This 1.0 TSI 110 engine isn’t quite the entry point of the range – a 1.0 TSI 85 sits below it – but is likely to be the most recommendable place to start. But is 1.0 litre of capacity across three cylinders adequate for hauling around a Golf? Well, with driver and fuel it tips the scales at 1216kg, which isn’t particularly portly by today’s standards, and the 1.0 has just a much torque as the 1.4 TSI 125, albeit in a narrower band between 2000 and 3500rpm.
So, and as with many a three-pot motor, it needs a few revs to get it off the line, but once you’re on your way it pulls merrily in the mid-range. If you need a bit more zip then it’s keen to rev out, singing away as it does so with that typically cheeky three-cylinder timbre. Okay, it’s not fast, but it's perfectly fine for anyone who spends large chunks of their time in the city, and should they venture farther afield, it’ll get to 70mph without fuss.
If you always find yourself in the outside lane of the motorway trying to get somewhere fast, your foot will be hard down for more time than is conducive for decent economy - and if that's the case we'd recommend waiting for the all-new 1.5 TSI Evo that arrives later in the year. Driven more sedately, though, this 1.0 will average mid-40s with relative ease.
The rest of the package feels as well honed as ever: there’s plenty of space in the front and rear seats, the boot will take the family shop and even at motorway speeds it’s very good at isolating you from the outside world.
It's comfortable, too. Yes, this engine gets a rudimentary twist-beam rear axle instead of the fancy multi-link arrangement that higher-powered Golf's receive, but it's still among the best-riding cars in the class, and it displays great poise and balance along a challenging back road.
The steering is sweet, too, with progressive gearing and good weighting around the straight-ahead that builds uniformly as you crank on lock. Even though it’s not bristling with sensations through the rim itself, you can stroke the nose into corners confidently and with pinpoint accuracy.
There will still be those who find the interior a little bland, but you can’t fault its fit and finish. And it must be said it's been augmented by that new, swish-looking, glass-fronted 8.0in touchscreen. It’s standard even on the basic S trim, while our SE Navigation test car, as the name suggests, had sat-nav too. But not gesture control; that comes on the optional Discover Navigation Pro system, which gets an even bigger 9.2in screen.
The crystal-clear display is a definite step-up from the Golf’s previous infotainment systems, and although the menus are familiar, better processing power makes them more reactive to inputs.
Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink are standard from SE onwards so you can hook-up your smartphone, and from SE Navigation up you can access various online services. For the first time on a Golf you can also replace the regular instrument binnacle with a 12.3in digital screen, which puts loads of information, such as navigation maps, conveniently below the driver’s eye line.