Review – Volkswagen Golf

By Maarten Hoffmann

The Volkswagen Golf seems to have been around since the stone age and there cannot be a person in the country that has not owned one, or at least driven one, at some point in their lives.

I remember being mightily impressed when they first launched the GTi – the first hot hatch and a car that defined the phrase.

The original GTi was fast, well planted and a great shock for us Brits was the incredible reliability, as up till that time we had to make do with the miserable efforts of British Leyland, Ford and Triumph.

It sold by the bucket load and changed forever our expectation of new cars. So when they tinker with it and launch a new model, it takes cajones the size of a Panzer tank.

But then, it is German and if you can rely on anyone to get it right, it is the robot factories of Deutschland. And they haven’t let us down – the new model is excellent and continues the tradition of sound engineering, unnerving reliability and high levels of refinement.

All Golfs are now turbocharged and power starts with the 1.2, 1.4, 1.6 and 2 litre and with the 1.4 and up, have the clever knack of shutting down two cylinders when you don’t need them to save fuel. I think anything less than the 1.6 is a tad underpowered so that is where l would spend my money and they are both smooth and offer plenty of punch.

The ride and handling are both sensational with well weighted steering and suspension that offers a comfy ride and very little roll in the corners. The larger engines are smooth and refined and the Bluemotion version is remarkably fuel efficient and with solid resale values, this car is a very good long term prospect.

Although the Audi A3 holds it value even better and is cheaper to lease, l still think the Golf would be a slightly better deal although it’s horses for courses – you pay your money and make your choice.

Every model comes with stability control, airbags all over the place and the SE models get the new City Emergency Braking system that, supposedly, applies the brake automatically if it is detects you are about to crash at speeds below 19 mph.

At 20, I guess you’re on your own! Plenty of space for four adults in comfort and five if need be and it has a clever adjustable floor in the boot that allows you to divide the luggage space in two and reduces the load lip.

There is not a lot those dastardly clever designers have not thought of. It also has the maximum 5 Star in the Euro NCAP safety tests, which is great to know if you stuff it, you have an excellent chance of walking away and with kids in the back, this is seriously important stuff.

The new Golf sits alongside the Audi A3 and the BMW 1 Series, which are both seriously good cars so the choice comes down to which one you prefer to drive and to look at as they are pretty much equal in most other respects.

Difficult not to notice that all three cars are German, proving yet again that if you want quality, style and refinement in a mid-size car, German is the only way to go.

They don’t come particularly cheap but this is cancelled out when you take into account running costs and resale values so plumping for a cheaper model will, in the long run, cost you more.

I would go for the 1.6 petrol SE model as that will give you everything you really need and will prove the best model to own when you come to sell it.

I always think that the game of golf is a good walk spoiled. This Golf is a good walk replaced with remarkable engineering and, if you insist, you can get your Golf bats in the boot!

Technical Stuff:

Price: From £16,775 – £22.995
Performance: 0-60mph in 8.6 secs. (2 litre)
Top Speed: 138 mph (2 litre)
Economy: Bluemotion 88.3 mpg
Emissions: 85 – 165 g/km

Having a new car is all well and good at the start but, you will need to know a local alloy wheel repair specialist for the future.