• 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

Given 20 miles at the wheel, even the biggest car enthusiast would have to agree that this new Golf is a world-beater.

They’d probably notice the reserved handling – something that has characterised Golfs for decades – and they might even wonder, to begin with, what the car’s outstanding selling point is, because no single shining thing stands out.

Jim Holder

Former editor
Classless, functional, immaculate. No hatchback has a broader appeal

But it isn’t supposed to. This car’s qualities are not so much easy to overlook as intended to be taken for granted.

On material quality, rolling refinement, usability and functional simplicity, the Golf is outstanding.

Outright performance, ride and handling, cabin practicality and fuel efficiency may not be exceptional, but come highly commended. The Golf’s desirability endures too, of course.

Add competitive pricing and low ownership costs and the armour is complete. Find a chink in it if you can; we certainly can’t.

The best hatchback in the world shows no signs of being anything less.

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