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?
This is the 120bhp Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI 122, complete with turbocharger, but lacking the supercharger of the more powerful 158bhp VW Golf 1.4 TSI 160 GT.
Our test car came in mid-range SE spec, which is expected to be the most popular choice, complete with the VW Golf 1.4 TSI 122’s standard six-speed manual gearbox.
What’s it like?
The new VW Golf offers a step forward in quality, and the new 1.4 TSI 122 makes the step forward in technology to match it, for this engine effectively replaces the old 113bhp 1.6. The lightweight turbocharger gives the engine a linear power delivery that makes the VW Golf effortless to drive in any everyday situation.
Okay, so the 9.5sec 0-62mph time is hardly going to satisfy thrill-seekers, but the level of composure will inspire confidence in any driver and, teamed with the engine’s refinement and free-revving nature, it makes the VW Golf 1.4 TSI 122 one of the most engaging cars in its class.
The ride quality has also improved, though imperfections in the road regularly make it as far as the driver’s posterior.
Cabin refinement hasn’t made the leap forward that Volkswagen would have you believe, either. Tyre noise intrudes at higher speeds, as does wind flutter around the wing mirrors and A-pillar; VW’s efforts have resulted in a car that is eerily silent at idle, but there seems to be little gain at higher speeds.
The sixth-generation VW Golf isn’t a radical evolution, but it has certainly moved the game on. When viewed from the driver’s seat, the Golf 1.4 TSI is closer to the benchmark Ford Focus than ever.
Should I buy one?
Absolutely. Don’t overlook it if you do high mileages either. However, the optional seven-speed DSG ’box might make more sense if you’re looking at daily motorway commutes; combined economy goes up from 45.5mpg in the manual to 47.9mpg in the DSG, so it will save your wallet as well as your left foot.
The more powerful 158bhp VW Golf GT TSI is undoubtedly a better driver’s car but if you’re looking further down the range then the search should start here.