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. 

Top 5 Family hatchbacks

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

    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 offers five engines for the Leon, ranging from a 104bhp 1.2 petrol to a 181bhp 2.0 diesel

    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
    The 308 marks the first time a carry-over name has been applied to an all-new Peugeot

    Peugeot 308

    5

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