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This 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?

Our Verdict

Volkswagen Golf

New 1.5-litre petrol engine promises to help keep the refreshed Volkswagen Golf ahead of rivals

29 March 2017

What is it?

Big brands. If it’s a smartphone, it’s Apple; if it’s a burger, it’s McDonalds; and if it’s a car for the people, then it’s the people’s car: the Volkswagen Golf. And while VW’s been in a process of damage limitation ever since it meddled with its own exhaust fumes, the Golf remains an iconic and hugely important car – a point proved by one finding a home every 40 seconds since 1974, equating to 33 million sold around the world. 

When you have an icon on your hands, you don’t do radical things with it; hence why a Big Mac still looks and tastes like it did in 1967, and your iPhone 7 would feel familiar to anyone with a 2007 original. So the evolution of the Golf has been intentionally glacial, and you have to look very hard to spot the changes on this new Mk7.5. In fact, the MQB platform underpinning it hasn’t been touched at all, but on the outside there are slightly different bumpers, new front wings, new LED tail-lights and new halogen headlights, with LED units now available, too. 

Two things have changed noticeably, though: the extensively upgraded infotainment systems, which include the option of gesture control for the first time in this class, and the price, which has gone down. Now there’s a rare and very welcome treat.

What's it like?

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.

Should I buy one?

There was little wrong with the way the previous Golf went about its business, apart from perhaps that it cost too much. Instead of choosing between a Golf or a Ford Focus, you found yourself weighing one up against a BMW 1 Series or Audi A3, but as powerful as the VW brand is, it would invariably lose out to those two on badge appeal. 

But now that it’s cheaper, by an average of £650 across the range, the Golf is right back in the mix. The infotainment improvements keep it feeling fresh and modern, and if you are looking for a sensible alternative to diesel, this peppy 1.0 TSI 110 petrol’s economy and emissions may well fit the bill. More than ever, then, you’d be mad not to have the Golf right at the top of your family car shopping list

Volkswagen Golf 1.0 TSI 110 SE Navigation 5dr manual

Location Bedfordshire; On sale now; Price £20,120; Engine 3 cyls, 999cc, turbo, petrol; Power 109bhp at 5000-5500rpm; Torque 148Ib ft at 2000-3500rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 1216kg; 0-62mph 9.9sec; Top speed 122mph; Economy 58.9mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 109g/km, 20%; Rivals Ford Focus 1.0T Ecoboost 125, Skoda Octavia 1.0 TSI 115

Join the debate

Comments
11

29 March 2017
At £23,200 the 1.0 EX Civic is over £3,000 more than the VW. Want another example of how cheap this is the slower Focus 1.0 EcoBoost 125 Titanium Navigation is £22,415 a WHOOPING £2,300 MORE THAN THE GOLF.
Best of all the saving's and advantages over the diesel version will put another nail in the DIEsel coffin!

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

29 March 2017
xxxx wrote:

At £23,200 the 1.0 EX Civic is over £3,000 more than the VW. Want another example of how cheap this is the slower Focus 1.0 EcoBoost 125 Titanium Navigation is £22,415 a WHOOPING £2,300 MORE THAN THE GOLF.
Best of all the saving's and advantages over the diesel version will put another nail in the DIEsel coffin!

Agree this is cheap, but there are cheaper specs on the civic as well so like for like they may be closer and unlike the focus and civic this gets the torsion beam rear suspension that autocar lamented so much on the previous civic and astras. Is this the top spec 1.0 golf or is there a more expensive version? Also I am still unconvinced with the 1.0 turbos, as I am convinced you will always be on boost and getting poor economy, surely the old 1.2 turbo would be a better compromise if brought up to date.

29 March 2017
Are the blue dials back too? Loved them in my mk4.

29 March 2017
Seeing as you've not included it in the rivals - I'd rather a 308 GTLine with the 130hp 3cyl Puretech. £22K-ish, faster, and more frugal.

29 March 2017
A Golf with the same spec as the Ford and Civic is £27320. The closest Civic is the SR spec and it has loads more kit for a similar price £20180. The closest focus is the Zetec and it starts at £19495, as si73 stated both cars give you the top chassis as standard not an expensive option.

29 March 2017
equaliser wrote:

A Golf with the same spec as the Ford and Civic is £27320. The closest Civic is the SR spec and it has loads more kit for a similar price £20180. The closest focus is the Zetec and it starts at £19495, as si73 stated both cars give you the top chassis as standard not an expensive option.

I’m no VW fanboy, like others I see it like it is. Your VW price, £27,320, is only £1,200 short of a 5 door GTI! You've blinded by rage obviously!
The Civic EX 1.0 Autocar tested last week has nothing of any use over the Golf SE NAV but is a whooping £3,000 more (that’s a lot of bling if you like that sort of thing) and is still slower.
Oh Focus Zetec, does that come with SatNav?

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

29 March 2017
xxxx wrote:
equaliser wrote:

A Golf with the same spec as the Ford and Civic is £27320. The closest Civic is the SR spec and it has loads more kit for a similar price £20180. The closest focus is the Zetec and it starts at £19495, as si73 stated both cars give you the top chassis as standard not an expensive option.

I’m no VW fanboy, like others I see it like it is. Your VW price, £27,320, is only £1,200 short of a 5 door GTI! You've blinded by rage obviously!
The Civic EX 1.0 Autocar tested last week has nothing of any use over the Golf SE NAV but is a whooping £3,000 more (that’s a lot of bling if you like that sort of thing) and is still slower.
Oh Focus Zetec, does that come with SatNav?

I guess nothing of any use over the se nav is up to individuals to decide but as said the civic Sr is a close price and spec match to this se nav, and there are several specs above above ex spec as well so like for like they are reasonably competitive. Interesting to read that in the golf the torsion beam suspension is fine but on others including the Octavia it is seen as a negative.

30 March 2017
Autocar forgot to write. Clever sales pitch though. Compare with highly equipped rivals who also have proper chasis setup instead of the near archaic torsion beam rear axle to make the Golf appear good value. Thanks Howell for the impartial advice. Every buyer should mention his name at the dealers so that he gets his percentage. Lol

30 March 2017
I reckon the 1.4 tsi (7 year old engine) is still pick of the range. Independent rear suspension. I bet the fuel economy in the real world will be nigh on the same as this 1.0 tsi. Would be interesting to see 1.5 tsi cylinder of demand pricing, but I bet they will bundle that up with the more expensive GT spec.

30 March 2017
winniethewoo wrote:

I reckon the 1.4 tsi (7 year old engine) is still pick of the range. Independent rear suspension. I bet the fuel economy in the real world will be nigh on the same as this 1.0 tsi. Would be interesting to see 1.5 tsi cylinder of demand pricing, but I bet they will bundle that up with the more expensive GT spec.

As a point of reference, we currently have a Ateca with the same engine, it's currently averaging 41 mpg, with only 700 miles on it.

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