The Sunday Times Driving Placeholder
The new VW Golf not only retains its place as the most appealing small family car out there but also stretches its lead with a lighter, more responsive chassis and an improved cabin.
Pros
Quality evident inside and out
Improved ride and handling
Desirable badge
Cons
Design could be considered a little dull
Quite expensive
Tighter inside than you might think

Volkswagen Golf Mk 7 review (2013-on)

Since the mid-1970s and through six successive generations, the Golf has been the standard by which all other small family cars have been judged.

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Top 100 Family VW Golf

What is the Volkswagen Golf Mk 7?

Since the mid-1970s and through six successive generations, the Golf has been the standard by which all other small family cars have been judged. The current version is the seventh generation of the car and a completely different beast from its predecessor, using an all-new platform shared with its fellow VW Group rival, the Audi A3.

The new Golf has shed 100kg in weight, despite being longer and wider than its predecessors, and is more efficient and better to drive than ever before. To the casual observer, however, the Golf Mk7’s shape is more evolution than revolution with VW realising its design continuity is a major part of the car’s enduring success.


Search for and buy a used VW Golf on driving.co.uk


While the Golf has no outstanding features for competitors to take aim at – it’s not the fastest or the most practical car of its type, for example – it continues to exude quality on almost every front and rules its position between the bargain and luxury family hatchbacks.

The drive

As usual, Volkswagen is offering a wide variety of Golf variants to choose from, ranging from the entry-level 1.2-litre TSI with 84bhp to the wild 286bhp Golf R, with the 168bhp GTD and 217bhp GTI versions in between (due from summer 2013). There’s also a four-wheel-drive 4Motion, an estate, a super-frugal Bluemotion model and even, should you wish to go completely “green”, a pure-electric eGolf.

>What this all means is a big variety in handling and feel on the road but many buyers will opt for one of the mid-powered diesels for their impressive refinement, low-revs torque, range and economy. However, low-mileage users should consider the more affordable 121bhp 1.4-litre petrol engine, which offers a terrific drive, staying planted to the road and eagerly pointing itself through the corners. It also yields arguably the best combination of driver appeal, efficiency and costs, coming in at £18,990 for the three-door body (£19,645 for the five-door) and managing 0-62mph in 9.3sec and an impressive 53.3mpg (claimed for the combined urban/extra urban cycle).

The interior

Golfinterior

As with the Mk 6 Golf, there’s nothing special about the amount of space on offer inside a Golf, nor the use of materials, yet somehow its cabin contrives to be a more pleasant place to sit than almost any other in the class. While rivals appear to have a thin veneer of soft-touch comfort applied to their cabins, the Golf’s seems to have been engineered in at design level. Real or perceived, it’s a neat trick.

The Golf’s controls are simplicity itself, so while they may not look as complex as those of other cars, for sheer ease of use their near-perfect ergonomics still command the class.

The one to buy

Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI 122 SE 5dr

Specifications

  • Price: £19,645 (correct at first publication)
  • Engine: 1390cc, 4 cylinders
  • Power: 121bhp @ 5000rpm
  • Torque: 148lb ft @ 1800-4000rpm
  • Transmission: 6-speed manual
  • Acceleration: 0-62mph in 9.3sec
  • Top speed: 126mph
  • Fuel: 53.3mpg (combined)
  • CO2: 123g/km
  • Road Tax Band: D
  • Dimensions: L 4255mm, W 1799mm, H 1452mm

 

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