Golf SE 1.6 TDI 5-dr
Golf is not only Europes
best-selling car, its
also the best-
selling VW in the UK. With more
than 30 million of the previous six
generations sold, the all-new
seventh-gen model comes to market
with less pounds, more inches,
and a good stock of hi-tech features.
So is it now as good as it gets?
NO DOUBT ABOUT IT the Golf is the one by which all other
family cars are judged. Strip away all of the latest Golf's kudos-enhancing
badging and most people would still identify it as 'a Golf'.
This new one looks familiar but at the same time crisper (note the sharp creases
in its flanks and the angular back light units); and more rock solid than any
previous Golf. And while it is now longer and wider, it's still got a practical
footprint 1,799mm across by 4,255mm nose to tail.
These new Golf models all sit on the VW Group's new all-singing, all-dancing
MQB platform (you really don't need to know any more that the fact that it's
very good and will henceforth underpin all new front-driven VWs). The Golf makes
use of MacPherson struts at the front and a sophisticated rear multi-link suspension
set-up. Less powerful versions get an equally competent torsion beam rear suspension
system don't worry, you're not being short-changed because even
the torsion bar models ride and handle very well indeed.
cabins have long been quality items (a quintessential part of their appeal).
The new Mark 7s provide more of the same but with a tad more panache. Sharp-eyed
drivers will notice that the centre console is now angled towards them; the
overall ergonomics are spot on, as too is the fit and finish. Every aspect of
the interior displays a strong sense of class.
Setting an ideal driving
position is easy,
and takes but seconds.
From behind the
beautifully crafted, flat-
wheel visibility is
fine all round; placing
the Golf is a no-brainer
even in cut-and-thrust
rush hour traffic...
Some wag once said it was a shame that Apple doesn't design cars
well, maybe not the whole thing, but they've definitely influenced the driver-car
interface which today is as critical an aspect of any car as the handling and
ride. In the Golf, a 5.8-inch screen defines the multimedia centre and, iPhone-style,
you swipe to move seamlessly between menus.
Given the extra external millimetres, more space is part of the family-friendly
seventh-gen package: 20mm additional front legroom; more room for shoulders
(30mm) as well as elbows (20mm); and some extra rear legroom (15mm). And, despite
losing 28mm in overall height, you can still take your head with you.
And giving you no excuse not to keep your Golf neat and tidy is a generous selection
of storage solutions from large, deep bins in the front doors and lined, sliding
drawers under both front seats to a large glovebox that's lit and cooled, a
central armrest (it adjusts for height as well as sliding fore and aft) with
a good-sized storage box below and, thanks to motorists' love affair with drive-through
fast-food eateries a lifestyle trend that can be laid fairly and
squarely at America's door enough cup-holders to go round.
Actually, cup-holders aren't the frivolous items some might imagine
remember the woman who successfully sued McDonald's after spilling scalding
coffee in her lap in a stationary car? The resulting third degree burns she
suffered (the coffee was 180-degrees-hot) cost McDonald's $2.7 million in damages.
Had there been cup-holders in the car she was sitting in then the incident might
never have happened.
The Golf's front pair of black cloth-upholstered seats are both adjustable for
height and lumbar; setting an ideal driving position is easy, and takes but
seconds. From behind the beautifully crafted, flat-bottomed, leather-rimmed
multifunction wheel (its soft-grain leather rim is a real pleasure to hold)
visibility is fine all round and placing the Golf is a no-brainer even in cut-and-thrust
rush hour traffic. An electric parking brake with auto hold is a doddle to use
and makes life infinitely easier in stop-start traffic.
kit on the SE (only the second rung up the Golf ladder) is agreeably comprehensive
and includes hi-tech features such as Driver Profile Selection (multiple drive
programs), VW's XDS (an electronic differential lock for improved traction and
handling), battery regeneration (energy recovery during braking), a city emergency
braking system, and adaptive cruise control.
standard is semi-automatic AirCon (with dust and pollen filter), electric windows,
electrically-adjustable and heated door mirrors, multifunction computer (with
visual gear change recommendation), auto lights and wipes, auto-dimming driving
mirror, and speed-sensitive power assisted steering.
No arguments about the
Golfs family car status
five adults can
travel in comfort, with
loads of space in all
and thats true for long
as well as short hops.
And they can be ferried
from A to B with
And there's more: a well-specced media system (5.8-inch colour touchscreen,
DAB digital radio, dash-mounted CD player with eight speakers, SD card reader,
music playback from MP3, WMA and AAC files, title and cover art display, Aux-in
socket, and Multi Device Interface with iPod cable), heat insulating green tinted
glass, drive-away auto locking, and a multifunction leather steering wheel.
And there'll be no arguments about the Golf's 'family' car status
five adults can travel in comfort, with generous headroom and loads of space
in all directions; and that's true for long as well as short hops. Rear passengers
also enjoy a very relaxed backrest angle along with a big, comfy and wide centre
armrest with twin (and cleverly adjustable) cup-holders and their
own dedicated air vents. And they can be ferried from A to B accompanied by
meaningful amounts of luggage.
The regular-shaped boot can swallow 380 litres and comes with a variable-height
floor for extra versatility. Dropping the 60:40 split-folding rear backrests
liberates more cargo space; a lot more a flat-floored 1,270 litres
to be precise. And there's a large load-through hatch. Load-wise, the new Golf
has all the bases covered.
Whilst 'Golf' and 'GTI' are almost inextricably linked, most Golfs aren't tearaways.
The 103bhp 1.6 turbodiesel we drove is quick enough to go with the flow (0-62mph
in 10.7 seconds and a top speed of 119mph) but it's no hooligan. Not does it
need to be. Petrolheads can worship their GTI icons but for the majority of
Golf customers, it's the 'per gallon' not the 'per hour' number that's the more
them, the 1.6 TDI's official fuel consumption figures will generate a warm glow
of satisfaction in their wallets: Urban 61.4; Extra-urban
85.6; Combined 74.3mpg. After 500 miles, our 1.6 TDI was registering
an average of 57.8mpg! Commendable because (as we're fond of saying) we don't
try to drive economically so that real-world owners can expect to better our
results. Ensuring running costs are kept to the minimum is a smooth-operating
Stop/Start system bolstered by the 1.6's road tax-avoiding 'green' 99g/km of
makes the 1.6 so relaxing to drive is the 184lb ft of torque on tap from a low
1,500rpm. The four-pot, 16-valve TDI unit pulls smoothly from low revs; and
when you need to press on you'll find the five-speed 'box comes with a slick,
light and precise gearchange action.
nice feature is the new Driver Profile Selection. A practical 'toy' for the
boys, Driver Select allows the driver to switch (via the touchscreen) between
various driving profiles: Normal, Sport, Eco and Individual.
The 1.6 TDIs official
fuel consumption figures
will generate a warm
glow of satisfaction
in drivers wallets:
61.4 urban, 85.6 extra-
urban and 74.3mpg
After 500 miles our 1.6
TDI was registering
an average of 57.8mpg!
And we dont go
out of our way to drive
And within each profile you can mix and match different settings for engine,
steering, and even (to aid economy) the AirCon. Our favourite, not surprisingly,
was Sport not just for the keener throttle response but also for
the slightly sharper turn-in and extra weighting at the helm.
The steering is precise and, combined with excellent body control, decent grip
at each corner and confident road manners, the Golf is as nimble through corners
as it is predictable everywhere.
Deceptively understated, even lower-power versions do point-to-point with a
willing German work ethic whatever speed you want to motor along
at, 45mph or 90mph, the Golf just gets on with it.
In spite of its reassuring handling qualities, the Golf rolling
on 205/55 Continental rubber and 16-inch alloys serves up a supple
ride underscored by refinement; big bumps are barely noticed and our memorable
(as in 'memorably bad') British roads are made to feel much better than they
really are. In truth, it might be cheaper for councils to hand out free Golfs
instead of blowing billions bodging the blacktop!
Seven has always been considered a lucky number; it certainly works its magic
with the Mark 7 Golf although luck has very little to do with
this latest-generation model which retains its position as the world's Numero
Uno family hatchback. MotorBar
Golf SE 1.6 TDI 5-Dr | £20,710
Maximum speed: 119mph | 0-62mph: 10.7 seconds | Average Test MPG: 57.8mpg
Power: 103bhp | Torque: 184lb ft | CO2 99g/km