Golf 1.4 TSI SE 5-dr
has the easiest job in the car
styling business? It must surely
be the man tasked with designing
the new Golf. Heres
his brief in
short: How should the new car look?
Exactly like the last one, please.
WELL, I SUPPOSE there are differences in this all-new Golf, which now broaches
its seventh generation. When you see a Mk7 coming, it looks lower and wider
at the front. That's not too surprising, since the new Golf is indeed wider
and lower than its predecessor, as well as being 56mm longer.
If there are few surprises on the outside, there are even fewer inside. That's
no bad thing as the Golf has long been a benchmark of good ergonomics.
There's a new angled dashboard, which looks good, and depending on trim level,
the dash materials do differ, but all versions I tried were impeccably finished,
with extremely tactile plastics.
It's not quite as plush as the Golf's sister car, the Audi A3, as you'd expect
but you might be surprised at how close the Skoda Octavia that I've just
driven now runs it in terms of quality and materials.
extended wheelbase (59mm more than the Mk6) provides more interior space and
a larger boot than before
you now get 380 litres of luggage space, compared to 350 previously. And there's
plenty of headroom and legroom for four tall adults.
The Golf delivers an
on body roll and big
So how does the new Golf drive? The prospects were always good (the Audi A3,
which shares the Golf's so-called 'MQB' platform, is a brilliant drive), and
the Golf does indeed meet those expectations.
In fact, it's hard to think of a family car that has a better ride/handling
balance. Yes, the suspension set-up is firm, but it's never uncomfortable.
And the firmness helps deliver an impressively composed cornering experience.
The extra visual width of the Golf translates into a confidently planted stance
that's small on body roll and big on grip. All of which bodes very well for
VW's Golf GTI, arriving later in 2013.
On some SE and GT versions there's a choice of driving modes: a 'first' for
the Golf. You can select Eco, Sport, Normal and Individual, each one changing
the throttle mapping and engine management. The differences aren't stupendous
but they do at least give the driver something to play with. A fifth profile
comes on cars with the optional Adaptive Chassis Control, which features electrically-adjustable
So which engine should you buy? If you're a company car driver, you'll probably
be pushed towards a diesel because it's more economical and has lower CO2 emissions.
But the gap between petrol and diesel in this regard are not as much as you
105bhp 1.6 TDI does 74.3mpg and emits 99g/km, while the 122bhp 1.4 TSI has figures
of 54.3mpg and 120g/km. If you really need to save fuel, consider the 1.4 TSI
ACT, which has clever technology that shuts down two of the four cylinders when
they're not needed and the transition between modes is utterly indiscernible.
It'll get a claimed 60.1mpg and emits 109g/km.
Once again with
a VW Group car,
forced to say
that petrol is better
again with a VW Group car, I'm forced to say that petrol is better than diesel.
For starters, petrol versions cost less to buy
the 105bhp 1.6 TDI model in basic S trim costs almost £20,000 which is £855
more than the 122bhp 1.4 TSI SE, which has extra equipment, is a more rewarding
drive and comes with a six-speed gearbox rather than a five-speeder.
If you've been driving a diesel for a while, you might have forgotten what a
joy driving a sweet-running petrol can be. VW's latest diesels are far from
unrefined, but they're definitely much noisier than the petrols. The 1.6 TDI,
for example, suffers from a loud booming hum at low revs.
In contrast, the TSI is a gem of a unit: eager to rev, yet with decent low-down
pull too, and much more refined than the diesel. And don't discount the 1.2
TSI engine; available in 83bhp and 103bhp guise, it's a crackingly sweet little
Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI SE 5-dr | £18,710
Maximum speed: 126mph | 0-62mph: 9.3 seconds | Overall MPG: 54.3mpg
Power: 120bhp | Torque: 148lb ft | CO2 120g/km