volkswagen Golf was forced to relinquish its throne in 2022 after years of absolute domination. Times change, and so do motorists' tastes, but the compact car from Wolfsburg remains a four-wheel icon. A car capable of selling 35 million units and a benchmark for its segment, which, generation after generation has been renewed in the name of continuity, to remain the leader in compact cars.

There has been no shortage of competitors, including the Opel-Vauxhall Astra, the same passport as the Golf, with over 30 years of history, heir to the Kadett and capable of selling over 11 million units. A successful model which, with the latest generation, has entered the world of pure electric, while retaining combustion engines in its range, flanked by electrified units.

Today, we pit the two German compacts against each other in a wheel-to-wheel challenge.

The exterior

From the first generation (dating from 1974) to the current one, launched in 2019 and subject to a restyling in early 2024, there is a considerable gap. However, if you look at the eight generations of the Volkswagen Golf, you can see that there has been a continuous evolution in terms of shape, style (often adopted by the rest of the range), dimensions, technology and engines. At 4.28 metres in length, the recently restyled compact from Wolfsburg continues the tradition, retaining the look and proportions of a classic five-door compact.  

Even the Opel-Vauxhall Astra has never "betrayed" the segment to which it belongs or its spirit as a compact car, adding centimetres at each generation change, following the manufacturer's design language from time to time. So today we find the typical Opel Vizor at the front, with a black radiator grille incorporating the lightning bolt logo and flanked by horizontally-developed headlamps. In terms of dimensions, it outstrips its competitor with a length of 4.37 metres.

Volkswagen Golf 2024 restyling - Foto

Volkswagen Golf

Vauxhall Astra Ultimate

Vauxhall Astra Ultimate

Model Length Width Height Wheelbase
Volkswagen Golf 4.28 metres 1.78 metres 1.49 metres 2.61 metres
Opel-Vauxhall Astra 4.37 metres 1.86 metres 1.47 metres 2.67 metres

The interior  

With the eighth generation, the Volkswagen Golf was severely criticised for its interior, which was judged not to be in keeping with tradition, and for its lacklustre infotainment system. It is precisely this aspect that the restyling presented in January has focused on, with the main feature being the large 12.9-inch central screen (10.25-inch screen standard in UK). Installed as an overhang on the dashboard, it has also been completely renewed in terms of software, connected and compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, also wireless. 

There are no physical climate controls. This is managed via backlit touch surfaces (another restyling innovation) and the instrumentation is still digital, displayed on a 10.2-inch screen. It's one of the best on the market, perfectly legible and with numerous screens.

Passenger space is good, and the Golf is also used as the only family car, with spaces that are always well used. At the rear, you're fairly comfortable, but the transmission tunnel - the platform is the MQB - is uncomfortable for those sitting in the middle. There are air vents and USB sockets. The boot offers a minimum capacity of 381 litres and a maximum of 1,237 litres, with 1/3 - 2/3 folding backrests and the option of a practical central hatch for passing longer items. There are no details yet on the capacity of the rechargeable versions. The pre-restyling version ranged from 273 to 1,129 litres.

Volkswagen Golf 2024 restyling - Foto

Volkswagen Golf 2024, interior

The Opel-Vauxhall Astra's dashboard is characterised by a sort of embrace of the driver, with the digital instruments and infotainment screens forming an impressive whole, almost giving the impression of an aeronautical cockpit. The diagonal measurement is 10.25 inches each, with clear graphics displaying a wealth of information. Of course, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, both wired and wireless, are also available. 

The air conditioning is controlled by physical buttons under the central screen, but the logic of their operation is not immediate and can be more distracting than it should be at first.

The extra centimetres of length play into the Opel Astra's habitability compared to the Golf. Space is good for those sitting in the rear, but those in the middle are penalised by the design of the seat, the seat cushion and the presence, once again, of the central tunnel. There are air vents and a USB socket. Luggage capacity varies from 442 to 1,339 litres (less for rechargeable versions) and the backrest folds 1/3 - 2/3. 

Vauxhall Astra Ultimate interior

Vauxhall Astra Ultimate interior

Model Digital instrumentation Central monitor Luggage compartment capacity
Volkswagen Golf 10.2" 12.9" 381 - 1,237
273 - 1,129 (provisional) 
Opel-Vauxhall Astra 10.25" 10.25" 422 - 1,339 litres
368 - 1,268 litres (PHEV)

Engines and technology

Petrol, diesel, mild hybrid and soon rechargeable with an electric range of 62 miles. The engine range for the Volkswagen Golf 2024 is heterogeneous, and in fact only excludes full hybrid (a technology not available in Wolfsburg) and electric power, which has been left to the ID.3. Currently, the power ratings are 115 or 150 PS, with the 272 PS PHEV GTE, the GTI (no longer available with a manual gearbox) and the Golf R, the most powerful in the range, coming later.

When it comes to technology, the Volkswagen Golf offers a particularly rich menu, with a long list of options that includes Level 2 assisted driving systems, LED matrix headlamps, adaptive trim and much more.

The Opel-Vauxhall Astra follows in the Golf's footsteps with a range of engines plus a 100 per cent electric version, also available for the estate version. It ranges from a minimum of 110 PS to a maximum of 225 PS (GSe plug-in) with the battery version powered by a 156 PS front electric motor and a claimed range of over 249 miles.

Driving assistants, matrix LED lights and much more are available in the options list.

Volkswagen Golf 2024 restyling - photo

Volkswagen Golf 2024, rear

Opel Astra (2022) review

Opel Astra, rear

Model Petrol Diesel Light hybrid Plug-in electric
Volkswagen Golf 1.5 115 PS
1.5 150 PS
2.0 115 PS
2.0 150 PS
1.5 115 PS
1.5 150 PS
1.5 204 PS (coming soon)
1.5 272 PS (coming soon)
n.a.
Opel-Vauxhall Astra

1.2 110 PS

1.2 130 PS

1.5 130 PS 

(n.a. UK)

1.2 136 PS 1.6 180 PS
1.6 225 PS
156 PS

Prices and equipment  

With the restyling, prices for the Volkswagen Golf start at £26,945, with the next trim level Style priced at £29,510. Currently, the most expensive version (excluding all GTI variants), is the R-Line, priced from £30,155. Standard equipment includes 16-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, adaptive and predictive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, parking aid, 12.9-inch central screen, wireless charging for smartphones and single-zone automatic climate control.

Prices for the Opel-Vauxhall Astra start at £26,960 for the 1.2-litre turbo petrol in Design trim and rise to £41,800 for the 225 PS plug-in GSe and £37,795 for the electric version. The base version already includes 16-inch alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, 10-inch digital instrumentation and infotainment system, keyless entry and much more.