The increasing efficiency of small petrol engines and concerns over diesel emissions mean now is the ideal time to try living with the latest 1.0-litre three-cylinder Golf
1 July 2016

It’s a decidedly disconcerting feeling, standing in a packed car park and trying to work out which vehicle is yours.

Thankfully, I’m not suffering the premature onset of Alzheimer’s; the reason for my apparent forgetfulness is that we’ve swapped our previous Mk7 Volkswagen Golf for a brand new one. So I now regularly stand in car parks knowing I’m looking for a Golf but not sure which one is mine.

At a glance, the only difference between the pair is their colour. There’s far more to the change than that, though. Appropriately, post-Dieselgate, the previous 1.6 TDI Bluemotion, run from new by sister publication What Car? for the past three years, has been switched for a 1.0-litre petrol Bluemotion model. The move away from diesel is something other new car buyers may be considering, due to the arrival of low-emissions, small-capacity petrol engines in many model ranges, so it’ll be interesting, and timely, to see how the two compare.

For now, though, I’ll focus on the new Golf. Its 999cc three-cylinder engine is the latest thing in fuel-efficient, low-emissions powerplants, which are increasingly smaller, lighter turbocharged petrol units rather than larger, heavier diesels.

Its credentials are solid; CO2 emissions of 99g/km mean it qualifies for free car tax, and its official combined fuel economy of 65.7mpg, although not class-leading, is still respectable.

So has making the petrol Golf go green dumbed down its appeal? Surprisingly, no. By nature, this Bluemotion model is more of a potterer than a pace-setter, but its 0-62mph time of 9.7sec and 127mph top speed are acceptable and ensure that it won’t feel out of its depth on the motorway.

There isn’t a ton of torque (148lb ft), but what it does have is available from 2000rpm and the turbo steps in swiftly to ensure power delivery is instant when required. Added to that, the raspy note of the three-cylinder engine genuinely raises a smile when it’s revved hard; it doesn’t help fuel economy, but it does make the Bluemotion more fun to drive.

My first taste of the car was a long haul from the New Forest to Kent during Friday rush hour. Choosing the more twisty, hilly A3 over the mundane, roadwork-strewn M3 turned out not to be the poor choice it could have been in a 1.0-litre car. I needed to change gear fairly frequently on the steepest stretches of dual carriageway, but the engine coped admirably with the winding, high-speed road and didn’t once markedly slow down my progress.

Sixth gear on the manual gearbox is a welcome addition; the previous Golf’s five-speed ’box often left the engine feeling strained at motorway speeds.

It was also great to discover that this new eco Golf hasn’t lost the assured, well-sorted handling of its more potent range mates. It may not have the most communicative steering, but the fluidity and grace with which it deals with winding roads speaks volumes about the superb level of engineering and long-term development that’s made the seventh-generation Golf such a confidence-inspiring car to drive.

The three-hour trek gave me a chance to get acquainted with the interior. It was easy to get comfortable, and stay that way, in the highly adjustable seat with standard lumbar adjustment. There were plenty of stations to choose from, and good reception, from the DAB digital radio. It was a nice surprise when the CarNet Guide and Inform system, which is part of the infotainment suite, popped a message onto the 5.8in colour touchscreen offering to locate the nearest petrol station when the fuel gauge needle dipped to the quarter-full mark. That app is part of the optional (£125) Car-Net App Connect package that also enabled me to connect my phone to the infotainment system.

The eco features aren’t overtly pushy, either. The suggested gearchange indicator is small enough to ignore if I choose to and the eco driving tips that occasionally appear on the screen between the speedo and rev counter aren’t overly bossy or nagging.

The only big dent immediately evident in this Golf’s armoury is the fairly crashy ride afforded by its 16in wheels and 205/55 tyres. Smaller imperfections aren’t sent too harshly into the cabin, but larger potholes and the rutted concrete sections of some motorways create excessive noise and vibration; the tyres also have more of a tendency to follow ruts than those of the diesel Bluemotion.

Fuel economy could prove to be another shortcoming. So far, over the first 1600 miles, which were a mix of motorway and urban driving, it’s not quite achieved 50mpg overall. That’s around 15mpg short of both its official combined figure and the economy I’d been achieving from the 1.6 diesel.

Over the next nine months, the Golf will be put through its paces on my gruelling 45-mile daily commute. In addition, it will regularly act as weekend family transport. If it can do this without drinking significantly more fuel than its predecessor, it will serve its purpose well.

Aside from that, all I need to do is remember which car is mine. Note to self: mine is the Golf with the Pure White non-metallic paint (it’s the car’s second and only additional piece of kit). Do not try to get into any red ones.

Claire Evans

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Comments
18

1 July 2016
The crashy ride is far more to do with the solid rear axle. The Golf on independent rear suspension is much more settled over big bumps and pot holes. Hardly any difference on regular roads though.

1 July 2016
They could have a part to play in this. Autocar have previously criticised other car makes using eco tyres when a standard model without them is better on the ride front. Perhaps it is the stiffer sidewall? That would spoil ride and lead to more road noise.

1 July 2016
winniethewoo wrote:

The crashy ride is far more to do with the solid rear axle. The Golf on independent rear suspension is much more settled over big bumps and pot holes. Hardly any difference on regular roads though.

But how often do you find regular roads in 016 UK? The smaller engined MK 6 were superior to the MK 7, also the auto braking and active cruise are deleted from the 1.0.

2 July 2016
The Bluemotion has lowered suspension which doesn't help. I tried an early 1.2Tsi Mk7 with solid rear axle. It was totally fine 90% of the time. It only became a bit thumpy / flummoxed if you went over really broken surfaces, or went over a speed bump at speed.

1 July 2016
It's got independent rear suspension and a DSG gearbox that isn't compromised by having an eco brief like the Golf, which upchanges really fast and starts off in second gear. I'm waiting for Honda's new Civic though with 1.0 triple though. Perfect engines for driving in town. I think my average speed in London is something pathetic like 11mph. I don't want the bother of having a DPF to clear out. Electric doesn't have enough range for sensible money / size.

1 July 2016
with all comments posted the 1.6 diesel gets about 42 to 45mpg if you check it correctly aND DO NOT RELY ON THE COMPUTER ,THAT CHEATS AS WELL.pROBABLY THE PETROL 1.0 PETROL WILL BE THE SAME

1 July 2016
Ski Kid wrote:

with all comments posted the 1.6 diesel gets about 42 to 45mpg if you check it correctly

I've got a Passat with the 1.6 diesel, and tracking it on Fuelly it's actually doing 54mpg. I'm not convinced that the Golf with the same engine is 10mpg worse!

1 July 2016
Those with long memories may recall that Rob Keenan of Whatcar struggled to better 50mpg (per Whatcar July 2014, 49.1mpg) with the very same red Golf diesel that Claire Evans says she has been getting 65mpg. So it suggests to me that usage and driver behaviour have a part to play. As for computer accuracy, @Ski Kid, my own Mk7 Golf computer is very accurate, as compared with data I collect from fuel used. Others may not be so lucky, of course.

1 July 2016
tHIS IS A 1.6 DIESEL 110BHP CONVERTIBLE SAME ENGINE A HATCHBACK SUPPOSED TO GET 65MPG BEST WE GET IS 45IN THE SUMMER AND DOWN TO 42 IN WINTER AND THAT IS BEING LIGHT FOOTED AND THE TRIP COMPUTER SHOWS A BIT MORE BUT DO A CUMULATIVE REAL WORLD CHECK THE ENGINE IS CRAP COMPARED TO 1.6 DIESEL IN FORD c MAX FROM 2007 THAT USED TO AVERAGE OVER 50 MPG IT IS ALSO DOCUMENTED BY OTHER TESTERS OF POOR ECONOMY ON THE 1.6 VW DIESEL.MY SON HAS THE NEW TSI ENGINE IN AN IBIZA SHOULD GET 60MPG ACHIEVES 38MPG THINK AUDI /VW ARE CHEATING BIG STYLE WITH THEIR MPG FIGURES

1 July 2016
How many miles is the typical journey length for your Golf, @Ski Kid, and what is the annual mileage? Are these the same operating conditions as applied to the C-Max? As an example, with my own 2.0L car, my typical current and most frequent journey length is 10 miles or less and for this I get around 47/48mpg, and for half of that miles, the engine is still getting to full operating temperature. But the moment I do a longer journey in one trip, I can expect 58/60 with little difficulty. I do 10,000 miles a year, which includes longer trips. Over 2 years of use, overall is 51. That this is way off the official figures does not bother me too much as I have always taken those with a big pinch of salt, since my driving in no way replicates the test laboratory conditions. For a start, I use more than gnats-piss acceleration, and air temperature is some way below what they test in. By the way, electric could suit my current car use quite well, but I cannot afford to change just yet, nor is there enough choice yet.

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