First DriveNew GTE offers the best blend of economy and performance in the Golf range, but could do with more boot space and a lower price
First DriveThe Golf gains more anonymity in estate form, but remains practical and appealing to economy-conscious buyers
What is it?
The Volkswagen Group is at the forefront of the downsizing trend with its small-capacity turbocharged petrol engines. The larger 1.4 TSI has won numerous awards for its impressive mix of power and economy, but VW hasn’t stopped there; it’s now launching its new 1.2 TSI engine in the Golf and Polo models, and it’s tested here in a five-door Golf.
What's it like?
We’re already familiar with the Golf’s capabilities; the competent dynamics and impressive interior quality are particular highlights. But the real story here is the engine
The 1.2 TSI unit is smooth, quiet and refined. Off the line it can feel underpowered, as it does near the top of the rev range, but progress is swift when peak torque kicks in between 1550rpm and 4100rpm. But this sprightly performance comes with a question mark over economy.
In its week with us, the Golf covered several hundred miles of motorway runs and city commutes, but not once did it get near VW’s claimed combined figure of 49.6mpg; mid-30s was nearer the mark.
Should I buy one?
This is a Golf with an element of compromise. It’s a fine car with an engine that delivers impressive refinement and performance.
However, the real-world economy means it’s not for those in pursuit of as few fuel stops as possible on long-distance runs; they should try the 1.6 TDI. Instead, it’s more suited to daily driving around town.
But the tech is getting there; a bit of work improving economy and emissions without sacrificing the mid-range urgency would make it hard to fault.