Andrew Frankel
25 October 2012

What is it?

Probably the most broadly capable model within the new seventh-generation Golf - therefore arguably the single most able family hatchback ever to have been launched.

Like all Golfs of the new era, it benefits from an up to 100kg weight loss thanks in part to the generic MQB platform upon which it sits but also savings made from the engine, running gear and electrical systems.

Powered by a heavily reworked version of VW's ubiquitous 2.0-litre diesel, power has risen by a significant 10bhp to 148bhp, although torque remains unchanged at 236bhp. Added to weight reduction, this is enough to allow VW to slice 0.7sec off its 0-62mph claim, which is now reached in a brisk 8.6sec while top speed rises a less significant 4mph to 134mph.

But the biggest change is to fuel consumption. At 55.4mpg, few would have called the old Golf thirsty but, officially at least, the new car returns 68.9mpg, with the same CO2 output of a Vauxhall Agila with an engine half the size.

What is it like?

‘Good’ scarcely does it justice. For nearly 40 years the Golf has been the one size fits all default choice for customers seeking an all season, all reason car but it’s never been better than this.

The engine is a little noisy at start up from cold, but with a few miles under its wheels is detectable only as a gentle, inoffensive ambient sound. The size and shape of its torque curve appears not to have changed but upgraders will notice the extra power and reduced weight almost immediately. It doesn’t feel markedly faster, just effortlessly rapid like no Golf before. Both the manual and DSG transmission are class leading in their operation but still usually best to drop it into fourth and let the engine do the work.

Back to back comparisons may show the handling of the 2.0-litre diesel Golf is degraded somewhat compared to its petrol-powered sister, as the latter has a lighter motor and therefore more even weight distribution. But in isolation the ride/handling balance that’s been achieved by the new diesel Golf is still inspired. Like the Audi A3 using the same engine, it rides like a far larger and more luxurious car than it actually is. Unlike the Audi however, the Golf also has something to offer the enthusiast, thanks to better body control and more neutral handling.

This car’s static qualities have by now been well documented but it is worth repeating that quality, both perceived and real is as good as you’ll find in the class while the interior design, while unmistakably Golf, still seems both fresh and premium.

Should I buy one?

The first question anyone shopping in this market should now ask themselves is not whether they should buy one, but why they should not.

An Astra or Giulietta is more attractive and you quite easily spend more money buying a posher badge, but for all-round ability, the Golf is now untouched in its class.

And were we to bet which one would prove the pick of the crop (at least until GTIs start arriving next year), the 2.0-litre TDI would unquestionably be it.

Volkswagen Golf 2.0 TDI SE 5-door

Price £21,960 0-62mph 8.6sec Top Speed 134mph Economy 68.9mpg CO2 106g/km Kerb weight 1280kg Engine type 1968cc, 4 cyl, turbodiesel Power 148bhp at 3500rpm Torque 236lb ft at 1750rpm Gearbox 6-spd manual

Join the debate


Just a tad sycophantic perhaps?

2 years 4 weeks ago

Difficult to judge a vehicle that one has not driven but it is not hard to get a bit fed up with the rather fawning attitude of motoring journalists to new VW products. There is just a hint that the engine is a bit noisy. This would not be surprising, as VW diesels seem to vary considerably from unit to unit but a hint is all we are given.

As to appearance, onlookers can make a judgement with justification. "An Astra or Guiletta is more attractive". "Too right" as they are supposed to say down under! It is a dreary and unenterprising shape. Hopefully this does not reflect VW's view of their customers which would be arrogant and patronising if so.

Did VW pay for this advert?

2 years 4 weeks ago

This is just PR puff for a very boring car that will be bought by people who think buying a German car makes the neighbours think they're posh.

Sounds all good but ,,

2 years 4 weeks ago

The question is;

Isn't this getting a bit boring and obvious?

Is being "perfect" nessesarily a good thing?

Would you own something that All Mr.& Miss Average owns on this planet??

Whatever you critics think,

2 years 4 weeks ago

Whatever you critics think, decades of strong Golf sales clearly demonstrate that Volkwagen know what their customers want and deliver it.


I'm a disillusioned former Citroëniste.

You Have To Smile ...

2 years 4 weeks ago

"... therefore arguably the single most able family hatchback ever to have been launched." ... Until the inevitable Mk 8 Golf comes along ... And £22K is still a LOT of money for a "people's car" ...

You can't blame VW

2 years 4 weeks ago

You really can't blame VW for their 'safe' styling on the Golf. It sells by the bucket load, you wouldn't believe the ammount of repeat Golf buyers they have that are so happy with the product nothing else is even considered come upgrade time. I think the new platform should be applauded, and the engines as always are good, both petrol and the black stuff.


It's expensive yes, and discounts aren't as big as the focus/astra/megane etc, but I think they have successfully raised it up into the premium hatch category almost. The interior is easily up there with the A3, 1-Series and A-Class.


2 years 4 weeks ago


It's expensive yes, and discounts aren't as big as the focus/astra/megane etc, but I think they have successfully raised it up into the premium hatch category almost. The interior is easily up there with the A3, 1-Series and A-Class.

It's grotesquely overpriced and the interior is just as nasty as the three other really nasty interiors in the grotesquely overpriced hatchbacks for Hyacinth Bucket market.


Most Golfs you see seem to be

2 years 4 weeks ago

Most Golfs you see seem to be 1600tdi, how does that one drive? They have also removed some things from the spec, eg parking sensors to make it look like it is the same price.


2 years 4 weeks ago

LOL, what part of the world do you live in?  Since when was a Golf pretentious envy envoking car?


2 years 4 weeks ago

This is the best of the best!!!!

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Our Verdict

Just how good is the mighty Volkswagen Golf, Europe's best selling car that's now in its seventh generation?

Driven this week