2023 Volkswagen Golf price and specs: Centre airbag, tech updates across range


The Volkswagen Golf has gained a centre airbag between the front seats – one of three small cars to offer one – as part of a model-year safety, tech and trim update.

Alex Misoyannis

  • 2023 Volkswagen Golf pricing and specifications
  • Centre airbag added to assist in side-impact crashes
  • Advanced safety and infotainment tweaks
  • Five model grades across two body styles, but no more manual
  • Priced from $34,690 before on-road costs

Above: 2021 Golf Life hatch.

The 2023 Volkswagen Golf is among the first models in the mainstream small car class to offer an airbag between the front seats – but no more manual transmission – as part of an update for the new model year.

Introduced as part of a broader Model Year 2023 (MY23) update for Volkswagen’s small car range, the Golf is now fitted with a centre airbag between the front seats, designed to prevent front occupants’ heads colliding in a side-impact crash.

The centre airbag – which brings the total to nine (dual frontal, front side, rear side, and full-length head-protecting curtains) – will be introduced on base and Life variants produced from late June 2022 (for MY23), before spreading to R-Line, GTI and R models built from late November.

Only two other small cars on sale offer centre airbags, the Audi A3 and soon-to-launch Cupra Leon – both of which are twins to the Golf.

Above: 2022 Golf R hatch.

Prices across the range are unchanged from the last price rise, which came into effect on June 1 (as reported in May).

The range opens from $34,690 plus on-road costs for an entry-level Golf automatic hatch – $2740 more than the same variant cost at the ‘Mk8’ Golf range’s launch in April 2021.

The Golf’s 2023 update also introduces revised software for the lane-keep assist and Travel Assist lane centring systems, designed to “more accurately detect narrow roads”, Volkswagen Australia says.

“Should a driver move close to the outside line of the lane due to a narrow lane, the system will no longer attempt to move the steering away from that line and will advise the driver to take control,” said Volkswagen Australia in its media bulletin.

Above: 2021 Golf GTI hatch.

Also new for 2023 is a “new” steering wheel airbag cover for all models, restyled door trim inserts for all variants except the Golf R, and for the GTI, “revised interior decor inlays and ‘GTI’ embossed sports seat covers”.

The digital instrument clusters across the range have “enhanced to more readily show the digital speedometer even when pop-up information is being shown in the cluster,” according to Volkswagen Australia.

Prices have not changed since the last increase in June, spanning $34,690 for the entry-level automatic Golf hatch, to $68,990 plus on-road costs for the Golf R wagon.

The eponymous base ‘Golf’ variant has returned after a brief period off-sale – but only with an automatic gearbox, as the six-speed manual (previously offered at a $2600 saving) has been axed.

Above: 2021 Golf R-Line hatch.

It leaves the city-sized Polo hatch as the only Volkswagen passenger car available with a manual transmission, after three-pedal versions of the GTI and R hot hatches were killed off during the previous-generation ‘Mk7.5’ Golf’s run in 2018.

Standard features on the base variant include LED headlights, an 8.25-inch touchscreen, wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, 16-inch wheels, cloth seats, tri-zone climate control, and a suite of advanced driver assistance systems.

The Golf is not affected by the announcement last month that a range of Volkswagen cars and SUVs will lose blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert for a six-month period starting in September, due to semiconductor shortages.

Above: 2022 Golf Life hatch.

Stepping up to more expensive Golf variants adds features such as a larger 10-inch touchscreen, larger wheels, microfleece or leather upholstery, wireless phone charging, ambient interior lighting, upgraded LED headlights, sports seats, and a head-up display.

The GTI differentiates itself through unique styling elements, red accents, cloth ‘tartan’ sports seats, a front differential lock and adaptive suspension and standard metallic paint.

Features exclusive to the top-of-the-range R halo include all-wheel drive, torque vectoring, performance brakes, matrix LED headlights, nappa leather trim, heated and ventilated seats, and six drive modes including Drift.

A full list of the standard features – and various option packs and colours – available with each variant are included at the bottom of this story.

Above: 2022 Golf R wagon.

Golf fans will note 19-inch wheels are now available as an optional extra on the GTI – a running change introduced earlier this year, as an option to the standard 18-inch alloys.

Powering the base Golf, Life and R-Line is a 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine developing 110kW and 250Nm, matched with front-wheel drive and an eight-speed conventional automatic transmission – rather than the ‘Mk7.5’ Golf’s seven-speed dual-clutch auto.

The GTI upgrades to a 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder petrol engine with 180kW and 370Nm, paired to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and front-wheel drive, with an electronic differential lock on the front axle.

Above: 2021 Golf (base) hatch.

The hero Golf R is offered in two engine tunes: 235kW/400Nm in the hatch, or 235kW/420Nm in the wagon. The wagon body style adds an emissions-busting petrol particulate filter, which if not filled with the correct fuel, could require a costly replacement within a few tanks.

The flagship model offers a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and 4Motion all-wheel drive, capable of sending 50 per cent of torque to the rear wheels – and then 100 per cent of that to either rear wheel, thanks to a torque-vectoring differential.

Premium unleaded is mandated across the range – a minimum of 95 octane in the 1.4-litre range and 2.0-litre GTI, or 98 octane in the R duo.

Combined fuel economy claims are as follows: 5.8 litres per 100 kilometres for the 1.4-litre Golf hatch, 5.9L/100km for the 1.4-litre wagon, 7.0L/100km for the GTI, 7.8L/100km for the R hatch, and 7.4L/100km for the R wagon.

Above: 2022 Golf R hatch.

The 2023 Volkswagen Golf and Golf Life are now in production – while the centre airbag-equipped R-Line, GTI and R are due to roll off the production line from late November 2022. The first cars are likely to reach showrooms within the months after they’re built.

The updated 2023 range will be complemented later on by an uprated Golf R, with the 245kW/420Nm engine tune from the 20 Years special edition – both expected to be detailed further for Australia within the next few months.

2023 Volkswagen Golf Australian pricing

  • Golf 110TSI hatch – $34,690
  • Golf 110TSI wagon – $36,390
  • Golf 110TSI Life hatch – $36,990
  • Golf 110TSI Life wagon – $38,990
  • Golf 110TSI R-Line hatch – $39,990
  • Golf GTI hatch – $54,990
  • Golf R hatch – $65,990
  • Golf R wagon – $68,990

Note: All prices above exclude on-road costs.

2023 Volkswagen Golf standard features:

  • LED headlights and tail-lights
  • 8.25-inch infotainment touchscreen with wired Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and digital radio
  • 10.25-inch ‘Digital Cockpit’ digital instrument cluster
  • Reversing camera
  • 16-inch ‘Norfolk’ alloy wheels
  • Tri-zone climate control
  • Push-button start
  • Six-speaker sound system
  • Leather steering wheel with shift paddles (new centre hub for 2023)
  • Cloth seat upholstery
  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Auto-dimming rear-view mirror
  • Power-folding side mirrors with heating
  • Nine airbags (centre airbag, new)
  • Autonomous emergency braking with intersection support
  • Travel Assist semi-autonomous tech (lane centring)
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Lane-keep assist
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Automatic park assist
  • Proactive passenger protection system

2023 Volkswagen Golf Life adds (over Golf):

  • 17-inch ‘Ventura’ alloy wheels
  • 10-inch centre touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, digital radio and in-built satellite navigation
  • Upgraded 10.25-inch ‘Digital Cockpit Pro’ instrument display
  • Comfort front seats with lumbar adjustment
  • Keyless (proximity key) entry
  • Seven-speaker sound system
  • New door trim inserts for 2023
  • Wireless phone charging
  • 10-colour ambient interior lighting
  • Power-folding side mirrors with heating and puddle light projection
  • Illuminated exterior door handle recesses
  • Rear-seat centre armrest
  • Floor mats
  • Power tailgate (wagon only)
  • Luggage partition net (wagon only)
  • Emergency Assist
  • Safe exit warning system

Above: 2021 Golf (base) hatch.

2023 Volkswagen Golf R-Line adds (over Life):

  • R-Line exterior and interior styling
  • 18-inch ‘Bergamo’ alloy wheels
  • Sports suspension tune
  • Progressive variable-ratio steering
  • ‘Performance’ LED headlights with auto high beam
  • Sports seats with cloth and microfleece upholstery
  • Sports leather steering wheel with touch controls
  • 30-colour ambient interior lighting
  • LED lighting in front footwells
  • Rear privacy (tinted) glass
  • Drive mode selector

2023 Volkswagen Golf GTI adds (over R-Line):

  • 18-inch ‘Richmond’ alloy wheels
  • New GTI-embossed fabric seat upholstery
  • Unique sports suspension tune
  • GTI exterior and interior styling
  • LED front grille strip and X-pattern fog lights
  • Vehicle Dynamics Manager system
  • Electronic locking front differential (XDL)
  • Adaptive suspension
  • Alarm system with interior monitoring
  • Premium, metallic and pearl effect paint as standard (except Kings Red)

2023 Volkswagen Golf R adds (over GTI):

  • R exterior and interior styling
  • 19-inch ‘Estoril’ alloy wheels
  • Performance brakes (358mm front discs)
  • Six drive modes (including Special and Drift)
  • 4Motion all-wheel drive with torque vectoring
  • Extended rear roof spoiler (hatch only)
  • Sports exhaust system
  • Matrix LED headlights
  • Nappa leather upholstery
  • Power-adjustable driver’s seat with three-position memory, electric lumbar adjustment
  • Heated and ventilated front sports seats
  • R sports steering wheel with enlarged metal paddle shifters
  • Head-up display

The optional $2000 Comfort and Style Package, available on Life, adds:

  • 30-colour ambient LED interior lighting (including front footwells)
  • Comfort sport front seats
  • Microfleece and cloth seat upholstery
  • Panoramic glass sunroof (with power tilting/sliding sections)

The optional $1600 Sound and Vision Package, available on Life and R-Line, adds:

  • Nine-speaker (plus subwoofer), 480-watt Harman Kardon sound system
  • Head-up display

The optional $2500 Sound and Style Package, available on GTI, adds:

  • Nine-speaker (plus subwoofer), 480-watt Harman Kardon sound system
  • Head-up display
  • 19-inch ‘Adelaide’ alloy wheels

The optional $3900 Luxury Package, available on GTI, adds:

  • Heated and ventilated front seats
  • Power-adjustable driver’s seat with three-position memory, electric lumbar
  • Memory for side mirrors
  • Panoramic glass sunroof with tilt/slide functionality
  • Vienna leather upholstery with red stitching

Standalone options include:

  • Panoramic sunroof ($1900 on R-Line and R hatch, $2000 on R wagon)
  • Harman Kardon sound system ($1000 on R)

Available colours include:

The core 110TSI variants offer the following colours:

  • Candy White (no cost)
  • Dolphin Grey Metallic ($650)
  • Deep Black Pearl ($650)
  • Atlantic Blue Metallic ($650)
  • Pomello Yellow Premium Metallic ($900)
  • Reflex Silver Metallic ($650, not available on R-Line
  • Moonstone Grey Premium ($650, R-Line exclusive)

The GTI can be had in six colours:

  • Pure White (no cost)
  • Deep Black Pearl (no cost)
  • Dolphin Grey Metallic (no cost)
  • Atlantic Blue Metallic (no cost)
  • Moonstone Grey Premium (no cost)
  • Kings Red Premium Metallic ($300)

The R offers the following three colours:

  • Pure White (no cost)
  • Lapiz Blue Premium Metallic (no cost)
  • Deep Black Pearl (no cost) 

Alex Misoyannis

Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017, when he started his own website, Redline. He contributed for Drive in 2018, before joining CarAdvice in 2019, becoming a regular contributing journalist within the news team in 2020. Cars have played a central role throughout Alex’s life, from flicking through car magazines as a young age, to growing up around performance vehicles in a car-loving family.

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