Currently reading: Volkswagen Golf long-term test review: final report
Could the Golf live up to its reputation as the benchmark family hatch with a downsized engine under the bonnet?

Like many rival car makers, Volkswagen has taken the tiny turbocharged petrol engine route to produce a more fuel-efficient, lower-emission alternative to diesel power. The result is the 1.0 TSI unit under the bonnet of my Volkswagen Golf

On paper, the 999cc engine’s 113bhp output looks puny, but its secret weapon is a turbocharger that helps it produce a peak of 148lb ft from just 2000rpm. You do need to be pretty heavy with your right foot and hold onto each gear longer than you might usually do, but it is possible to nip past 60mph in under 10 seconds. 

I was pleasantly surprised at 
the engine’s ability to haul the Volkswagen along fast A-roads and motorways at a decent pace. Equally, revving the little engine hard around town produced an appealing thrummy sound, so I found myself smiling as I punted the Golf around during my daily commute. 

Vw golf

You might expect this sort of driving to take its toll on fuel economy, but the 1.0 TSI rarely dipped below 50mpg with a fairly even mix of gentle motorway cruising and busy town driving. In comparison to my previous 1.6 Bluemotion diesel Golf, that’s only around 2mpg less efficient. 

The only concern I have with the engine is that it managed to drink nearly five litres of oil during my time with it. This seems excessive for any new car and added nearly £50 to the running costs. 

Ride and seat comfort both surpassed my expectations, though. There are few cars I can think of that would leave me feeling sore-eyed but otherwise surprisingly fresh after a one-day round trip between London and Liverpool or Nottingham; I did both of these journeys in the Golf and felt no twinges or aches afterwards.

Vw gollter update bees 546 2


Read our review

Car review

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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The Golf faced some gruelling tasks on local roads, too. It had to ride gently enough over Kent’s pothole-strewn lanes to transport a swarm
 of 40,000 bees (albeit contained in an sealed box, not flying around the VW’s cabin, thankfully) from a tree branch in a busy high street to their new home – a hive in our garden. 

From bees to booze: the Golf
 and I had to make a late-night dash through London to bring my rather queasy daughter home after her first raucous teenage birthday party. The Golf neither antagonised the bees nor jolted my daughter around too much. 

The car scored well for interior space and practicality, too. Every Saturday afternoon I had to transport my daughter to a GCSE tutor 10 miles away through rammed south-east London streets. Rather than head home only to turn around to pick her up again, I waited in the car. 

Golf lt pic 2

The Golf became my makeshift office: I slid the driver’s seat back
far enough to use my laptop and
 I stuffed my pens and notebooks into the many storage cubbies. There was even a small, safe, lidded compartment under the steering wheel where I could put my sewing kit when one Saturday’s task was to stitch name tapes into my daughter’s new items of school uniform. 

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I wasn’t the only person to appreciate the space and storage in the Golf. My parents found the back seats roomy enough when we went on days out, and the boot was even big enough – just – to swallow the mountain of food and massive stack of folding chairs that my mum and dad insisted we needed for a day out at Camber Sands. So is there anything I’d change if 
I were to get another Golf? I’d opt 
for a model with a quick-clearing windscreen. It may seem like a minor gripe, but having to sit on the drive for five minutes with the air-con on full power to demist the windscreen whenever the early morning weather turned frosty did prove frustrating. The heated front seats, which worked far more quickly than the air-con, took the edge off the waiting time. 

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Running the Golf for nine months and 19,000 miles gave me the chance to try out Volkswagen’s dealer servicing. While the car’s initial service wasn’t that cheap
 at £200, I was impressed with the thoroughness of the inspection and the report that I received when the car was returned to me. 

As a busy commuter and parent I don’t have much time for general car maintenance, so I appreciated the note from the dealer telling me how much longer I could expect the Golf’s tyres and brake pads to last before they’d need replacing. When the Golf joined our test fleet last summer, we wanted to find out whether a car with a 1.0-litre engine could cope with the tedious regularity of the daily commute and the unpredictable challenges of family life. Well, provided that car’s engine is equipped with a turbocharger that kicks in swiftly at low revs and supplies some additional oomph, I’d say such a car is up to both tasks. The pleasure of owning the Golf isn’t only derived from its engine, though. There’s also the combination of the hatchback’s practical and roomy interior, its competent and reassuring handling and its forgiving ride that make it such a brilliant all-round package. 

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The Volkswagen made such a good family car that I felt a twinge of regret when handing back the keys – that’s a huge achievement from a car with such a small powerplant. 

LIKE IT: Willing engine - the 1.0 turbo three-pot really is up to the task of punting the Golf around, even fully loaded. Fuel economy - on long motorway runs and around town, the little engine sips hardly any more fuel than a frugal diesel. Rear seat space - no complaints — just compliments — from passengers in the back, even three-up on long jaunts. Storage solutions - the plethora of cabin storage cubbies meant there was a space for everything — even my sewing kit. 

LOATHE IT: Slow-clearing screen - waiting for the air-con to clear the screen is a pain when you’re late for the morning school run. 


Price £20,735 Price as tested £21,120 Economy 50.5mpg Faults None Expenses Oil £46.99, 18,000-mile service £204 


"It's just a brilliant all-rounder” was the enthusiastic verdict of a colleague who borrowed the Volkswagen Golf for a week.

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He added: “I did a bit of motorway driving and thought the engine might not be up to it, but it proved gutsy enough and the gearbox is nice and slick, too. It’s also comfortable enough for commuting through London. The infotainment system is easy to work and I had no problem connecting a phone to it or swapping the audio feed from the radio to streaming via Bluetooth.”

Having clocked up another few thousand miles in the past month, I heartily agree. One evening, my standard 90min commute took twice as long in heavy traffic and, although this particular trip was a painfully slow and frustrating crawl, the Golf was a comfortable place to be.

Aquaplaning on a flooded motorway was another adventure - one that the Golf took more in its stride than I did. I was able to keep the steering wheel straight and coast through the giant pools of flood water without incident, though.

Needless to say, I didn’t stop to take photos on either of these occasions, but I couldn’t resist taking a snap of the Golf in the picturesque Cotswolds village of Tiddlywink en route to Gloucestershire recently. This was another six-hour driving day from my home in Kent and, thanks to the Golf, I wasn’t stiff or achy at the end of it.


Price £20,735 Price as tested £21,120 Economy 52.3mpg Faults None Expenses Oil £46.99, 18,000-mile service £204, tyre repair £20


The first service

Our Volkswagen Golf's schedule is set to ‘long life’ mode, and a warning indicator diligently popped up on the dashboard 300 miles before the first service was due at 18,000 miles.

Then the tyre pressure warning indicator pinged up on the instrument panel a couple of days before the service, followed by the ECU light as I drove to Volkswagen Twickenham, so I mentioned both while dropping the car off.

Vw golf

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Although the service seemed relatively pricey at just over £200 for an oil and filter change, it included an Express Visual Check, which provided me with a written report on how much tread was left on the tyres and how worn the brake pads were. As someone with a busy life, I appreciated having these checks done for me.

My mentions of the warning lights were heeded, too. Although nothing other than a switch reset was needed for the ECU light, the tyre pressure warning was the result of a nail stuck in the rear right tyre. It was removed and the puncture repaired for free. 


Price £20,735 Price as tested £21,120 Economy 50.5mpg Faults None Expenses Oil £46.99, 18,000-mile service £204 

Read our previous reports here:

First report

An effective load lugger?

Practicality test

The school run

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Add a comment…
Spanner 23 September 2017

Where are the VW phobes?

This thread is missing a few comments from the VW = awful brigade. Shame on you, get your act together and write something damning.

No vw thread is complete without it, so let's get a move on eh? It is no fun without these. 

Tornadorot 22 September 2017

having to sit on the drive for five minutes with the air-con on

Sounds like windscreen demisting in the Golf Mk7 hasn't improved since the Golf Mk6 then!

xxxx 22 September 2017

oh 40'ish mpg????

The Autocar tester got 50, real world, over 20,000 miles