Seven generations is a lot. The Golf has been around for a long time and with the previous six iterations going down pretty well, there must have been a few nerves, as well as expectations, when Volkswagen started developing the latest model. So has VW built on its previous successes or buckled under the weight of expectation?
At first introduction, unless you really like Golfs, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this is a Mark 6 model. The kindest word for the styling approach is ‘evolutionary’. Clearly VW doesn’t want to put off previous buyers but surely there was more scope to branch out a bit? However, the interior is well judged with a high quality and well laid out dashboard fitting of the Golf’s reputation as one of the most mature small family cars.
We’re glad to report that there has been more progress on the mechanical side. Under the bonnet VW has introduced a 1 litre turbocharged 3 cylinder unit which saves around 15 kg over the equivalent 4 cylinder. Alongside the weight saving, the engine gets a toothed belt which reduces friction by 30% and boasts a 250 bar injection system which uses advanced five hole solenoid injectors, which all contributes to the official fuel economy.
All of this tech provides an impressive 148 lb ft of torque at just 2,000 rpm but there is already 75% of this at 1,500 rpm. Unlike the previous 1.4 turbo, peak power is available further up the range between 5,000 – 5,500 rpm which provides a more balanced delivery.
The Golf remains a middle class icon with increased practicality and efficiency adding weight to the argument that it is Das Auto. However a few of the normal VW niggles remain, the biggest of which is price. The beauty of small capacity turbo engines is that it is a relatively low cost solution but if you compare the price of this model to full hybrids the numbers don’t stack up brilliantly.