• More than 29 million Golfs have been sold since 1974
  • SE cars get 16-inch alloys. Entry level models get 15-inch steel wheels
  • Bonnet flanks are now lower than the mid-section rather than above - a sign of gentle design evolution
  • Gently curved C-pillar is a trademark Golf feature
  • Tail light cluster design subtly linked to the feature lines that run the length of the car
  • Cabin exudes the usual Golf strengths of solidity and ergonomic excellence
  • Sat nav is standard only on GT trim cars
  • Eco function gives useful tips to encourage green driving
  • Boot size is up slightly on the old model, now 1270 litres with the rear seats folded down
  • Cabin is dark but roomy
  • Stretched wheelbase means the rear cabin is more accomodating than ever, though is short of legroom compared to some rivals
  • In 2.0 TDI spec the Golf is not especially fast
  • Progress is smooth and undramatic
  • 2.0-litre diesel engine is unspectacular but thoroughly competent
  • Golf is incredibly easy to drive with approachable dynamic limits
  • Diff-lock imitating XDS system is standard across the range
  • The new Golf delivers unspectacular excellence across the board. The old boss is back

Now, as ever, evolution is key to the Golf’s design. Volkswagen Group design boss Walter de Silva has suggested that much of the Golf’s success “lies in its continuity”. People liked what they saw in the past, and they like this Golf now, too.

Had you never seen this generation Golf before, yet removed all its badges, we’re certain you could tell this was still a Golf.

Nic Cackett

Road tester
Be careful with the wheel choice on entry level models, as they come with 15-inch steel items as standard

But there are, however, some subtle variations from the usual theme: stronger horizontal lines along and across the body reinforce an impression of solidity, while there is a small front overhang and give a sense that there’s a long bonnet and a cabin set far backwards. That, according to VW, is a design trademark of a more upmarket car.

What lies beneath, however, is more important than surface fripperies. You’ll probably already know that Volkswagen’s flexible MQB architecture features here.

It’s a steel monocoque construction whose body-in-white is said by VW to weigh 23kg less than its predecessor’s, thus contributing to the claimed 100kg weight reduction over Mk6 Golf variants. That’s despite it being longer and wider at a still-compact 4255 and 1799mm respectively.

Volkswagen says a base 2.0 TDI like we put through Autocar's full road test could weigh as little as 1354kg. But there’s no disgrace that, well equipped and full of fuel, it came up 10kg short of 1400kg on our scales, especially given that the Volvo V40 D3 we tested tipped the scales at 1545kg.

All Golfs, as you would expect, have MacPherson struts at the front. At the rear, versions with less than 148bhp come with a torsion beam set-up, while those with more than 148bhp get a multi-link suspension system. The range comprises a 1.2 TSI turbo petrol engine with an output of 84bhp, 121bhp and 138bhp versions of a 1.4 TSI, a 1.6 TDI with 103bhp, and a 2.0 TDI with 148bhp (thus pushing it into multi-link rear suspension territory).

The range is topped by on the petrol side by the 2.0-litre GTI with 217bhp or 227bhp (reviewed separately here), and on the diesel front by the 181bhp 2.0 GTD. An even faster Golf R is to follow in 2014. 

There's also a four-wheel drive Golf, the Golf 4Motion, with an electronic Haldex 4x4 system and front and rear diff locks.

Unfortunately this car won't be coming to the UK. A pity; we tried it and liked it.

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