Mine’s a VW Golf; what’s yours called?

23 April, 2014

The VW Golf has been around for years and, looking at the latest model, it’s easy to see why. The Golf may be a little more expensive than its rivals, but it also looks better built, both inside and out. And it has an excellent range of engines from the very economical BlueMotion up to the super-fast R model.  Another strength of the car is the interior trim, which feels a class above its rivals. The dashboard in particular is built from soft-touch plastics and is very easy to use. Even the entry-level S model gets decent levels of equipment including a DAB digital radio and air conditioning, while top-of-the-range models can be customised to match an executive saloon.

Environmentally friendly too

The cleanest Golf BlueMotion model returns an impressive 88.3mpg and is exempt from road tax because of its low CO2 emissions. The 2.0-litre 184 TDI model is much quicker, but can still manage almost 70mpg and low CO2 emissions, meaning road tax is just £20. The new petrol-electric hybrid Volkswagen Golf GTE does a good job of offering the best of both worlds – performance close to the GTI’s, economy of 188mpg, and road tax exemption. It can also run for 30 miles on electric power alone, meaning short journeys cost pennies.

Comfort and performance inside and out

The Golf’s standard suspension does an excellent job of soaking up the worst that UK roads can throw at it and buyers can also specify suspension that can be adjusted for comfort or more sporty driving. Even the stiffest setting is comfortable, though. In the same way, the Golf GTI’s suspension is stiffer and lower to improve driving dynamics but still manages to be comfortable.

At speed the Golf’s interior is extremely quiet and relaxing on the motorway, and all models get an armrest for the front-seat passengers, a DAB digital radio, air-con, and a Bluetooth phone connection. It’s also a spacious family hatchback, with 15mm more rear legroom in the back than the old model and also a decent-sized boot of 380 litres. The back seats also split 60:40 to reveal a total of 1,270 litres of capacity, and the boot gets a 12V plug, luggage hooks and a low load lip. If you need more load space, the Golf Estate is significantly bigger again. There are plenty of storage spaces too including a cubby under the front armrest, a glovebox that can be cooled by the car’s air-conditioning and numerous cup holders.

Dependable could be boring, but not when it’s a Golf

The latest Golf got a five-star safety rating when it was tested by Euro NCAP, with every area of protection being rated as good, apart from the driver’s right leg area, which was marked as ‘adequate’. Even the basic S model gets airbags all round, a post-collision braking system (which applies the brakes to stop the car being involved in a secondary accident), and a tyre pressure warning buzzer.

A range of quiet engines make the Golf great to drive in any situation

The basic 1.2-litre TSI 85 petrol isn’t particularly fast, but the model up, the 1.2-litre TSI 105, is significantly quicker and keeps the same impressive economy of 57.6mpg. If economy is paramount, then the BlueMotion model is the best bet and it still gets from 0-60mph in 10.5 seconds. All the diesels are economical, though, and the 2.0-litre TDI 150 drops 0-60mph down to 8.6 seconds, while the 2.0 TDI 184 can dispatch it in 7.5 seconds.

Although all Golfs are fun to drive, the Golf GTI and Golf R models offer even more driving thrills. The GTI is quick with 217bhp and 0-60mph taking 6.5 seconds, while the R is quicker still, taking 4.9 seconds to get from 0-60mph. The latter also gets Volkswagen’s 4MOTION four-wheel-drive system.

More for your money  

The cheapest Golf still gets good levels of equipmnet such as a DAB radio, Bluetooth phone connnection, air-con and cruise control, while SE models add adaptive cruise control (which maintains a safe distance from the car in front, before returning to a pre-set cruising speed), autonomous emergency braking, and VW’s Driver Alert system, which warns you when to take a break. GT models, meanwhile, get part-leather seats, front and rear parking sensors and sat-nav.

Despite the improved technology and efficiency, the new Golf will cost you about the same as an equivalent version of the current car. Isn’t it good to know that the V in VW still stands for VFM?