Why I'm now on the lookout for a Volkswagen Golf; Bentley's expansion is good news; the Land Rover experience
Steve Cropley Autocar
18 February 2015

MONDAY - Probably sounds weird, but this morning I’m seized by a powerful desire to boot myself right up the behind. Why? Because I’ve never taken the trouble to own a Volkswagen Golf and now I regret it. 

I’ve been driving a Golf 2.0 TDI 150 DSG and am thoroughly sold on it, to the extent that I feel like hiding it from the bloke who arrives tomorrow to take it back.

How can a car this ordinary be so exceptional? After much weekend brain strain, I reckon the secret is in how brilliantly it adapts to every mode of ordinary driving. I’ve always known VW chooses its best people to work on a new Golf but have never before seen the proof so clearly.

It’s the tiny details that make you love it. The relationship between rear-vision mirror and rear screen is the best I’ve encountered in a car. The way the VW roundel protects the rear-facing camera until you need it is genius. The gearshift paddles fit my fingers better than any Bentley’s or Ferrari’s. And there’s stuff like that wherever you look.

One tip, though: make sure you kill the horrible ‘adaptive lane guidance’ before you drive. It gets our wrinkled roads all wrong and makes a great car feel like a Reliant Robin. 

WEDNESDAY - Now we know the Rolls-Royce SUV is coming, talk will surely turn to its name. If the latest BMW-overseen trio is anything to go by, it’ll use something familiar from the past. 

The company is unlikely to ‘do a Bentayga’, especially since it will have seen what even polite Bentley enthusiasts have been saying about that. Looks to me as if the choice is Dawn, Cloud, Spirit, Spur, Shadow, Camargue and Corniche. I’d choose Camargue, the name of a marshy French national park region where the Rhone divides before it hits the Med – just the sort of place a luxurious 4x4 might thrive. No one will care that 40 years ago it was attached to a slow-selling coupé.

THURSDAY - Talking of Bentley, I see they’re holding a ‘jobs fair’ at the Crewe HQ next weekend, aiming to fill 300 new technical positions as part of their £40 million expansion.

Makes the heart swell, doesn’t it? I hate to think what might have happened to Bentley and Rolls had Messrs Piech (Volkswagen Group) and Pischetsrieder (BMW Group) not each set their hearts on buying a prestige British marque in the later 1990s. They competed honourably then, they’re still competing honourably today, and the UK reaps a big share of the benefit. More at bentleycareers.com.

FRIDAY - To Solihull, to investigate what Land Rover calls its Celebration Line, the latest part of a year-long programme to venerate the 67-year-old Defender, which goes out of production this December. We started by walking the modern Defender line and soon arrived at the heritage display, which had a flavour, via huge period pictures and early Land Rover components, of how post-war life must have been in this now hallowed place.

Period Land Rover parts and curios are on show in every space, but the best thing is the atmosphere, which gives you a great feel for the post-war optimism and endeavour that must have run through Solihull, as its 4x4 grew rapidly in export demand and as a farm vehicle that enthusiasts also liked. My guide was former Land Rover engineer and historical expert Roger Crathorne, who had to drag me away.

Best news is that visitors can now do exactly as I did by booking through Land Rover Experience and parting with about £40. They can also drive Heritage Land Rovers on the nearby Jungle Track, for a similar outlay. Great day out.

Our Verdict

Volkswagen Golf

Just how good is the mighty Volkswagen Golf? The seventh generation of Europe's best selling car has been facelifted to keep its nose ahead of its rivals

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Comments
14

18 February 2015
I suspect that even rendered into German this phrase would not be used by anyone on either side of the squabble to describe the means by which the Rolls-Royce name went one way and the factory the other.

18 February 2015
Autocar wrote:

Now we know the Rolls-Royce SUV is coming, talk will surely turn to its name. If the latest BMW-overseen trio is anything to go by, it’ll use something familiar from the past.

How about the Silver lard-Arse.

 

I'm a disillusioned former Citroëniste.

18 February 2015
Having seen two Mansory Phantoms and a couple of Mansory Range Rovers actually wheelspinning in Belgravia recently - and sporting consecutive personalised numberplates - they may as well come clean with their intentions for this ghastly guzzler, and its likely destination.

18 February 2015
the cheapest 2.0TDI 150 DSG is the Match, starting at £24,320, an Audi A3 Sportback 2.0 SE Tecknic TDI S Tronic is £24,380, which is better equipped, a more premium brand and with better residuals, for the sake of £60, who in their right mind would by the Golf?

18 February 2015
Citytiger wrote:

who in their right mind would by the Golf?

Someone, I expect, who has droven it, rather than just playing Top Trumps online...

19 February 2015
Sporky McGuffin wrote:
Citytiger wrote:

who in their right mind would by the Golf?

Someone, I expect, who has droven it, rather than just playing Top Trumps online...

Having owned Golfs and Audis A3, and test driven both current models, the Golf is awful and very overpriced, its the automotive equivalent of white goods, and the Audi feels far better built, have you tried them?

18 February 2015
Steve, it's great to see you highlighting the current success of the UK car manufacturing industry. It doesn't matter who ultimately owns these companies, as long as they are committed to the UK. Under foreign ownership, these companies finally have the financial resources to design cars that are World-class and the British workforce has shown that it has the skills and talent to build them as well as anybody. Anybody still yearning for the 1970's, when the UK (owned) motor industry was destroyed by inept management, a militant workforce and terrible products?

18 February 2015
...How about Silver Goat?

18 February 2015
Of all the names they could have disinterred for their new coupé, I think Wraith is the worst, so I am not optimistic about the 4X4. I would go with Everest or Himalaya.

18 February 2015
I may get shot down for saying it.
But looking at life, I for one would be embarrassed,
Ostentatious and capitalism at its worst!

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