Vicky Parrott
13 January 2009

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.

Join the debate


Re: Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI 122 SE

5 years 45 weeks ago

"When viewed from the driver’s seat, the Golf 1.4 TSI is closer to the benchmark Ford Focus than ever."

There's a statement that I'm sure won't please VW, especially as the Focus has been on the market since 2004.

I'm just not convinced by this Mk5.5 version of the Golf, in exactly the same way I wasn't convinced by the last version. Should have stuck to the feeling instead of buying one (Mk5)! I know a lot of people will like this car and it will hold its values well, but I'm sorry to say my money would go else where.



It's all about the twisties........

Re: Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI 122 SE

5 years 45 weeks ago

How different this test is to the last test of the new Golf,

this one seems underwhelmed with VW's new baby.So we have to ask the question,

is the new Golf brilliant or not? I think its a case of one test being of the top model with all the bells and whistles pulling the wool over the testers eyes.This test is of the model most people will probably buy and its not as good.

Also what happened with the refinement? in all the tests I,ve seen its been the one thing everyones going on about.Could it be the top models have extra sound deadening and laminated glass the lower ones dont??

Re: Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI 122 SE

5 years 45 weeks ago

As was much commented on in the press early in its design phase this new Golf has come about sooner rather than later for one reason. cheapness.

It takes considerably less time to build the car and will make VW a whole load more cash on each example sold. So well done VW.

it is relevant only to the likes of the motoring press and bloggers if its as good as the Focus as most people who drive Golfs sleepwalk back to the dealer at exchange time.

For what its worth i think it quite handsome but the whole concept is mind numbingly predictable and i could draw you its replacement right now fairly accurately.

Re: Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI 122 SE

5 years 45 weeks ago

It seems to me that VW have been quite good on parring back the detailed specification as you drop down the range.

This used to be quite common Fords, Renaults, Vauxhalls and many others with anti roll bars, gas dampers, brake diameters and much more all differing significantly from model to model and perhaps this is the real reason VW brought the Mark 6 launch forward? They all look similar from the drivers seat but underneath with the oily bits has there been serious cost cutting?

Contrasts with what has been said about the latest Fiesta, which seems to be well thought of at all levels in the range.

Re: Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI 122 SE

5 years 45 weeks ago

This will still appeal to car buyers who are more focused on looks, refinement and quality.

Ok, these qualities might not set the petrolhead community on fire, but for those who are after a safe, solid, quality item for the family, this Golf is a hard package to beat.

Re: Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI 122 SE

5 years 45 weeks ago

update re: refinement. per sister mag What Car:

"The Golf’s hushed cabin makes it an excellent cruiser, with minimal wind, road or engine noise intruding at speed"

who to believe? or perhaps Autocar test to higher speeds?

Re: Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI 122 SE

5 years 44 weeks ago

The reviews that I'm reading seem to waffle on about the great "touchy feely" interior,how it has very good levels of quietness and refinement.I will add my own adjectives.How SIMILAR it looks to the MKV and how the Golf MKVI reviews seem to paint a picture that it's a BORING car!

Re: Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI 122 SE

5 years 44 weeks ago

"More excitement and refinement for VW's mid-range Golf"

That's the sub heading from the home page. Doesn't really come across in the review, though, does it?

Also what is a lightweight turbocharger? Is that supposed to be a light pressure turbocharger?

Re: Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI 122 SE

5 years 44 weeks ago

What car also say the interior is perfect??

Quote 'Behind the wheel :Absolutely nothing to fault '??????


Re: Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI 122 SE

5 years 7 weeks ago

I get fed up reading posts that the Golf is boring or the same old thing or not up to the benchmark Focus, have any of these folk actually DRIVEN a Focus, I have and a couple of different versions,

1.6TDCI LX - extremely slow, noisy, uncomfortable seats, rattly interior, this particular model tore up it's front tyres in 16000 miles

1.8TDCI Titanium - quite punchy, but still noisy, still had a rattly interior and again ripped its front tyres to shreds inside 15000 miles

2.0 Titanium - got to admit pretty quick, but still had the failings of the diesels, like it was put together unlike the Golf which has the feel of being honed from a solid piece of metal

My own Golf a 1.6FSI automatic, soon to be swapped for a 1.4TSI 122 DSG, now has 46000 miles on the clock, still drives a well as the day I drove it out the dealers, no rattles, knocks or clangs, tyres that lasted 26000 miles is 200% the better car of these so called class leaders, Fords!! still the Dagenham Dustbins they always were!!

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

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