High expectations here, and easily met. A sizeable constituent within Volkswagen’s customer base buy its cars (and the Golf specifically) because the interior quality and corresponding aesthetic hoist the cabin ambience out of the mainstream.

Remarkably, this is done without fawning too dramatically at the premium brands’ coat tails; instead, the just-so sweetness of the ergonomics and a design blueprint devoid of ostentation are entrusted to convey that all-important waft of understated class. In that respect, the Mk7 is a chip off the block.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
The buttons on the multifunction steering wheel are more suited to Borrowers than overfed road testers

VW insists that every element of this interior was redeveloped or redesigned over its predecessor's, but the innate conservatism of the surroundings means you’d struggle to put your finger on what exactly has changed without immediate reference to the Mk6 .

The centre console has been angled even more aggressively towards the driver, but it is probably the multimedia centre at its heart which is worthy of greater attention.

In a potent sign of the times, the trim levels come with more equipment than before, with the entry-level S comes with a 6.5in touchscreen infotainment system which includes DAB radio, Bluetooth, a SD card reader and an eight speaker audio system. There is also air conditioning, heated wing mirrors and hill start assist. Opt for a Bluemotion version and low rolling resistance tyres and a sports suspension are added to the package.

The mid-range Match Edition cars come with more luxuries such as lumbar support for the front seats, heated front seats, adaptive cruise control, front and rear parking sensors and sat nav, while opting for the GT Edition sees 18in alloys fitted, a panoramic sunroof and sports seats. The R-Line models get a more sporty interior and aggressive exterior, while the range-topping diesel - the GTD gets more sporting attire, bi-xenon headlights, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and start, and 15mm lowered sports suspension.

The Golf GTE gets bespoke editions over the standard car, including a unique bodykit, decals and details, and two charging cables, while the Nav version gets an 8.0in infotainment system completer with a 64GB hard drive, VW's connect services and smartphone integration.

The halo cars within the Volkwagen Golf range get further performance enhancements over the 'warm' GTD, with the GTI getting its own alloys, suspension set-up and bodykit, while the Clubsport Edition 40 gets numerous race-inspired features and an Overboost function which gives the GTI an extra 20bhp for 10 seconds during full throttle.

The range-topping Golf R is a different beast to the rest with its own bodykit, badging and details, a retuned sports suspension set-up and 4Motion four-wheel drive system. The all-electric e-Golf gets some charging equipment and software built in giving updates on the status of the vehicle and its electric charge.

By VW’s own benchmark, some of the old-fashioned switchgear is not quite as satisfying to spin or toggle as it might have been, but these are niggles rather than concerns.

Elsewhere, VW’s determination that the Golf must, once again, be made to swell has at least paid dividends inside. Rear legroom has grown by 15mm, despite the fact that the front seats have been moved 20mm back to help accommodate taller drivers.

The platform’s broader girth means that shoulder and elbowroom have increased by 30mm and 20mm respectively. The 28mm decrease in height has not perceptibly hindered headroom. The Golf is as spacious as a family could reasonably ask, and well in touch with its peers.

The Golf Estate offers the same levels of sensibleness and quality in the front, but with a 605-litre boot out the back. 

Top 5 Family hatchbacks

  • Volkswagen Golf

    Volkswagen Golf

    1
  • The popular Ford Focus in 1.5 TDCi Zetec form
    The standout component of the Ford Focus has always been its handling

    Ford Focus

    2
  • Seat Leon

    Seat Leon

    3
  • Mazda 3
    The SkyActiv platform used in the 3 features more high and ultra-high-strength steel, offering greater strength and less weight

    Mazda 3

    4
  • Peugeot 308

    Peugeot 308

    5

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Ford Focus RS Mountune FPM375
    First Drive
    20 January 2017
    Does an official Mountune upgrade of 25bhp and 30lb ft, improve the already rampant and rather magnificent Ford Focus RS?
  • Audi S5 Sportback
    First Drive
    19 January 2017
    The Audi S5 Sportback is more bruising GT than practical sports car, but it makes sense for those wanting a fast executive saloon in coupé get-up
  • First Drive
    18 January 2017
    Despite receiving a cosmetic and mechanical refresh, Lexus's compact executive saloon still fails to provide much driving involvement
  • 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 5h review
    First Drive
    18 January 2017
    Big-selling plug-in SUV gets a light refresh in the face of new challengers to offer decent economy but only average driving dynamics
  • Mini Countryman Cooper S
    First Drive
    18 January 2017
    All-new bigger Mini continues to make a curious, flawed crossover hatchback, though it’s more compelling to drive than some and more practical than it used to be