First DriveThis is a first UK drive of the 2017 Volkswagen Golf, which comes with an updated infotainment system and a lower price. What's not to like?
First DriveUK pricing is yet to be announced, but this facelifted Volkswagen Golf retains its trademark refined usability in new 1.5-litre TSI petrol form
What is it?
This is the new VW Golf 1.4 TSI GT. It’s the small capacity, turbocharged petrol version of arguably Europe’s most iconic car, and this is the first chance we’ve had to sample a petrol-powered VW Golf on UK roads.
In the early days after the new VW Golf’s static launch at the Paris motor show, the car received a bit of a panning — as new Golfs often do — for not being different enough.
However, this time the criticism seems justified, for this sixth version really does change very little. This time, for instance, the Golf’s glasshouse is more or less unchanged, and VW has made few claims about new chassis technology or improved cabin space; both are more or less carried over.
What’s different, says VW, is the quality. Just as the rest of the field reaches Golf finish levels, VW has moved the goalposts once again.
The VW Golf 1.4 TSI GT gets the 158bhp version of the 1.4-litre TSI engine. This is a tiny 16-valve petrol turbo unit with continuously variable inlet valve timing. Its headline feature is a crank-driven supercharger, which is on hand to augment the more usual turbocharger when extra torque is needed.
The engine in the VW Golf 1.4 TSI GT drives through a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, but our test car had the optional seven-speed paddle-shift DSG, with full auto facility, that seems to suit it even better.
What’s it like?
From the first mile you drive, it’s apparent that the VW Golf has taken a long step forward in ride refinement. There’s a smoothness in the way the VW Golf deals with suburban bumps that puts it ahead of the Ford Focus, yet it has most of the Ford’s poise and body control even when used hard. The secondary ride is fully comparable with much more expensive cars, and plainly tops everything else at the money.
Even if your neighbours can’t recognise it as the latest VW Golf, you’ll never be confused when you drive it. The sweetness of the steering and controls, the ride sophistication, the noise suppression and the pervading quality of the Golf are all a couple of classes above the rest.
Chuck in the smoothness and sophistication of the seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox and the zing of the 1.4-litre twin-blown engine (easily mistaken for a meaty 2.0 litre except that it can deliver 40mpg in town) and you have just about the finest car in the class.
Should I buy one?
Yes. The new VW Golf 1.4 TSI GT is just about the safest new car you can buy anywhere in this market, from the residual values point of view, and there’s nothing you’ll enjoy driving more in its class.
Try before you buy, however. VW offers lots of engines; maybe you’ll prefer the prodigious low-end torque of its diesels, for instance. But there’s little doubt that the new VW Golf opens up a margin over the rest of its rivals in the areas that most please owners.