• More than 29 million Golfs have been sold since 1974
  • SE cars get 16-inch alloys. Entry level models get 15-inch steel wheels
  • Bonnet flanks are now lower than the mid-section rather than above - a sign of gentle design evolution
  • Gently curved C-pillar is a trademark Golf feature
  • Tail light cluster design subtly linked to the feature lines that run the length of the car
  • Cabin exudes the usual Golf strengths of solidity and ergonomic excellence
  • Sat nav is standard only on GT trim cars
  • Eco function gives useful tips to encourage green driving
  • Boot size is up slightly on the old model, now 1270 litres with the rear seats folded down
  • Cabin is dark but roomy
  • Stretched wheelbase means the rear cabin is more accomodating than ever, though is short of legroom compared to some rivals
  • In 2.0 TDI spec the Golf is not especially fast
  • Progress is smooth and undramatic
  • 2.0-litre diesel engine is unspectacular but thoroughly competent
  • Golf is incredibly easy to drive with approachable dynamic limits
  • Diff-lock imitating XDS system is standard across the range
  • The new Golf delivers unspectacular excellence across the board. The old boss is back

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

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, even the S trim model gets a 5.8-inch display, including iPhone-style swiping and a system that senses your fingers’ proximity and allows it to move seamlessly between a simple on-the-move display to one with more on-screen options than you might conceivably want to select.

Clever stuff, but by replicating Apple’s omnipresent interface you risk being judged by its high standards, and in this respect the navigation is going to feel a little clunky.

Similarly, 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 Goilf 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. 

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