Directly comparable versions of the Volvo V40, Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Honda Civic and Audi A3 have all undergone our road test treatment, and although wet conditions on our figuring day with the VW didn’t flatter, the Golf was slowest of the lot, taking four tenths of a second longer over a standing quarter mile than the intimately related Audi did.
Longer gearing explains that difference, and emphatically sums up the priorities that the Golf has been configured to serve. In third gear, the Golf goes more than 4mph faster than the Audi for every 1000rpm on the tacho; in top, the difference is 7.4mph per 1000rpm. The VW, then, is a long-legged cruiser of a family hatch devoted to unobtrusive ease of use.
The engine’s 251lb ft is delivered quietly and undramatically. The Golf pulls smoothly from well under 1500rpm and remains restrained and usable beyond 4500rpm. Throttle response is first rate, particularly when Sport mode is selected from the new driver profile menu that gently reprograms the throttle map and steering responses, and the light gearchange is precise and mechanical.