From £15,827
Lower-powered 2.0 TDI is still smooth and eager

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?

21 April 2009

What is it?

A 2.0 TDI Golf, that’s what. This one, though, differs from the previously tested 2.0 TDI by sporting the 108bhp, not 138bhp, variant of Volkswagen’s latest 2.0-litre common-rail diesel engine. In every other respect the car, in SE trim and with a five-speed manual ’box, is the same as we’ve already seen.

What’s it like?

No surprises inside or out. We’re now quite used to the Mk6 Golf’s refined looks, subtly improved quality interior and generous standard kit, which all conspire to instil a feeling of unruffled, upmarket tranquillity almost above the Golf’s station.

In 108bhp form the VW Golf doesn’t feel to be wanting at any time. Power delivery is smooth and eager, although it obviously lacks a little urge for overtaking when compared to its bigger-chested 138bhp sibling. And despite needing a few more revs to make brisk getaways from the lights, its an impressively serene experience from the remarkably well-insulated cabin. The Golf rides noticeably well, too, and the chassis is adept, albeit lacking a Focus’s dynamic sparkle when pressed on.

Should I buy one?

Quite possibly. If 'VW Golf' is already at the top of your shopping list, then this version would be well worth considering. It’s a stylish, solidly built five-door hatch, as we’d expect, but exceptionally frugal, too. VW claims an impressive 57.6mpg combined, and we saw figures hitting the mid-60s on a motorway run. Numbers like that make us wonder quite what the Bluemotion version will achieve when it appears, or even if it’s worth waiting for at all.

Join the debate

Comments
28

21 April 2009

Sounds like this will be the biggest seller in the VW Golf range, making it one of the biggest selling cars in Europe by default. As expected it's a "does as it says on the tin" review - incredibly competent without ever being exciting, and that is enough for most people.

21 April 2009

At last a review of a Golf that will actually be relevent to quite a few people. This is the sort of Golf that people actually buy with their own money rather than that GTD nonsense.

21 April 2009

Oh here we go again with an Autocar test: ".....The Golf rides noticeably well, too, and the chassis is adept, albeit lacking a Focus’s dynamic sparkle when pressed on.....".

First, it's debatable that if Golf lags very much behind the Focus in dynamic terms at all (in my experience as a Focus driver there is hardly anything in it), but more to the point, in just about every other respect (bar value perhaps), e.g. quality of build, materials, interior design, engines, ride comfort, refinement and NVH the Golf is the superior car. But as usual the only reference to the Focus we get in an Autocar article about a Golf is on the one single area the Focus "might" be a bit better.

I'm sure this is not intentional, but you do wonder.

21 April 2009

[quote Overdrive]

First, it's debatable that if Golf lags very much behind the Focus in dynamic terms at all (in my experience as a Focus driver there is hardly anything in it), but more to the point, in just about every other respect (bar value perhaps), e.g. quality of build, materials, interior design, engines, ride comfort, refinement and NVH the Golf is the superior car. But as usual the only reference to the Focus we get in an Autocar article about a Golf is on the one single area the Focus "might" be a bit better.

I'm sure this is not intentional, but you do wonder.

[/quote]

Despite being a Focus driver too, I would tend to agree that the difference in driving is probably slim. The Focus remains superb to drive, so if the Golf is only just behind it will still be very good. However whilst the interior materials are clearly better in the Golf, as is perceived quality, having sat in the new Golf I didn't find the actually build quality much better than my Focus. We will see if that opinion remains as the mileage on my Focus rakes up but so far it's standing up well.

Refinement would be the big area where the Golf trumps the Focus, road noise in the Focus is poor. Then again the CO2 emissions of the Golf are disappointing. I would expect it to nudge under 120 g/km to qualify for 13% company car tax and £35 road tax given that the equivalent 1.6 TDCi Focus does and matches the Golf's performance. I believe a 1.6 TDI Golf is due which may plug this gap, I just hope the power is on par with the engine on test here.

As much as I like my Focus, the Golf is the more complete car, but once discounts are taken in account, is it worth the extra? I can't decide to be honest.

21 April 2009

[quote Overdrive]

First, it's debatable that if Golf lags very much behind the Focus in dynamic terms at all (in my experience as a Focus driver there is hardly anything in it), but more to the point, in just about every other respect (bar value perhaps), e.g. quality of build, materials, interior design, engines, ride comfort, refinement and NVH the Golf is the superior car. But as usual the only reference to the Focus we get in an Autocar article about a Golf is on the one single area the Focus "might" be a bit better.

I'm sure this is not intentional, but you do wonder.

[/quote]

It IS intentional, its always been the same. There is a complete bias towards all Ford cars by British magazines and journalists and to be honest I don't really see why. Its obvious to anyone that the new Golf is completely superior to the Focus, if you're in any doubt, see which car will be the biggest selling across Europe, yet here Autocar have to mention that the Focus is better dynamically(very debatable) but conveniently forget to tell us that the Golf is better in probably every other aspect, and will also make a better purchase financially.

In Ireland the same bias does not hold through with Ford products. For example Car Buyers Guide recently tested the new Insignia against the Mondeo and Avensis diesels and declared the Insignia to be a clear winner. Now I'm not saying there is anything wrong with Ford cars, I know they are all generally very good,but can we please have a more open-minded opinion on them and realise that there are actually better cars than them- including the fantastic Vauxhall Insignia, (and Golf)!

jer

22 April 2009

108 bhp and never feels wanting, you sure chaps? That must be nearly 70 bhp per tonne.

I always feel VW tease with these models same engine, different map as more powerful options but the low engine power makes you succomb and shell out more than you would ever expect the model with a different engine map.

22 April 2009

[quote Archie99]It IS intentional, its always been the same. There is a complete bias towards all Ford cars by British magazines and journalists and to be honest I don't really see why. Its obvious to anyone that the new Golf is completely superior to the Focus[/quote]

VW's jump to the new independent rear suspension on the mark 5 helped even things out a bit, before that the VW Golf Mk4 was blown away by the Mk1 Focus - I had both and the Focus was the much sharper car, although you did sit a little too high. VW Acknowledged this by copying the focus rear suspension for the Mk5. Perhaps the reputation comes from that initial imbalance.

I've tried both new cars, and the Focus still has it in terms of overall handling ability, but it's a lot closer. The VW wins out with percieved better reliability (although from friends experiences its the Ford that's more reliable) and higher quality materials, and therefore has a slightly more desirable image. As for "completely superior" - no.

22 April 2009

[quote Archie99]the new Golf is completely superior to the Focus[/quote]

I completely agree, just compare the 2 specs for a start

1.8D Titanium Focus (closest in spec) plus cruise control at £200 List price £19,750

Golf is £2000 cheaper, with better fuel economy, lower CO2, very similar performance figures. It is so obvious which one is the better option for company car drivers.

22 April 2009

Two points:

1. The Ford price list is fiction. Those Golf v Focus price list comparisons are pointless. No-one is paying more for a Focus than a Golf. Model for model, they are probably paying as much as £2K less.

2. Autocar mentions the Focus in its review because, in the UK at least, it is the class benchmark. You review an MP3 player and you compare it to an iPod. You review an analgue synth and you have to mention Moog. No mystery.

22 April 2009

[quote RobotBoogie]

2. Autocar mentions the Focus in its review because, in the UK at least, it is the class benchmark. You review an MP3 player and you compare it to an iPod. You review an analgue synth and you have to mention Moog. No mystery.

[/quote]

I understand that, but my point wasn't about the acutal mentioning of the Focus - no issues with that - but the usual way in which Focus is mentioned by Autocar, i.e. only in areas that favourable to it.

Furthermore, by any objective standard (well, objective as I understand it), the Focus should no longer be the class benchmark. The latest Golf has overtaken the Focus in most respects; at least until the new Focus arrives anyway. And many other "UK" motoring sources that I've read rate the new Golf higher than the Focus, (e.g. Car magazine, Whatcar, Evo etc).

The Focus is a very good car; as I said I'm a Focus driver and like my car and its build quality is far better than the old one, but for the life of my I can't understand those who have commented that it is as well built as the latest Golf. Having sampled the Golf Mk6, not only is it quieter, better riding and more refined than anything else in its class, while still being a good drive, but the quality of its build and materials is simply in a different league to its direct rivals; I would say even better than premium makes like the BMW 1-series and at least as good the as A3, never mind the Focus.

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