THE NEW VW GOLF
A Welcome member of the Golf club.
Few cars have a history like that of the Volkswagen Golf. In its five generations, the perennial favourite with us Brits has notched up worldwide sales of 26 million.
The first Golf rolled off the production line back in 1974, when Nixon was resigning over Watergate and IRA bombs were going off in Guildford and Birmingham.
It went on to become VW’s best selling car in Britain and the best selling car in Europe… full stop. So naturally the arrival of this new, sixth generation Golf set pulses racing throught the industry. But when the new Golf appeared on the UK’s streets it arrived with a fanfare, picking up honours from every direction, including the best small family car in this month’s What Car? awards.
And rightly so, because this Golf is a very good car indeed.
VW have made sure that no nut, bolt or dial is going to let the side down with Volkswagens latest marvel.
This new Golf is a gem, a classic design with all the technological advancements it can shoehorn in but one that still manages to keep hold of the style that its long heritage deserves.
It comes in a number of engine sizes, including a 79bhp 1.4 litre petrol engine, a 1.6 litre petrol and a 120bhp turbocharged 1.4 TSI, plus a 158bhp supercharged version. The diesel engine range includes two 1.6 litre and three 2.0s versions.
All but the smallest petrol engine have received high praise, especially the 1.4 TSI I drove the 140bhp two litre diesel GT.
This oil burner records a top speed of 130 mph and 0-62 in 9.3 seconds but it seems much quicker than these figures would suggest.
Switch on the ignition and the engine hums into lilfe. Flick the gear stick into first and you feel a staisfactory click as gear is effortlessly engaged.
Pull away and the Golf will pull steadily or, with a push of the pedal, give it more welly.
Driven sensibly the Golf will smoothly join the throngs on the road, while if really pushed the wheels will spin and you end up looking like a boy racer!
Throughout the gears the Golf delivers consistent power in perfect proportion. The gearbox is spot on, ensuring that you won’t be continually changing gears in town.
It’s thoroughly content on the shopping run but more willing to get some air in its lungs on a longer run.
And it;s on these longer runs that you really get a true indication of the refinement of this sixth incarnation of the Golf.
Volkswagen say they have taken a fresh look at reducing wind noise, and the Golf features a new design of door and window seal, along with other noise-dampening areas.
The result is that wind and road noise are almost hushed to oblivion. Coupled with a diesel engine that wouldnt upset an insomniac mouse sleeping fitfully in the glovebox, it means that the VW is as quiet inside as you would possibly want.
Even when slipped up a gear to overtake, the engine is smooth and responsive.
But this VW isn’t just refined and punchy – it handles brilliantly, too.
The steering at first feels a little on the stiff side but after a few corners you realise that it’s just that it keeps you firmly in contact with the tarmac.
You feel fully in touch with the road at all times. There’s little body roll around corners, the wheels stay firmly stuck to the tarmac and you feel completely in control at all times.
The Golf oozes quality all round and that quality is reflected on inside the cabin as well as under the bonnet.
Materials on the doors, dashboard and flooring are either cushioned or soft to touch, and look like they will stand up to the wear and tear a small family car is going to get over the years.
The dials on the dash are as simple as you are likely to see. No backlighting, just white figures on a black background giving perfect illumination of what you need to know while driving.
Heating, lights and entertainment controls are chunky and durable, lit in a low light red, although for me they wrere difficult to see in gloomyconditions. The windscreen demister was also hard to work out on the move in these cold days, and for some reason the windscreen on my test car took an eternity to clear on a couple of sub zero mornings.
I drove the sporty GT version, which had the amount of equipment you would expect from a VW.
Alloys , tinted rear windows, sat nav, quality stereo, elec windows, ipod guibbins, ABS, and a load of other sets of initials like HBA, ESP, EDL, and ASR plus more besides.
But even the entry level S trim includes air-conditioning, electric front windows, a CD player and remote central locking.
You’ll get no problems loading the kitchen sink in either!
VW Golf GT TDI
Engine: 2-litre diesel
Transmission: six peed manual
Top Speed: 130mph
Combined MPG: 58.9mpg
OTR Price: £21,455