Volkswagen Golf: The Car Bible (Mk6 5K1 PQ35; 2010-2014)
The German hatchback that started it all, and continued with a vengeance.
Welcome to the Volkswagen Golf Mk6 Car Bible. As you scroll down you’ll learn all about this vehicle’s qualities, features, finer points, and shortcomings. If you’re thinking about buying one of these, want some help maintaining or modifying one, or just want to deepen your knowledge for the next round of car trivia, you’ve come to the right place.
This is a living document that’s updated as we learn (and confirm) new valuable info. Got something to add? Drop a comment or send us an email! Don’t be shy; the more dialogue we have the better this Car Bible will get.
–Andrew P. Collins, Car Bibles Editor-In-Chief
(Disclaimers; Disclosures: Some Car Bibles will have links to specific forums, groups, brands, shops, or vendors for parts shopping and such. We have no sponsorship deals or official affiliation with any of them unless explicitly stated. We also have to explicitly state that you work on your own car and follow our advice at your own risk.)
There’s a lot of info packed into this Bible. If you’re looking for something specific, hit command/control-F, type one of these terms, and your browser should bring you straight in.
- The Short Story
- Fast Facts
- Spotter’s Guide
- Check This Car Out If…
- Important Trim Levels and Options
- Year-To-Year Changes
- General Reliability and Ownership Costs
- Red Flags and Known Issues
- Where To Buy Parts
- Aftermarket Support
- Popular Modifications
- Key Technical Details
- Fluids, Filters, and Capacities
- Factory Service Manuals
- Other References and Resources
- Professional Reviews
- Owner Reviews
- What They’re Worth Now
- Where To Find One For Sale
- What To Ask A Seller
- Competitors To Consider
- Photo Galleries
- Enthusiast Inquiries
- Downloadable Paperback Car Bible
- Comments Disclaimer
The Short Story
The sixth-generation Volkswagen Golf is an evolution of the fifth-gen that shares the same platform with a focus on production efficiency. And, more importantly from a driver’s perspective: upgrading to the modern Volkswagen interior, exterior, and electronics architecture. The Mk6 continued a return to form for Volkswagen hatchbacks, building on the success of the Mk5, making it even better, and in my opinion, more timeless.
The amorphous blob that was the Mk5 Golf body was replaced with a sharper, modern, and classically teutonic design that elevated the Golf greatly. Allegedly, the boffins at Volkswagen managed to make the Mk6 substantially cheaper to manufacture than the Mk5 while also making it more refined, higher quality, and better-handling. It amounts to a fabulous hatchback that does everything you need it to; be quiet on the highway, comfortable on the commute, and fun around corners. The greatest party trick of the Golf is its refinement, solidity, and thoughtfulness that the car brims with, making you feel particularly well cared-for and making the Golf convincingly premium.
I know, I hate the word “premium” too, but just sit in a Mk6 Golf and you’ll get it. It just makes sense.
The EA888 TSI engine that powered the GTI was the first of the current generation of timing chain-driven VW turbo engines. There was a lukewarm reception to the new engine when it came out because of early timing chain issues, but they’re stout engines that make great power, very smoothly.
The mid-trim non-GTI Golfs were powered by a 2.5-liter inline-five known as “07k” amongst enthusiasts, related to the Audi RS3/TT-RS turbo inline-five. VW of Germany used this in the “Golf24”, turbocharged it, added permanent all-wheel-drive, and made a monster.
The head-honcho Golf R retained the EA113 FSI engine that was timing-belt driven, and powered most of the Mk5 generation of GTI. There was mixed reception to this as the Mk5 Golf R32 was VR6 powered, until everyone realized that the FSI had the larger K04 turbo and made big power with simple bolt-ons.
The Golf shared the Volkswagen Group PQ35 platform with a variety of cars including the Eos, Jetta, Audi A3 and TT, Beetle, Tiguan, and Passat/CC on PQ46.
The Golf features insanely overbuilt door hinges that are practically unbreakable; you can jump on an open door without harming it. It also has an unusually strong method of holding the doors open for hills and the like, using a one-inch thick bend of spring steel and a series of rotating bearings to maintain optimum door holdage.
The plaid fabric pattern that is found in cloth-shod GTIs is called “Interlagos,” after the racetrack in Brazil.
The Mk6 GTI is the last North American GTI built in Germany, as of writing in early-2021.
Walter de Silva is responsible for the redesign that became the Mk6 Golf.
The standard Golf looks pretty boring, but sharp. Higher-trim cars have bi-xenon front headlights. All Golfs are hatchbacks. Standard Golfs have a pedestrian-looking front bumper with round fog lights, and a rear twin-exit exhaust on the driver’s side.
The GTI features a unique front bumper with horizontal strakes, honeycomb pattern that traces up to the grill featuring a “GTI” badge, and two red stripes on the grill. Black plastic sideskirt extensions lead us to the rear, where a new rear bumper with faux diffuser and traditional dual exhausts now lives. The roof spoiler is extended on the GTI.
The Golf R furthers the treatment with another front bumper featuring massive intakes and LED daytime running lights in the outer grills. The honeycomb pattern is ditched for normal horizontal strakes, and another grill bearing an “R” badge is fitted. It ditches the black sideskirt extensions for an entirely new piece. To the rear, yet another new rear bumper is fitted, with a widely spaced center-exit exhaust. The spoiler remains the same as GTI.
An easy way to tell some 2010-2012 and 2013-2014 models apart are the Audi-esque LED daytime running lights in the bi-xenon equipped cars. Normal Golfs and GTIs abide by this, while Golf Rs use the bumper-mounted DRLs for it’s entire run.
There are Mk6 Golfs everywhere, and GTIs are seemingly even more common than a lesser Golf. You won’t have trouble finding one. As of writing in early-2021, they’re at the perfect apex of new enough to have been cared for but old enough to be affordable. Get ’em while they’re hot.
The only rare Golfs are Golf Rs, and that’s only relatively speaking. VW sold a lot in the two years (2012-2013) they were available in North America.
Check This Car Out If…
You’re someone who values refinement and restraint in something that is still efficient and un-bothersome, while being cavernously spacious and still saying nice things about you to the world.
Important Trim Levels and Options
Options are thin on the ground for Golfs in general, since this was before the Volkswagen brand strategy of the S, SE, and SEL trim levels. On standard Golfs, you’re looking at lighting package (bi-xenon adaptive headlights), leather seats, and the Dynaudio eight-speaker upgraded stereo. Standard Golfs had the option of a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic. The base-of-base model Golf 2.5s omitted steering wheel controls. All Golfs came available in two-door or four-door. Some Golfs got sunroofs, every four-door GTI got a sunroof. Some two-doors did not. Base Golfs did not receive the upgraded overhead console with backlit buttons and red “pilots lights” that illuminate constantly during the night. All GTIs received this overhead console. GTIs and TDIs share similar packages and content.
As it goes, Mk6 Golfs come in these models:
- Golf TDI
- Golf 2.5
- Golf R
GTIs also had few options and trim levels. For North American 2010 models, the lighting package and Dynaudio stereo were bundled together. Those cars usually got the 17-inch “Denver” wheels, though some did get the 18-inch “Detroit” with no real rhyme or reason. Some GTIs received the RNS-310 navigation with the puny screen that was basically useless, but had the bonus of leather seats. Most got the RCD-315 LCD screen head unit that did literally nothing, except illuminate the cabin with obnoxious light. One fun fact of 2010 GTIs: they are the only year you can get premium audio, bi-xenons, and the excellent plaid seats. For the rest of production, premium audio is only available with leather.
For 2011, trim levels became more standardized. There was a base model with plaid seats, standard audio, a cheap-looking RCD-310 head unit, and no steering wheel buttons. The options were limited to the RCD-315 steering wheel controls called the Convenience Package. The highest trim Golfs were called Autobahns, and had everything; xenons, leather seats, Dynaudio, navigation, and KESSY keyless entry and push-button start.
In 2013, VW introduced a Driver’s Edition GTI. It featured leather seats and navigation, but had a normal ignition key and no Dynaudio stereo. From 2013 on, GTIs were sold as Base/Driver’s Edition/Autobahn. The easiest way to tell them apart is that Autobahn GTIs got diamond cut and black “Serron” wheels, and Driver’s Edition GTIs got “Watkins Glen” wheels in metallic grey. Base GTIs got the normal “Detroit” diamond cut phone-dial wheel design.
Golf Rs come absolutely loaded to the brim, no matter what. You get your choice of two-door or four-door, and some colors. All of them come with leather, navigation, KESSY, Dynaudio, and the cool blue-needle gauge cluster. They all come with 18-inch “Montauk” wheels, affectionately called “peelers” for their potato peeler design.
These changes reflect the U.S. market.
2010 Model Year:
- North American debut
- Golf is offered in limited trim levels and options.
- GTI introduced with no official trim levels, with some options.
- TRW rear brake assemblies used
- XDS (Cross-Differential System) introduced for GTIs, using brake vectoring for a faux limited-slip differential
2011 Model Year:
- Gen 2 TSI introduced with oil level sensor
- GTI receives updated gauge cluster with red rings and revised redline markings
- GTI receives Bosch rear brake assembly
- All cars receive new “9w7” Bluetooth module adding voice command and phonebook functionality in MFA+ (gauge cluster display)
- Overhead Bluetooth control panel deleted with 9w7
- MFA+ slightly reconfigured for 9w7 to show Bluetooth connectivity
- Steering wheel buttons revised, right-hand side left/right buttons changed from arrows to pages being flipped
- Soft introduction of Autobahn trim level
2012 Model Year:
- Gauge cluster revised again for more pronounced red ring
- Full introduction of Autobahn trim level
- Redesigned bi-xenon headlights that now feature LED daytime running lights
- Golf R introduced to North America with FSI engine and 4Motion all-wheel-drive
- Introduced 18-inch “Watkins Glen” and “Serron” wheel styles. “Serron” went on the Autobahn, and “Watkins Glen” was fitted to the Driver’s Edition.
2013 Model Year:
- Golf R removed from market at end of year
- GTI Driver’s Edition introduced
- GTI trim hierarchy fully defined as Base/Driver’s Edition/Autobahn
2014 Model Year:
- Final model year for U.S. market
- No changes
General Reliability and Ownership Cost
These cars can be genuinely hit-or-miss. I’ve had excellent luck with mine. I’ve also seen people have very random issues that cannot be solved, though they are very rare. Either way, you can be confident in a reliable car that requires only a touch more attention than something like a Honda.
Specialist labor isn’t required, though many say it is. There are plenty of good cheap European independent shops that will work on them, and parts are reasonably cheap! Seriously, genuine VW parts for these cars really don’t break the bank.
Make sure to get the major stuff out of the way (listed below) and you’ll have a truly dependable, comfortable, and fast German hot-hatch.
The 2010-2011 Golfs have a Body Control Module (BCM) that is strangely incompatible with random things. For example, you cannot code LED license plate lights into the old module, and you either have to manually resist the lights or deal with the car saying that the license plate bulbs are out.
In 2012, Golfs switched to a simplified TPMS system that doesn’t monitor pressure, it actually monitors the individual rotational speeds of each wheel to determine if one wheel is deflated. You can switch to this later system in 2010-2011 cars with some minor coding.
Red Flags and Known Issues
The Mk6 Golf’s common issues are well-known and documented. Luckily, they’re pretty easily identified as well, and mostly apply to GTIs. Look out for:
Rear main seal leaks. The genuine rear main seal is complete and utter garbage. It’s thin, curved piece of rubber glued to a thin metal plate, riding on the end of the crankshaft. Once it unglues itself from the metal plate, you will have a large oil leak, and it requires a transmission-off service. The aftermarket has stepped up with permanent fixes to the problem; the most common being the iABED rear main seal kit. I personally used this (with my own money) and can vouch for it.
PCV failures. All Golf models can suffer from a fragile PCV system. The TSI, FSI, and 2.5-liter inline-five all use a combination PCV/Air-oil separator that have a diaphragm in them. This diaphragm tears, and lets all of the crankcase pressure run straight past the entire system, causing a huge vacuum leak and massive oil consumption, and even expedite the failure of the rear main seal. It’s $150 for a genuine VW one, and they’re good for 100,000 miles, but keep it in mind when shopping for one as it is a necessary service.
Timing chain tensioner failure. (GTI only) The EA888 TSI engine that powers every Mk6 GTI can be prone to timing chain tensioner failure. Don’t panic, it’s fixable! Just be wary of pre-2012 GTIs. After 2012, VW issued an updated tensioner that solved the failure point, and makes it perfectly reliable. It’s relatively easy to verify a timing chain service without a physical inspection; easily accessible OBD diagnostics display chain stretch via variable valve timing correction. These cars all have years and miles on them now, and most cars that are destined for a chain failure will have it happen in the first 60,000 miles. My 2010 had it done, and it has seen 22,000 hard miles in my ownership with zero worries.
Intake manifold failure. (GTI/R only) The infamous and dreaded P2015 code. The intake manifolds in Mk6 GTIs and Golf Rs have a flap in them that acts as a pseudo-variable intake. The system that actuates it has a solenoid, a diaphragm, a lever arm, and the flaps themselves. None of them can be individually changed, so you are required to buy an entire intake manifold. Genuine ones run for about $350 from a dealer, and it’s worth the money. The latest revision, called the -BH revision, fix the early issues. Look out for a massive vacuum leak or a gravelly sounding engine, and you’ll know it’s coming. My car failed by popping the lever arm out of the intake, some fail in other ways. Beware, you need VAG-COM to adapt the ECU to the new manifold, so budget another $200 for that, though it can be used for a huge variety of issues in the VW universe.
Front subframe creaks/shifting. Volkswagens use incredibly stupid torque-to-yield single-use bolts for basically everything. On everything except suspension, I reuse the bolts and nothing bad has happened. Either way, VW used these bolts to fasten the front subframe to the car, with hugely varying tolerances. Sometimes, it can cause an annoying creak in the front suspension, and the subframe can even shift. Tyrolsport engineered a comprehensive kit to replace the shitty bolts with real ARP hardware, and a locking collar kit to fully square the subframe up with the rest of the car, to fix the issue that Volkswagen didn’t care to fix correctly.
Camshaft “bridge” failure. (GTI only) TSI engines use a bridge at the very front of the engine that sits over the two camshafts that distribute oil to the cams, and the variable valve timing system. There is a screen in the bridge that can fail, disintegrate, and cause oil pressure to be blocked to the sole variable valve timing phaser on the intake cam. That’s the best case scenario. This issue has been known, in rare cases, to blow engines by lodging itself in an oil galley deep in the engine. I personally experienced this after a track day at Horse Thief Mile, has a EPC light and CEL, and a rattle coming from the VVT. VW released a fail-proof revision that I highly recommend that you do. It’s easy to get done; costs about $300 in genuine parts and two hours of your time.
The normal Golf has six open recalls, most for the widespread campaign to fix faulty air bag inflators, see them here.
The GTI has three recalls over four years of production. A vague non-compliance recall, a clock spring one, and a DSG gearbox recall. Link here.
The Golf R has no recalls as of this writing.
Where to Buy Parts
ECS Tuning is an excellent resource to research the exact parts you need, acting as an extremely helpful parts catalog. I prefer to not order from ECS, and instead input the info I learned into FCP Euro. Both sites work well as huge resources for European car parts.
You won’t find many parts for these cars at the local parts stores, but stuff like shocks, brakes, wheel bearings and oil aren’t special and are usually best found at NAPA or similar higher-end parts store. If all else fails, I just order from my local VW or Audi dealer, since genuine parts are reasonably priced. I’ve literally paid more for genuine Honda parts.
The aftermarket support for the Golf is respectable. All the suspension stuff that people make for GTIs and Rs fit on the normal Golf in North America, since every Golf got the 55mm front strut diameter. Though a little lacking, most major coilover companies make a set for the Mk6 Golf by proxy of the Mk5, and several companies have bushings and sway bars for them. I wish there were more options for geometry correction on lowered cars, but you can’t get everything you ask for.
GTIs and Rs get the added bonus of excellent parts and software from some of the most reputable companies in the world, like APR, REVO, Unitronic, and the like. A simple Stage 1 tune really wakes these cars up, and a tune from APR is factory reliable. I’ve personally done dozens of track sessions with my Stage 1+ tune, with zero failures or hiccups.
Most of these aftermarket parts companies make hardware like intercoolers and intakes that genuinely bolt-on with zero trouble. It’s weird that only Euros get that sort of attention, but it’s a bonus!
Even better, is that the aftermarket has stepped up where VW hasn’t. They provide permanent solutions for the rear main seal issues by making kits that convert the seals the older, but reliable sprung seals. They also make catch-cans that go in place of the old PCV to nip those issues in the bud, and Tyrolsport makes a rigid collar kit to solve any creaking or subframe shifting that may happen. If there’s a problem with these cars, someone has fixed it, and is selling their idea.
A great mod for all Mk6 (and Mk5) Golfs is the Tyrolsport Deadset rigid collar kit. It substantially improves ride quality, steering, and fixes the subframe creaking issues that somewhat plague these cars. Spoon, the original company that innovated the rigid collar kit, has a great video on it. It’s especially effective for these cars.
A front and rear sway bar set really wakes the car up dynamically, and is a very common mod. An APR tune or equivalent is basically a must-do mod, since it’s reliable power just left on the table. The GTI and Rs engines are lucky enough to have a Fluidampr available, a great mod that frees up 10 HP, and smooths an already smooth engine out. I love both those mods on my own GTI.
A lot of people do coilovers, but I advise against them. I ran Bilstein PSS9s and KW Variant 2s, and had mixed results. Stock suspension is very good for handling, but not great for looks. You can also use the front uprights and control arms from a VW Passat/CC for extra lightness in the front end, and it’s an easy bolt-in junkyard mod. In fact we did a whole post about that, check it out right here.
Whiteline makes an Anti-Lift kit that also does well for the steering, adding heft and feel. It’s an incredibly popular mod, and it slightly changes the geometry and position of the front lower control arms for more ideal caster, camber, and anti-dive kinematics.
Key Technical Details
OK, there’s a lot here. We’ll divide things up as logically as we can since there are multiple powertrain options to cover.
Golf TDI: EA189 TDI two-liter Inline-four with 16 rocker-actuated valves, belt-driven dual-overhead camshafts housed in separate cast-as-one girdle. Turbocharged common-rail direct-injected diesel engine, with iron block and aluminum heads. Compression ratio is 16.5:1. Forged steel crankshaft. Engine code: CJAA. Run by Bosch EDC-17 ECU.
Golf 2.5: EA855 “07K” 2.5-liter inline-five cylinder with 20 rocker-actuated valves, chain-driven dual overhead camshafts secured by valve-cover/cam cap combo. Intake camshaft variable valve timing. Naturally aspirated port-injected gasoline engine, with iron block and aluminum heads. Compression ratio is 9.5:1. Engine code: CBTA for 48-state, CBUA for CA emissions. Run by Bosch MED-17 ECU.
GTI: EA888 TSI two-liter inline-four with 16 rocker-actuated valves, chain-driven dual overhead camshafts secured by valve-cover/cam cap combo. Intake camshaft variable valve timing. Turbocharged (K03) direct-injection gasoline engine, with iron-block and aluminum heads. Compression ratio is 9.6:1. Forged steel crankshaft, connecting rods, and pistons. Engine code CCTA for 48-state, CBFA for CA emissions. Run by Bosch MED-17 ECU.
Golf R: EA113 FSI two-liter inline-four with 16 rocker-actuated valves, belt-driven dual overhead camshafts secured by normal caps, intake cam driven by belt, and exhaust cam is driven by chain from intake cam. Intake variable valve timing. Turbocharged (K04) direct-injection gasoline engine, with iron-block and aluminum heads. Specially massaged heads for the Mk6 R. Compression ratio is 9.8:1. Forged steel crankshaft, connecting rods, and pistons. Engine code CDLF for everywhere except Australia. Run by Bosch MED-17 ECU.
Golf 2.5: AQ250/09G Aisin/VW 6-speed automatic transmission, or MQ250 02T five-speed manual transmission.
Golf TDI: DQ250 VW six-speed dual-clutch gearbox, or MQ350/02Q VW six-speed manual transmission.
Golf GTI: DQ250 VW six-speed dual-clutch gearbox, or MQ350/02Q VW six-speed manual transmission.
Golf R: DQ250 VW six-speed dual-clutch gearbox with external Haldex transfer case, or MQ350/02Q VW six-speed manual transmission with external Haldex transfer case.
Golf 2.5: Front-wheel drive, open differential with unequal length driveshafts.
Golf TDI: Front-wheel drive, open differential with unequal length driveshafts.
Golf GTI: Front-wheel drive, open mechanical differential with VW XDS brake vectoring limited-slip differential and unequal length driveshafts.
Golf R: Haldex Generation-four, part-time FWD-biased all-wheel-drive. Open mechanical front differential, with Haldex transfer case acting as front pseudo limited-slip, and open rear differential. Variable torque bias from 100 percent FWD to 50/50 split front/rear.
Front: MacPherson strut with cast steel uprights and pressed steel control arms. 21mm front sway bar on TDI and 2.5. 23mm front sway bar for GTI and Golf R.
Rear: Semi-trailing arm with separate spring and shock, cast steel knuckle (cast aluminum knuckle on Golf R) and pressed steel control arms. All Golf models use a 19mm rear sway bar. Golf R uses different rear subframe to accommodate Haldex, but uses same control arms.
Wheelbase: 101.5 in; 2578 mm for both two-door and four-door.
Overall length: 165.9 in; 4213 mm for both two-door and four-door.
Golf 2.5 four-door: 2,967 pounds (manual), 3,023 pounds (automatic). Two-doors are reportedly 70 pounds lighter than four-doors.
Golf TDI four-door: 3,074 pounds (manual), 3,125 pounds (DSG). Two-doors are reportedly 70 pounds lighter than four-doors.
Golf GTI four-door: 3,113 pounds (manual), 3,168 (DSG). Two-doors are reportedly 70 pounds lighter than four-doors.
Golf R two-door: 3,354 pounds (manual), 3,411 pounds (DSG). Four-doors are approximately 70 pounds heavier than two-doors, though the only weight figures I could find for Golf Rs are two-doors.
OEM tire sizes:
Golf 2.5: 195/65/15 for steel wheels, 205/55/16 for 16-inch mid-tier wheels, and 225/45/17 17-inch high trim Golfs.
Golf TDI: 225/45/17 17-inch for base TDIs, 225/40/18 for TDIs equipped with 18-inch wheels.
Golf GTI: 225/45/17 for 17-inch “Denver” wheels. 225/40/18 for 18-inch “Detroit”, “Watkins Glen”, and “Serron” wheels.
Golf R: 225/40/18 for all Golf Rs, two-door and four-door.
Fluids, Filters, and Capacities
These are factory specs and numbers. Filters and such that you might find in an auto parts store will have different numbers unique to their brands, but you should be able to cross-reference those with the numbers here if you can’t just match up what you need by year, make, and model.
Golf 2.5: 87 AKI (regular gasoline)
Golf TDI: Diesel #2 (low-sulfur diesel)
Golf GTI: 91 AKI (premium gasoline)
Golf R: 91 AKI (premium gasoline)
Battery Size: H5 for all Golfs.
Golf 2.5: 5W-30 full-synthetic. Capacity: 5.8 quarts. Interval: 10,000 miles.
Golf TDI: 5W-30 full-synthetic, VW LL03/507.00 grade. Capacity: 5 quarts. Interval: 10,000 miles.
Golf GTI: 5W-30 full-synthetic, I run Motul X-Clean 5W-30 on my GTI with many reliable track days. Capacity: 4.9 quarts. Interval: 10,000 miles.
Golf R: 5W-30 full-synthetic, same recommendation as GTI. Capacity: 4.9 quarts. Interval: 10,000 miles.
Golf 2.5: VW Genuine part no. 06D 115 562. Interval: 10,000 miles.
Golf TDI: VW Genuine part no. 071 115 562 C. Interval: 10,000 miles.
Golf GTI: VW Genuine part no. 06J 115 403 Q. Interval: 10,000 miles.
Golf R: VW Genuine part no. 06D 115 562 Interval: 10,000 miles.
Golf 2.5: VW Genuine part no. 07K 129 620. Interval: 60,000 miles. Note the “07K” designation, showing the Audi connection.
Golf TDI: VW Genuine part no. 1K0 129 620 D. Interval: 60,000 miles.
Golf GTI: VW Genuine part no. 1K0 129 620 D. Interval: 60,000 miles.
Golf R: VW Genuine part no. 06F 133 843 B. Interval: 60,000 miles.
Cabin Air Filters: VW part no. 1K1 819 653 B. Multiple brands apply, I use Bosch HEPA. Interval: 40,000 miles.
All manual transmissions (MQ250 five-speed and MQ350 six-speed): 75W-90 gear oil, I use Motul Gear 300 to good success. Interval: 60,000 miles. Capacity: 2.3 quarts.
Automatic transmission (AQ250): Dexron III automatic transmission fluid. Interval: 60,000 miles. Capacity: 6 quarts.
Dual-clutch gearbox (DSG DQ250): Liqui-Moly 8100 Dual Clutch Gear Oil, or equivalent. Interval: 40,000 miles. Capacity: 4.7 quarts.
All manual transmissions: Not applicable.
Dual-clutch gearbox (DSG): VW part no. 02E 305 051 C. Note: some special tools may be required, but mostly straightforward. Interval: 60,000 miles.
Automatic transmission: VW part no. 09G 325 429 D. Note: Servicing auto transmission requires pan drop, and new gasket, here’s a good kit from FCPEuro. Interval: same as fluid change, internal filter under trans pan.
Differential Oil: Same as applicable gearbox oil.
Coolant: VW G13, known as “nuclear pink”. Only use genuine coolant. Interval: Officially never, but call it 100,000 miles.
Power Steering Fluid: Not applicable, electric power steering.
Brake Fluid: DOT4, interval 2 years.
Clutch Fluid: DOT4, shared system with brake reservoir.
Golf 2.5: NGK PZFR5J-11, interval 60,000 miles.
Golf TDI: Not applicable, diesel engine.
Golf GTI: NGK BKR7EIX, interval 60,000 miles. NOTE: Turbo VWs like to eat ignition coils at the same rate, so budget for new ignition coils at 60,000 miles as well. Use Audi R8 “red-top” coils, part no. 06E 905 115 E. I have used Denso coils to great effect on a Stage 1+ tune on a GTI. I also went one step colder on the plugs for the tune, part no. NGK BKR8EIX.
Golf R: NGK BKR7EIX, interval 60,000 miles. NOTE: Turbo VWs like to eat ignition coils at the same rate, so budget for new ignition coils at 60,000 miles as well. Use Audi R8 “red-top” coils, part no. 06E 905 115 E. Most tunes want you to go one step colder on the plugs, part no. NGK BKR8EIX.
Factory Service Manuals
Finding an FSM for these cars is surprisingly difficult, and you’re likely to pay a lot of money for it. I couldn’t find any free ones. For these cars, I advise you scroll right down to our reference and resource section.
Other References and Resources
Ross-Tech has an insanely comprehensive wiki full of VAG diagnostic codes, solutions, and methods for diagnosis via VAG-COM or VCDS. I own a VCDS HEX-CAN V2, and find it indispensable in my wrenching journey with my 2010 GTI.
ECS Tuning is the ultimate, easiest parts catalog for these cars. Simply go to its homepage, input your car, and just search up your parts. The best part is that you get options for genuine parts, and aftermarket alternatives, and every part number that goes with it.
Golfmk6.com has everything else you could possibly need for DIYing. I personally have used this forum to guide me through the finer points of my rear main seal repair, and other stuff! For the weirdo Aisin/VW automatic transmission, here’s an excellent guide.
Finally, my own advice for these cars: Get yourself a high quality set of Torx sockets in 3/8ths and 1/4 in drive, many extensions, and some very stubby ones. Make sure you have a 13mm socket, 15mm socket, 16mm socket, and a 24mm 12-point socket. Also, make sure to have a set of triple-square sockets handy, and maybe a set of ratcheting spanner wrenches. Then you’ll be wrenching on everything!
“First Drive: 2010 Volkswagen Golf evolves the German hatchback.” (Autoblog – October 15, 2009)
Sam Abuelsamid at Autoblog considered the Mk6 Golf favorably, spending time in both TDI and 2.5 in Germany.
“The Golf always tracked straight, even at speeds over 100 mph, aided by precise steering that made positioning a simple point and shoot affair. The steering provided adequate feedback when we had the chance to dive-bomb a few corners, a when the occasional delivery van became a rolling roadblock in the left lane, the Golf’s brakes – while lacking in feel – were up to the task, easily reigning in the party from 115 to 60 MPH.”
Sam also expressed a preference for the TDI diesel powered Golfs over the 2.5 five-pot equipped cars.
” In the meantime, the quiet, smooth running diesel is easily the preferred powerplant for the Golf. Delivering a 0-60 MPH time of 8.6 seconds and flat torque curve, it’s more than adequate for the vast majority of drivers and delivers fuel economy that could make most hybrids blush.”
“2010 Volkswagen GTI First Drive: Evolution has treated this icon well.” (Car & Driver – March 24, 2009)
Jens Meiners over at C&D enjoyed the GTIs overall package, and reminisced on the dominance of the GTI as the quintessential do-it-all daily runabout.
“The GTI began life as a segment buster. When it was launched, it was intended to entice cool and trendy urban types who wanted to lay waste to far bigger, far more traditional coupes and family sedans. The GTI did just that, and it was a sensation. The car wasn’t cheap, but it was well executed and an absolute blast to drive.”
He also spoke on the dynamics of the Mk6:
“Despite its 2900 pounds, the GTI is highly tossable and always eager to go for a romp. If you overdo it, the standard electronic stability control kicks in gently and with enough of a delay to let you keep playing.”
“First Drive: 2010 Volkswagen GTI reminds us why we like hot hatches so much” (Autoblog – October 8, 2009)
Jonny Lieberman writing for Autoblog was impressed with overall package of the GTI, citing excellent design and comfort, but acknowledging compromises when it comes to flat-out performance driving.
“Because of the MkVI GTI’s new electronic limited slip, you can get on the power incredibly early when coming out of a corner. We’re talking pre-apex here. And this is fantastic, allowing you to attack turns the way you might in an all-wheel drive car. The XDS partnered with the revised suspension means you’re at full power more often than not, taking big speed into (and more importantly) out of bends faster than we were expecting given our impression of the outgoing GTI. However, and this is big, driving this way shortens the useful life of the brakes considerably when you push the GTI hard. Remember, electronic LSDs use ABS to stop the wheel from spinning so fade comes on fast.”
“2010 Volkswagen Golf R: The most spectacular Golf of all is fantastic but pricey. Will we get the chance to buy one?” (Car & Driver – January 28, 2010)
Jens Meiners of C&D also took the helm of this review of the Golf R, before it came stateside. He enjoyed the handling benefits of the Haldex AWD, but wasn’t blown away.
“The Golf R’s handling is more neutral than the GTI’s, but just slightly, as the GTI’s XDS electronic differential does a fairly good job of minimizing the handicap of front-wheel drive. But even the Golf R can’t entirely mask the front-drive roots of its chassis.”
I own one of these myself, as you might have gathered if you read many of the sections above this one. But I’ll quote myself here as an owner specifically to keep with the Car Bible format.
Chris Rosales (Feb 20, 2021)
2010 GTI manual; started stock, then modified; owned for over 1 year
“I’ve owned 12 cars. I’ve lost thousands of dollars. All, in the search of something that suited what I needed: a spacious car, that could mob in the canyons, that also had a good stereo, is quiet on the highway, and got good fuel economy. Oh, and also feels high quality, and moddable. And, something that didn’t look dumb.
That car, is the Mk6 GTI.
It’s everything you want. Hop into the seat, and you’ll be pleasantly held by sporty, tall bolsters, with your coccyx nearly on the floor. The wheel presents itself to you, with great grip and size. Airy, smart, modern, the interior feels well styled and supremely fastened together. It’s tiny on the outside, but is spacious inside. It’s easy to maneuver, park, jump, and do handbrake turns in. It fits everything inside of it, especially with the rear seats down.
The 2.0 TSI engine gets some hate for being boring, but I think the engine has a welcoming character, unobtrusive and smooth, with a satisfying powerband. Stock and APR tuned, the GTI has never failed to deliver consistent, powerful sprints to redline. It’s one of my favorite parts; there is zero weirdness in the tune. The Bosch MED-17 ECU can figure everything out well before it gets to boost-cut, making the engine consistently springy and willing.
The suspension is very good, but probably best to stick with stock height. Rear travel is very limited, and the factory geometry is well engineered. With my cocktail of Whiteline sway bars, anti-lift kit, and Passat/CC aluminum suspension members, the GTI rotates eagerly off-throttle, and feels responsive on it’s sure-footed tires.
Ah, tires. Those get destroyed quick. If you drive like a lunatic, budget for new tires all of the time. I’ve destroyed at least 3 full sets in 20,000 miles. Sure, it also had a few issues over my ownership. I got the Mk6 GTI playbook of problems: bad intake manifold, bad rear main seal, camshaft bridge, and subframe creaking. Here’s the secret: these cars are a joy to work on. Once you get the recommended tools up above, it’s cake. There’s space everywhere. As far as Euros go, this thing is a fun car to get introduced to the mindset of German engineers. This thing was designed with care.
The only thing that could make this better, is if Volkswagen went out and did something rear-wheel drive. Then, I would have my ideal machine. It’s that good.
Anyways, I want to buy an E46 M3. Anyone looking for a gently used GTI?”
Own or owned one of these and want to share your thoughts? Hit up in the comments or email firstname.lastname@example.org!
What They’re Worth Now
The prime example:
Golf 2.5/TDI: Most of these are pretty clean and reasonably cheap! Budget about $15,000 for the cleanest ones out there, with top-trim options. TDIs carry a premium.
GTI: The cleanest, stock GTIs top out at about $18,000 for low miles (less than 20,000). Usually, the expensive ones will be Autobahn trim, so they will loaded to the brim with options. You won’t see any base or Driver’s Edition cars at this price. Stick/DSG doesn’t affect price much. Most of these GTIs will be 2012 and newer.
Golf R: Budget upwards of $20,000 for a primo Golf R. Two-doors carry an extra premium.
A very clean driver:
Golf 2.5/TDI: You’re looking at $10,000 for a above-average Golf 6. These will also be loaded up with options, with nice low miles. TDIs still carry a premium.
GTI: $13,000 will get you a damn fine Driver’s Edition, or you’ll be on the cheaper side of an Autobahn, with around 40,000 miles. Still a good crop of 2012+ cars.
Golf R: Budget upwards of $17,000 for a nice Golf R. Two-doors carry an extra premium.
An honest car:
Golf 2.5/TDI: Now it’s getting fun. Once these cars have some miles, around 100,000+, you’ll start nabbing really good ones for $5,000. You’ll still get decent options, but now you’ll start seeing base model ones around this price range. This will be cheap end of TDIs, and you’ll have a huge pick of Golf 2.5s.
GTI: $8,000-$10,000 will get you a GTI with about 80,000-100,000 miles. You’ll start seeing highly optioned 2010-2011s around at this price, with the very cheap end of 2012-2014s being here, with extra miles.
Golf R: Budget about $12,000-$13,000. You’ll start seeing modded Rs for this price, with miles exceeding 120,000 miles.
The budget option:
Golf 2.5/TDI: Now we’re talkin’ a bargain. $3,000-$4,000 will get you a nicely dented Golf 2.5, with 130,000+ miles. It will be very base, but still has the solid bones of all Golfs. TDIs are a tough bargain here, so don’t expect to get one.
GTI: $5,000-$7,000 will get you into a 2010-2011 GTI with mild options. I got my 2010 GTI 6MT for $6,000 with 130,000 miles, and that is the case for most cars in this range. You can still get a pretty nice car for this money, but be wary of excessive mods.
Golf R: $10,000 will nab you a real, uh, fixer-upper of a Golf R. You won’t see them sell at these prices often, and usually they’ll have 150,000 miles+. Prepare for some work to be needed.
Golf 2.5/TDI: $2,000 will get you a beater Golf 2.5 with an exhaust leak so you live out your Group B Quattro dreams. It’ll have a ton of miles, but be a ton of fun.
GTI: $2,500-$4,000 is basically an almost blown GTI. It will need work, but if it’s one of the common issues, you can get yourself a decent car after some work! Expect 150,000+ miles.
Golf R: You never see them get totally beaten senseless, but a broken Golf R will sell for $7,000. Still isn’t truly cheap, but they are rare.
Where to Find One for Sale
Mk6 Golfs, GTIs, and Golf Rs are plenty new-enough to be on popular car sales websites like Carvana, Autotrader, and the like. They’re a little too old for CPO now, but are still within range of most major car buying methods.
You’ll find the best deals on Craigslist and Facebook. The vast majority of them will be for sale there.
They haven’t reached auction sites much yet. They aren’t rare or old enough.
What to Ask a Seller
Go-to questions should include:
“Has the rear main seal been replaced?”
“Any check engine codes?” To sus out a P2015 intake manifold code, or other things.
“How much oil does the car consume?” If answered honestly, it’ll give you a good idea of PCV health and engine health.
“Has it been tuned?” Not a dealbreaker, but if the car is heavily modded, then it may be an issue.
Competitors to Consider
In this range of cars, your main competitors to the GTI will be stuff like 2006-2011 Civic Si if you’re looking for something simpler, or a 2007-2012 Subaru WRX if you want similar power and space.
Alternatives to the Golf 2.5/TDI are going to be 2006-2011 Civic EXs and LXs, Toyota Corolla, and normal stuff like that. Though the Golf is leagues ahead in refinement and comfort.
Golf R is more in-line with a 2002-2012 Subaru WRX STI competitor in terms of price and performance, or a Subaru Legacy GT.
Another good reference to check out for photos is Paddy McGrath’s Project GTI on Speedhunters.
Pop Culture References
The Mk6 Golf doesn’t get a lot of love from video games. The sole appearance of the Mk6 GTI in a racing game is Forza Motorsport 4, and generally speaking the Mk6 Golf R is the car that gets featured. The Golf R is in GT5 and GT6, and in every Forza Motorsport after the 4th one.
Sadly, no silver screen appearances for the Mk6 Golf. Boo!
Every car has a collection of common questions that pop up in forums and Facebook groups whenever new blood joins in. We hope a lot of those have been answered above, but here are some Mk6 Golf FAQs we wanted to dig into.
“Are they reliable?” Actually, yes, very. These cars are insanely stout and robust, well worthy of track duty, and daily driving. The issues may seem scary, but they are fixable and worthwhile.
“Can GTIs/Rs make power?” Yes. Reliably, and easily. Both have forged internals from factory, and are overbuilt with extra cooling. Power is easy, and reliable.
“Do I need AAA to own one?” No. You’ll be fine. Just don’t forget to maintain it.
“Are they trackable?” Yes! I do it all the time, and my car hasn’t exploded.
Downloadable Paperback Car Bible
If you’re old school and like to keep reference notes on paper, or you’re just a completionist and want a free accessory for your Golf, download one of our famous paperback Car Bibles. Since the different versions of this car have different requirements, make sure you grab the right one for your trim:
Well, you have to also print it to put it on paper. But you knew what we meant.
You’ve reached the end of the Mk6 Golf Car Bible and are about to scroll into the comment section. If any questions were left unanswered in the text above, try posing it in the space below! Unsolicited VW tips are also welcome.