If you only tick one option box on your GTI, make it the Performance Pack. The extra power and tech is welcome, though what hasn't changed is the Golf's superb dual personality: It's a really comfortable and practical daily driver that can switch to an engaging back-road blaster in an instant. The Performance Pack makes it better at the latter without harming its day-to-day usability.
Petrol 47.1 combined MPG
Location: Preston Motor Park Fiat and Volvo - Stock At This Dealer
All vehicles can be purchased from your local Motorparks dealer regardless of their physical stock location.
Best part-ex price paid
Ready to test drive
Low Finance Available
Qualifies for Warranty4life
The Volkswagen Golf GTI is a hot hatch that truly covers all the bases. Four decades of history has made the seventh-generation car the most complete yet
CO2: 139 g/km
Emissions and Fuel
* Price does not include road fund license
Electric front windows, Electric rear windows, Heat insulated tinted glass 65% light absorbing from B pillar back, Heated rear windscreen, Rain sensor, Rear window wash/wipe with intermittent delay, Windscreen wipers/ intermittent wipe + 4 position delay
ABS, Electronic parking brake with auto hold, ESP with EDL + ASR, HBA (Hydraulic Brake Assist), Red brake calipers
Front + rear carpet mats
Lowered sports suspension
Bluetooth Telephone preparation
ACC - Adaptive cruise control with front assist, distance monitoring, city emergency brake and speed limiter, Driver alert system, Driver profile selection, PAS - speed related, Ultrasonic front and rear optical and audible parking sensors
'Lights On' warning buzzer, Brake pad wear indicator warning light, Exterior temperature gauge, Flat tyre indicator, Instrument cluster in white, Multi function display colour screen, Multifunction computer, Rev counter, Trip and service interval display, Warning buzzer and light for front seatbelts unfastened
Auto dimming rear view mirror, Body colour door mirrors with integral indicators, Electric folding door mirrors with puddle lamps, Electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, Reverse activated kerb-view adjustment on passenger's door mirror
Chrome air vent surrounds, Chrome-plated light switch surround, Cyclone decorative inserts, Gloss black decorative inserts in centre console
CD/MP3/WMA, USB and SD card reader, aux-in, DAB Digital radio, MDI with USB/iPod connection cables
Exterior Body Features
Body colour bumpers, Body colour door handles, Chrome trimmed front air intake surrounds, Chrome trimmed front fog light surrounds, Honeycomb radiator grille - black, Rear diffuser, Rear roof spoiler, Red radiator grille louvres, Twin chrome exhaust tailpipes
Automatic coming/leaving home lighting function, Automatic headlights, Bi-Xenon headlights and headlight washers with LED daytime running lights, Cherry red rear light cluster, LED front fog lights, LED rear lights, LED rear number plate lights, Range adjustable headlights
Air conditioning - 2 zone electronic climate control, Dust/pollen filter
12V socket in luggage compartment, 3 spoke steering wheel, Bag hook in luggage compartment, Black headlining, Boot lashing points, Chrome-plated electric mirror adjustment switch surround, Chrome-plated electric window button surround, Front centre armrest with storage box and rear air vents, Grab handles, Height/reach adjust steering wheel, Illuminated door sills, Load through provision, Lockable, illuminated, cooled glovebox, Luggage compartment cover, Multifunction leather steering wheel with leather gear knob/handbrake grip, Passenger underseat drawer, Rear centre armrest with 2 cupholders, Rear cupholder, Stainless steel pedals, Storage box in centre console with cover, Storage box in luggage compartment, Storage compartment in roof console with cover, Storage compartments in doors, Variable boot floor, height adjustable and removable
Ambient lighting, Courtesy light delay, Front footwell illumination, Front reading lights, Luggage compartment lighting, Rear reading lights, White adjustable panel illumination
3 point height adj front seatbelts + pretensioners, 3 rear 3 point seatbelts, Child locks on rear doors, Door open warning reflectors, Driver/Front Passenger airbags, Driver/Passenger whiplash optimised head restraints, Drivers knee airbag, Electronic tyre pressure monitoring, Front and rear curtain airbags, Front passenger airbag deactivation, Front side airbags, Fuel cut off safety device, Pre crash system, Warning triangle and first aid kit holder
3 rear headrests, 60/40 split folding rear seat, Driver/front passenger seat height adjustment, Front seat back storage pockets, Isofix preparation for 2 rear child seats, Removable armrests
Alarm with interior protection, Anti-theft wheel bolts, Electronic engine immobiliser, Remote central locking with 2 remote folding keys
Illuminated vanity mirrors
Wheels - Spare
Steel space saver spare wheel
|Badge Engine CC:||2.0|
|Based On ID:||N|
|Coin Series:||GTI [Perform Pack]|
|Insurance Group 1 - 50 Effective January 07:||29E|
|Man Corrosion Perforation Guarantee - Years:||12|
|Manufacturers Paintwork Guarantee - Years:||3|
|NCAP Adult Occupant Protection %:||94|
|NCAP Child Occupant Protection %:||89|
|NCAP Overall Rating - Effective February 09:||5|
|NCAP Pedestrian Protection %:||65|
|NCAP Safety Assist %:||71|
|Service Interval Frequency - Months:||12|
|Service Interval Mileage:||10000|
|Standard manufacturers warranty - Mileage:||60000|
|Standard manufacturers warranty - Years:||3|
|Vehicle Homologation Class:||M1|
|Noise Level dB(A):||72|
|Standard Euro Emissions:||EURO 6|
|Engine Layout:||FRONT TRANSVERSE|
|Fuel Delivery:||TURBO DIRECT INJECTION|
|Number of Valves:||16|
|EC Combined (mpg):||47.1|
|EC Directive 1999/100/EC Applies:||True|
|EC Extra Urban (mpg):||55.4|
|EC Urban (mpg):||37.7|
|0 to 62 mph (secs):||6.4|
|Engine Power - BHP:||230|
|Engine Power - KW:||169|
|Engine Power - PS:||True|
|Engine Power - RPM:||4700|
|Engine Torque - LBS.FT:||258|
|Engine Torque - MKG:||35.7|
|Engine Torque - NM:||350|
|Engine Torque - RPM:||1500|
|Tyre Size Front:||225/40 R18|
|Tyre Size Rear:||225/40 R18|
|Tyre Size Spare:||SPACE SAVER|
|Wheel Type:||18" ALLOY|
|Height (including roof rails):||N|
|Width (including mirrors):||2027|
|Fuel Tank Capacity (Litres):||50|
|Gross Vehicle Weight:||1850|
|Luggage Capacity (Seats Down):||1270|
|Luggage Capacity (Seats Up):||380|
|Max. Loading Weight:||543|
|Max. Roof Load:||75|
|Max. Towing Weight - Braked:||1600|
|Max. Towing Weight - Unbraked:||690|
|No. of Seats:||5|
|Turning Circle - Kerb to Kerb:||10.9|
This much improved version of the seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf might just be all the car you'll ever need. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.
Volkswagen's Golf is the family hatchback against which all others are judged - and in seventh generation form has proved to be the best selling version of this car ever made. Now it's got a smarter look, an all-new 1.5-litre TSI engine option, more sophisticated media connectivity and a range of important detail changes. If you're shopping in this segment, you might be asking yourself why you should buy a Golf. But perhaps the more pertinent question is whether there's now really any reason why you shouldn't.
Volkswagen's modern era 'Peoples' Car', the Golf family hatchback, has been bought by an awful lot of people. Launched back in 1974 to replace the iconic Beetle, it was the model that saved the company through 29 million sales and six generations that brought us to the MK7 model that launched here in 2013. This seventh generation version has sold very well for the Wolfsburg brand, but in recent times, the launch of tough new rivals like new versions of Vauxhall's Astra and Renault's Megane has caused some in the market to wonder whether the premium required to own a Golf in the family hatchback sector is really worth paying. This improved version is Volkswagen's response. Plusher, safer, smarter, more efficient and higher-tech, its goals actually lie beyond simply being better than a Focus or an Astra. This rejuvenated Golf also aspires to appeal to buyers who might be considering premium-badged compact hatches from brands like BMW, Audi or Mercedes. Which gives you an idea of just how good Wolfsburg thinks this car is. Are they right? Let's find out.
Most of the engineware in this Golf is carried over from before, but there is an all-new petrol powerplant - Volkswagen is calling it the '1.5 TSI Evo', a four cylinder petrol turbo that uses 'Active Cylinder Management' to cut off two cylinders under light to medium throttle loads. This engine develops 150PS in its standard form, but there is also a 'BlueMotion' version developing 130PS. The other change beneath the bonnet has been applied to the Golf GTI, which had fallen behind some of its rivals in the power stakes. Now, this model develops 230PS in its standard form, or 245PS if you go for the 'GTI Performance' derivative. The other mechanical change made to the line-up is the replacement of the old 6-speed DSG auto gearbox with a more efficient 7-speed unit. Otherwise, things are much as before. At the foot of the range, there's the well-regarded 1.0-litre TSI petrol unit, a three cylinder powerplant developing 110PS. Most Golf buyers though, tend to want a diesel - possibly the 115PS 1.6-litre TDI diesel, but more probably the 2.0-litre TDI, available with either 150 or 184PS. As before, only variants developing more than 120PS get multi-link rear suspension: below that level, your Golf will come with a less sophisticated torsion bean set-up. As before, there's a 2.0-litre turbocharged 4WD Golf R super hatch model at the top of the range. Or, for the same kind of money, a Golf GTE plug-in hybrid model. Want the lowest possible running costs? Then you need the all-electric e-Golf. Either way, it seems Volkswagen has almost everyone's preferences covered.
The first thing you'll notice about this revised Golf is probably its slightly sleeker front end. Many variants now get full-LED headlamps and the air intakes at either corner of the front bumper have been restyled too. Jewel-like LED tail lamps are now standard across the range and on top versions, there are smart animated flowing indicators too. Otherwise, things are much as before - which means that there's a choice between three or five-door hatch and estate bodystyles, both of which sit on the Volkswagen Group's light, stiff and very sophisticated MQB chassis. And behind the thinner multi-function steering wheel? Well, as ever, nobody does it better than this. It isn't that it feels especially plush, though the quality of materials used is excellent - and far better, incidentally, in this Wolfsburg-constructed Golf than Volkswagen's similarly priced but Mexican-built compact Jetta saloon. It's just that everything is of just the right quality and feels absolutely fit for purpose. In this revised model, the cabin has been given a lift by the addition of smarter decorative trim panels on the doors, the dash panel and the centre console, as well as classier seat covers. Out back, there's a 380-litre cargo bay in the hatch version that's much bigger than that provided by rival Focus and Astra models. It can be extended to 1,270-litres if you push forward the rear seats.
The UK line-up retains a familiar feel, beginning in the hatchback range with S and rising through SE, SE Nav, GT, R-Line, GTE, GTE Advance, e-Golf, GTD and GTD BlueLine to GTI, GTI Performance and, ultimately, R. As before, Golf prices sit in the £19,000 to £35,000 bracket. There's a £655 premium to go from the three-door bodystyle to the five-door bodyshape that 90% of British buyers choose and from there, you get the option of finding a further £700 more for the estate bodystyle if you want it. A key change with this revised model lies with media connectivity. An 8-inch 'Composition Media' screen now comes as standard. Plus there's the option of a really sophisticated 'Discover Pro' monitor, this being the first Volkswagen infotainment system to offer both touch and voice-command operation, with gesture control in addition to proximity sensors. Your dealer will also want to tell you about the clever 'Media Control' app that can be used if your Golf's infotainment set-up incorporates a wi-fi hotspot. Passengers simply connect in their 'phones or tablets via the app, then the entertainment system can be operated from anywhere in the car. As you'd expect, there's full 'Apple CarPlay' and 'Android Auto' compatibility so you can link in your smartphone and use your favourite apps in-car. And we like the new 'Security & Service' package that can automatically alert the emergency services in the event of a breakdown or an accident, book servicing and even advise you if the car is driven beyond a certain area, should you lend it out.
When this seventh generation Golf was originally launched, its efficiency figures took a big step forward, thanks to the lighter MQB chassis. Those returns still look pretty good today: the 1.6-litre TDI 115PS engine is capable of returning CO2 emissions of 105g/km and well over 70mpg in regular use. Go for the 2.0 TDI 150PS variant and the figures are 109g/km and over 67mpg. What about petrol power? Well the big news here is the replacement of a sophisticated '1.5 TSI Evo' powerplant using Volkswagen's frugal Cylinder-on-Demand technology. In its standard 150PS form, Volkswagen reckons that this unit will return close to 50mpg on the combined cycle and 110g/km of CO2. In its 'BlueMotion' 130PS guise, this engine can manage 51.1mpg and 104g/km, figures not too far off what you'd get from some diesels. We're big fans of the plug-in hybrid GTE variant, which combines a 150PS 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine and a 102PS electric motor. This variant claims a combined fuel economy figure of 166mpg and emissions of 39g/km and can travel up to 31 miles on all electric power. But of course that's nothing compared with the all-electric e-Golf variant, which offers a range of up to 186 miles from a full charge that can be pretty much completed in just 35 minutes through a combination of the car's special CCS combined charging system and a DC supply.
In the words of a previous Volkswagen Group Chairman, the only mistake a Golf can really make is to stop being a Golf, a failing you could never level at this improved seventh generation model. All the reasons you might want to buy one are satisfied here. It looks like a Golf and functions with all the quality you'd expect from the Western hemisphere's most recognised and most desired family hatch. This is what happens when all the resources of Europe's leading auto maker are focused on creating the definitive expression of conventional family motoring. True, it could be more exciting in its more affordable forms and you certainly wouldn't call it inexpensive in comparison with mainstream models in this segment. But then, this isn't a mainstream model any more, as good in every meaningful respect as the premium compact hatch models from the fancy brands that are much pricier. It is, in short, a Golf made good. Which, if you're shopping in this sector, makes it very desirable indeed.
By Jonathan Crouch
In the early years of the 21st century, Volkswagen offered the affordable convertible segment a folding metal topped roof configuration with its Eos model but by 2013, the brand had decided to switch back to fabric hoods and did so by effectively replacing the Eos with this sixth generation Golf Cabriolet. Does it make sense as a used buy? Let's find out.
2DR CONVERTIBLE (1.2, 1.4, 2.0 PETROL / 1.6, 2.0 TDI DIESEL)
Volkswagen's Golf Cabriolet. How do you see it? Historically, the first four-seater convertible of the modern era? Affordable fashion statement in Thatcher's Britain? Last of the sensibly priced soft tops before metal folding roof coupe cabrios took over? An open-topped Golf has been all of these things - and aimed to be more in the sixth generation guise launched in 2013. Back then, this was the car many thought they'd never see. Before this model after all, you had to go back as far as 1993 to find the last time we'd seen a completely new Golf Cabriolet. At the turn of the century, it seemed as if Volkswagen had lost interest in soft-topped versions of its best-selling family hatchback. Fresh air fiends were instead served by a Beetle Cabriolet launched in 2003 and the folding metal roofed Eos which arrived in 2006. Neither of which sold in the numbers the Wolfsburg brand had become used to seeing in the Golf Cabrio years. Nearly 700,000 soft-top Golfs had rolled off the Osnabruck assembly lines before production finished in 2002. So in 2013, it made a return based on an old Golf MK6 platform, initially to sell alongside the Eos and provide the fabric-topped alternative to that car that many buyers by then seemed to want. Not having to build in all the folding metal panels needed for that Eos Coupe Cabrio model meant that the Volkswagen design team could deliver sharper styling, while the resulting reduction in weight led to sharper handling. And a return to prominence of an Eighties icon. In 2014, a rare high performance Golf R variant was introduced. The Golf Cabriolet range sold steadily until it was quietly phased out at the end of 2016.
So, what we have here is an ordinary Golf MKVI hatchback with an open top - or do we? You're never quite sure with Volkswagen. After all, the last so-called 'fourth generation' Golf Cabrio was in fact based on a MK3 hatch model but had a MK4 hatch model front grille tacked on. We didn't get a fifth generation Golf Cabriolet - unless of course you count the Eos - and this sixth generation car was an interesting mix that under the skin saw it fabricated using a Golf front end, an Eos middle and Audi A3 Cabrio rear. Without the Audi, this car probably wouldn't have existed at all. Not only did the Ingolstadt car offer this Golf many of its oily bits but it can also be credited with proving a ready market for fabric-topped convertibles of this kind at a time when many thought the folding metal roof the only way forward. That's the back story. What's important though, is that this design looks just right, completely different from its hatchback stablemate from the heavily raked windscreen backwards. The aesthetics are helped in no small measure by this being the first Golf Cabrio to do away with an ugly roof bar arching 'strawberry punnet handle'-style over the middle of the car. There's no need for that in these days of automatically activating roll-over devices that can spring from behind the rear headrests in the blink of an eye, leaving this car free to boast a deck as clean as that of a Riviera speed boat. In size, it's a fraction longer than a Golf hatch, but 20cm shorter than an Eos thanks to the more compact rear end that rather cleverly incorporates the fabric roof - and we say that because of the way that it folds. Activate the process and the upper side of the hood's leading edge (that's the segment that directly mates to the windscreen frame) covers the entire top surface of the roof storage box, eliminating the need for a fiddly tonneau cover. This in turn means that the roof can swing open in only 9.5 seconds (it takes a couple of seconds longer to close) and can operate either way at speeds of up to 18mph. And luggage space? Well like us, you might well be approaching this car thinking that use of a fabric hood rather than a metal folding top would mean a larger boot - but it isn't that simple. With the roof down, you get 250-litres of luggage capacity (10-litres shy of a MK1 Audi A3 Cabrio) which when you're driving al fresco is a useful improvement over metal folding top rivals from this era, say a Renault Megane CC with 211-litres or Volkswagen's own Eos with 205-litres. The problem is that when you put up the roof, the space on offer in the boot doesn't improve. Hard-top convertible rivals in contrast, whose boots of course must be huge to store all their complicated origami-folding panelling, do much better with the top in place, something like an Eos offering 380-litres of space in this form. To be fair, this Golf could still match that if you weren't using its 50:50 split-folding rear seats and were able to push them forward. Essentially then, it's a pretty practical proposition. If you do want to use the rear seats for people, the potential space on offer looks unpromising, given the pert rear of this car. And sure enough, you have to be pretty agile to get at them with the roof up, despite the easy-entry function that sees the front seats slide forward as you fold them. Once you're installed in the back though, it's actually reasonably spacious, with decent adult head and legroom that'll be fine for short to medium-length journeys and ideal for children. The only issue is really elbow room, given that the sides of the cabin curve inwards to accommodate the roof mechanism. There's plenty of elbow room in the front though - indeed plenty of room all round in a driving position that you can quickly tailor to your needs with a height-adjustable seat and a reach and rake-adjustable wheel. The dash and controls are lifted straight from the Golf hatch, so there's plenty of quality of display with careful use of soft-touch plastics and nicely judged splashes of chrome. There are some nice touches too: the button in the centre of the roof release control that at a touch can operate all four electric windows. And the way that when you raise the roof with the heater blower on full, the fan automatically calms itself when the roof clicks into place. Neat.
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Most Golf MK6 Cabriolet owners we surveyed were very happy with their cars, but inevitably, there have been those who have had problems you'll want to look out for. One buyer reported thirsty oil usage with his TSI petrol model which eventually resulted in the need for a new intake manifold; this was heralded by the engine warning light coming on and the car going into 'limp' mode, so look out for that. We haven't come across any issues with the Webasto electric fabric roof. Otherwise, it's just the usual things. Keep a look out for cars that have been flogged by corporate users and ensure that servicing has been attended to diligently. Watch out for scratched or kerbed alloy wheels. And check the interior at the back for signs of unruly children.
(approx based on a 2013 Golf Cabriolet 2.0 TDI) An air filter will be priced in the £6 to £14 bracket, an oil filter will sit in the £5 to £10 bracket and a fuel filter is in the £13 to £17 bracket. The cheapest brake discs we came across sat in the £25 to £33 bracket, but we also found pricier-branded discs costing anything between £45 and £100. Brake pads are in the £10 to £25 bracket for a set but for pricier brands, you could pay up to nearly £40. A timing belt is around £35 to £48, though go for a pricier brand and you could pay as much as £219 for one. A water pump costs n the £30 to £57 bracket, though go for a pricier brand and you could pay as much as £83 for one. Shock absorbers sit in the £52 to £75 bracket, though go for a pricier brand and you could pay as much as £132 to £150 for one. A radiator sits in the £88 to £92 bracket.
Those likely to be buying a car of this kind may like the idea of being seen in a sportscar but probably wouldn't want to own one. Not for them a rock-hard ride, pin-sharp steering and a cramped cabin. Family hatchback-based convertibles must instead major on day-to-day usability, prioritising ride over handling, comfort and convenience over response and power. So it is here, though that's not to say there isn't some fun to be had when punting this car along, despite its 183kg weight penalty over an ordinary Golf hatch. In fact, so agile does it feel compared to an Eos that we were surprised to find this car to be just 42kgs lighter than its drop-top stablemate. Really, there are three things that you notice about this car after even a very short drive - and all of them are very Volkswagen virtues: comfort, refinement and build quality. Comfort first. The multi-link suspension that the Wolfsburg designers have perfected so well in the Golf hatch is here used to such good effect that it's true to say that no other car in the class from this era rides better - even Renault's softly sprung Megane CC. That's assuming you don't order the tautly-sprung Golf Cabriolet GT model, which gets a firmer set-up this car doesn't need to handle the twisty stuff in its stride. It doesn't crash through the potholes either with shockwaves reverberating around the car, as would be the case if you were in some other cheap convertibles (and even some not so cheap ones). This comes courtesy of a programme of structural body reinforcement so comprehensive that the result is a structure that at the launch of this model was claimed to be the stiffest of any car in the Volkswagen Group, a portfolio remember, which also includes drop-tops from Bentley and Lamborghini. As for refinement, well it's quite possible to drive roof-down at the national limit and hold a normal conversation with your front seat passenger, especially if you've clipped the rather fiddly wind deflector into place behind you. Push the control behind the handbrake to raise the electro-hydraulic roof (which you can do in just 11s at speeds of up to 18mph) and you'll find that the Webasto fabric roof is fitted with an insulating layer effective enough to make the cabin feel just as it does in the Golf hatch. Even indeed in the variant you'd expect to be the noisiest, the 105PS 1.6-litre TDI diesel. We'd certainly expected this engine to be more vocal, particularly as you have to work the five-speed gearbox quite hard if you're to make really rapid progress. Sixty occupies 12.1s from rest on the way to 117mph, about the same kind of performance you can expect from the entry-level petrol unit, a 1.2-litre TSI engine that also develops 105PS. This one though, you have to row along with the six-speed gear lever a little more thanks to a torque figure of 175Nm that compares unfavourably with the 250Nm you get in the 1.6-litre diesel. Above these two engines, there is again a direct petrol/diesel choice, with buyers asked to choose between 122 or 160PS 1.4-litre petrol units, the latter capable of rest to sixty in 8.4s on the way to 134mph. The alternative is the Volkswagen group's familiar 140PS 2.0-litre TDI diesel. At the top of the range sits the 210PS 2.0 TSI turbo petrol unit borrowed from the Golf GTI but in this case mated to a slick 7-speed DSG semi-automatic gearbox. In 2014, Volkswagen also introduced a 300PS 2.0 TSI Golf R Cabriolet model.
This, the best looking drop-top Golf ever made, attracted people who would probably never have bought the brand's metal folding roofed Eos model, even though it was no cheaper when specified like-for-like. The reasons why are many. For a start, this car offers affordable lower-powered engines at the foot of its range, so when it was new, lead-in prices looked more attractive. But it's more than that. This Golf is perkier than its Eos counterpart ever was, both to look at and to drive, comparing well on both counts to the best of its rivals. It also feels more substantially built than anything else in the class from this era, rides beautifully and is impressively refined. Yes, there are drawbacks - it certainly isn't cheap and the handling isn't geared to suit enthusiasts - but both of these issues apply equally to most obvious rivals. Ultimately, it's a classy contender and can be credited as being one of the models that turned the tide of public preference away from metal folding roofs and back to smart classy fabric tops in cars of this kind. A landmark then, just as Golf Cabriolets have always been.
The Volkswagen Golf has altered almost unrecognisably across its six generations but feels very familiar in this improved seventh generation form. June Neary checks it out.
Volkswagen's designers must be a frustrated bunch. They see other manufacturers giving the old creative juices free reign, showing the green light to all kinds of exciting and unconventional designs, then they're asked to come up with a new Golf that looks ever so slightly different to the old one. There's no doubt that VW is one of the most conservative car companies when it comes to vehicle styling but then, with a car like the Golf, they can afford to be. The original MKVII Golf was very good. If this improved version could improve upon it, success would be guaranteed. When I first caught sight of the enhanced seventh generation Volkswagen Golf, I thought the German brand was trying to pull a fast one. Yes it was different, but recognisably the same. That though, is just the point. In the words of a previous Volkswagen Group Chairman, 'the only mistake a Golf can really make is to stop being a Golf'. Inside, there was more of that familiar feeling. Lots of the switchgear looked familiar but there were nicer materials, an upgraded infotainment screen and a higher quality ambience was in evident. These were my first impressions and they're likely to be those of many people who encounter the latest Golf for the first time. My advice would be to give it time because there's a real depth to this car's talents.
Conservative but classy has long been the Golf constant and this improved MKVII model diligently tows that line. So though on this model much has changed, in many ways, virtually nothing is different. The same thick rear C-pillar and near vertical tail. The same sharp crease line above the flanks. The same horizontally-barred grille. Look more closely though and important differences begin to emerge. Many variants now get full-LED headlamps and the air intakes at either corner of the front bumper have been restyled too. Jewel-like LED tail lamps are now standard across the range and on top versions, there are smart animated flowing indicators too. Otherwise, things are much as before - which means that there's a choice between three or five-door hatch and estate bodystyles, both of which sit on the Volkswagen Group's light, stiff and very sophisticated MQB chassis. Inside, the dash design is more of an eye-opener. The cabin has been given a lift by the addition of smarter decorative trim panels on the doors, the dash panel and the centre console, as well as classier seat covers. And the centre-dash infotainment screen is available in a wider range of sizes. Otherwise, it's as you were. The rear doors open wide to make childseats easy to get in and out and the fabric looks well set to withstand sticky fingers and chocolate stains. Rear legroom is adequate for tall adults so long as the front seats aren't pushed right back on their runners and a bigger boot of 380-litres ensures the Golf's competitiveness on practicality grounds. Fold the rear seats and 1,270 litres is made available.
The Golf feels much as it did before to drive - which means that I still think it to be one of the most refined cars in its class. This is thanks to a host of measures including a special sound-damping windscreen, extra thick side window glass and advanced door and window seals. The cosseting experience inside the Golf is added to by the car's clever suspension system. The multi-link rear axle technology you get in pokier models is the preserve of the top performers in the family hatchback class from a ride and handling perspective and this Golf is certainly amongst those. Well weighted speed sensitive steering and a slick manual gearbox contribute to a driving experience that isn't the sector's most thrilling but is tough to beat for sheer competence. Enginewise, the biggest news is the introduction of an all-new petrol powerplant - Volkswagen is calling it the '1.5 TSI Evo', a four cylinder petrol turbo that uses 'Active Cylinder Management' to cut off two cylinders under light to medium throttle loads. This engine develops 150PS in its standard form, but there is also a 'BlueMotion' version developing 130PS. The other change beneath the bonnet has been applied to the Golf GTI, which had fallen behind some of its rivals in the power stakes. Now, this model develops 230PS in its standard form, or 245PS if you go for the 'GTI Performance' derivative. The other mechanical change made to the line-up is the replacement of the old 6-speed DSG auto gearbox with a more efficient 7-speed unit. Otherwise, things are much as before. At the foot of the range, there's the well-regarded 1.0-litre TSI petrol unit, a three cylinder powerplant developing 110PS. Most Golf buyers though, tend to want a diesel - possibly the 115PS 1.6-litre TDI diesel, but more probably the 2.0-litre TDI, available with either 150 or 184PS. As before, only variants developing more than 120PS get multi-link rear suspension: below that level, your Golf will come with a less sophisticated torsion bean set-up. As before, there's a 2.0-litre turbocharged 4WD Golf R super hatch model at the top of the range. Or, for the same kind of money, a Golf GTE plug-in hybrid model. Want the lowest possible running costs? Then you need the all-electric e-Golf. Either way, it seems Volkswagen has almost everyone's preferences covered.
Most mainstream Golf models will be sold in the £18,000 to £25,000 bracket, with the diesels that 85% of UK customers want starting from around the £20,000 price point. There's a £655 premium to go from the three-door bodystyle to the five-door bodyshape that 90% of British buyers choose. We're talking here of pricing and quality of product that has subtly moved Volkswagen into a slightly more up-market position. So, it's fully credible a stepping stone from Focus family hatch mundanity to full premium status in this size of car.
There really wasn't much room for improvement on the MKVII Golf. The original version felt like a highly adept performer right up to the end but while this improved model looks similar in many respects, it has been advanced in areas right across the board. Quality, technology, comfort: these are the standout aspects of this latest design but the engine range takes some beating and no other family hatch can match the Golf's classy image. It's a great all-round family car.
Mr Graham Earwood - 13/08/2018, owner of a Volkswagen Golf Gti S-A
User rating: 4.5/5
Mr Raymond Hurricks - 13/07/2018, owner of a Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI 125 Match Edition 5dr
User rating: 5/5
Miss Hiab Petros - 05/01/2016, owner of a Volkswagen Golf Diesel Hatchback
User rating: 4/5