From £15,827
Markedly more refined than the Mk5, but has lost some of its flair

Our Verdict

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

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

8 September 2008

What is it?

This is the sixth generation Volkswagen Golf, the latest interpretation of a model that was launched 34 years ago and has sold 26 million units world wide. It’s also probably the first Golf that does not mark a complete break from it’s predecessor.

Underneath, the Mk6 Golf uses the same platform as the Mk5, with various engineering upgrades including a further increase in stiffness and more advanced ESP system. In the flesh the styling hasn’t been moved on that far either, despite all the external panels (aside from the roof) being new.

The all-important styling was led by VW Group design boss Walter de Silva and VW styling chief Klaus Bischoff. They claiming they were inspired by the Mk1 and Mk4 Golfs. The main external distinction is the ‘tornado line’ ridge which runs down the side elevation. Otherwise de Silva and Bischoff’s machine has a Touareg-alike tail and a nose that, despite the glassy new headlamps, is not so far removed from the Mk5 VW Golf.

The interior is also newly minted (with noticeably better surface quality), but has a dashboard that is very similar to the current Golf, though the door skins are characterfully new. The Mk6 is neat and Golf-tidy but it looks more like a Mk5.5 than a model worthy of new generation billing.

VW’s chief designers also made great play of the attention to detail that had gone into the interior fit and finish and tight fit of the exterior panels. ´Precision’ was the key word at the press conference.

Aside from the handy 120bhp 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine, the MK6 VW Golf introduces other engines including a new 108bhp and 138bhp 2.0TDI common-rail diesels. All diesel engines get a particulate filter as standard and there’s a choice of five or six-speed manuals and six or seven-speed DSGs boxes.

Standard Golf kit includes air conditioning, seven airbags (including a knee bag), ESP and body-coloured trim. Prices will kick off in the UK at around £13,000 for the S trim up to £21,000 for the GT models.

What's it like?

It’s quiet - exceptionally quiet, in fact. VW engineers have been through the old Mk5 Golf design aiming to make a major leap forward in refinement. There’s no doubt that they’ve succeeded. Iceland has some of the noisiest roads in the world (worse even than South Africa and the UK said a VW engineer) but the cabin of our 2.0 TDI DSG model was uncannily unruffled. Even the engine was a distant companion.

VW has thrown the works at it, in its goal to make the VW Golf as refined as a car from the class above. It gets newly design door seals, new engine mounts, quiet tyres, extra sound proofing around the front bulkhead and in the A-pillars and even thicker glass, which has a sound-deadening plastic film sandwiched within it.

Even the individual components that go into the car were optimised though redesigns and the way they are mounted to keep noisy resonance at bay.

Despite the chief chassis engineer telling Autocar the chassis settings had been virtually carried over from the Mk5, this Mk6 lacked any verve. It was certainly smooth, stable and measured in its responses with pleasingly heavy steering, but it was also more baby executive than sparky hatch.

Should I buy one?

This latest model marks the Phaetonisation of the Golf concept. The Mk6 – in non GTI form at least – becomes the most refined and upmarket feeling car in this sector. There’s a pleasing all-of-a-piece heft about it.

In the late 1990s then boss Ferdinand Piech wanted VW to become a kind of budget Mercedes-Benz (think of the old Golf V5). It’s clear that Piech’s influence (now as the head of the VW supervisory board) can again be felt in the execution of the new Golf.

It looks like being an ideal car to downsize into, and should handle long distance journeys at a stride, but only we get it onto UK roads will we be able to gauge the true extent to which ultra-refinment has robbed the Golf of its zest.

Join the debate

Comments
12

9 September 2008

"New" Golf? Are you kidding me?

I know you point out the similarities to the previous Golf but please, this article seems to have come straight from VW themselves.

Thanks for mentioning the new rubber seals guys and thicker glass guys I'll sleep better now. Rather have a Civic though.

9 September 2008

I cannot believe how wide cars like this are getting. Another ten years and you'll need Police outriders. We know safety zones don't account for all this extra width, so why do they keep getting so wide and long? Is it for fat Americans i wonder?

GD

9 September 2008

It is good to read that the Mk6 is an advance on the 5, even if the report,as mentioned by another correpondent does seem to have come straight from VW themselves. Go on admit it, the ad dept couldn't have done better. BUT... My question is - are we to be offerred a new Jetta/Vento/Bora with these advances? I need the boot and drop down back seats to get a wheelchair ramp in (5ft long). I really like my current Bora but will, one day, need a replacement. (I would rather not have an Estate).

GB

9 September 2008

The New Golf is really growing on me. I much prefer the styling - whilst it's conservative still, it looks better quality, what with the chrome and sharp surfaces. If the interior is as good quality to the touch as the Mk4 was, Volkswagen will sell tons. Also not forgetting how economical the new model is, and that the Bluemotion's CO2's will be 99 g/km!! I know it's no Civic in terms of the looks and practicality, but the only offputting thing with the Civic is the rear visibility and lack of a wiper (which can be annoying!). Overall, I think VW could have been braver, but then the Golf is an important car for Volkswagen, and I like the return to simplicity.

"The creative adult is the child who survived."

9 September 2008

Surely the Mk4 was a development of the Mk3?

9 September 2008

I reckon you're right on the chassis side, but at least the body was all new (even if it was still an evolution looks-wise). This "mk 6" is so obviously the same car, no matter how many detail changes how can they possibly justify this as "new" iteration? It is just so unadventurous, with an equally boring VW parts bin interior, they must surely be relying on the loyal customers to just upgrade to the new model - but I don't see how this will attract new buyers. VW obviously could not justify the cost to make a completely new car, especially considering the reputed development/build costs of the mk5. But I wish they (and Autocar) would stop trying to pretend that this is such a big step...

10 September 2008

I know VW are planning to bring out a new range of engines early in the life of this car which may be good for economy and emissions but this car seems very conservative.

A car that is more pleasing to sit in or sit on the drive but otherwise offers almost nothing new.

If VW had looked to the low weight of the Mk 1 Golf for inspiration could they not have done much better?

10 September 2008

Everyone forgets the Mk2 Golf. This is it's spiritual successor. Conservative, refined and economical - Golfs are not about flair really. VW aren't messing about and they know the market - this will beat the Astra and the Meganne easily. It should do given the likely cost.

Bring back steel wheels.

12 September 2008

[quote W124]Conservative, refined and economical - Golfs are not about flair really. [/quote]

I agree entirely- I don't perceive Golf's as ever having had 'flair'. This car, at least since Mk2, has always been about solidity, conservatism and upward mobility (how out-of-date that phrase sounds today). Personally, I've completely outgrown the Golf ethos and choose cars with individuality and passion- flair, I suppose.

Thank God they didn't stick that Eos face on the front of it!

14 September 2008

I quite like the look of it and if it can approach the tank like build and marshmallow soft ride qualifty of the mk4 with the decent handling of the mk5 then they are onto a winner. The thing about the Civic (and I have one) is not the visilibilty or lack of wiper but the rock hard ride and shocking build qualtiy. The thing rides like a tank and rattles like an 80's Citroen. Looks great, handles well and has a great engine / gearbox.

This Golf could quite easily tempt me out.

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