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.

Top 5 Family hatchbacks

  • Seventh generation Volkswagen Golf
    More than 29 million Golfs have been sold since 1974

    Volkswagen Golf

    1
  • The popular Ford Focus in 1.5 TDCi Zetec form
    The standout component of the Ford Focus has always been its handling

    Ford Focus

    2
  • Seat Leon
    Seat offers five engines for the Leon, ranging from a 104bhp 1.2 petrol to a 181bhp 2.0 diesel

    Seat Leon

    3
  • Mazda 3
    The SkyActiv platform used in the 3 features more high and ultra-high-strength steel, offering greater strength and less weight

    Mazda 3

    4
  • Peugeot 308
    The 308 marks the first time a carry-over name has been applied to an all-new Peugeot

    Peugeot 308

    5

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