Markedly more refined than the Mk5, but has lost some of its flair

What is it?

This is the sixth generation Volkswagen Golf, the latest interpretation of a model that was launched 34 years ago and has sold 26 million units world wide. It’s also probably the first Golf that does not mark a complete break from it’s predecessor.

Underneath, the Mk6 Golf uses the same platform as the Mk5, with various engineering upgrades including a further increase in stiffness and more advanced ESP system. In the flesh the styling hasn’t been moved on that far either, despite all the external panels (aside from the roof) being new.

The all-important styling was led by VW Group design boss Walter de Silva and VW styling chief Klaus Bischoff. They claiming they were inspired by the Mk1 and Mk4 Golfs. The main external distinction is the ‘tornado line’ ridge which runs down the side elevation. Otherwise de Silva and Bischoff’s machine has a Touareg-alike tail and a nose that, despite the glassy new headlamps, is not so far removed from the Mk5 VW Golf.

The interior is also newly minted (with noticeably better surface quality), but has a dashboard that is very similar to the current Golf, though the door skins are characterfully new. The Mk6 is neat and Golf-tidy but it looks more like a Mk5.5 than a model worthy of new generation billing.

VW’s chief designers also made great play of the attention to detail that had gone into the interior fit and finish and tight fit of the exterior panels. ´Precision’ was the key word at the press conference.

Aside from the handy 120bhp 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine, the MK6 VW Golf introduces other engines including a new 108bhp and 138bhp 2.0TDI common-rail diesels. All diesel engines get a particulate filter as standard and there’s a choice of five or six-speed manuals and six or seven-speed DSGs boxes.

Standard Golf kit includes air conditioning, seven airbags (including a knee bag), ESP and body-coloured trim. Prices will kick off in the UK at around £13,000 for the S trim up to £21,000 for the GT models.

What's it like?

It’s quiet - exceptionally quiet, in fact. VW engineers have been through the old Mk5 Golf design aiming to make a major leap forward in refinement. There’s no doubt that they’ve succeeded. Iceland has some of the noisiest roads in the world (worse even than South Africa and the UK said a VW engineer) but the cabin of our 2.0 TDI DSG model was uncannily unruffled. Even the engine was a distant companion.

VW has thrown the works at it, in its goal to make the VW Golf as refined as a car from the class above. It gets newly design door seals, new engine mounts, quiet tyres, extra sound proofing around the front bulkhead and in the A-pillars and even thicker glass, which has a sound-deadening plastic film sandwiched within it.

Even the individual components that go into the car were optimised though redesigns and the way they are mounted to keep noisy resonance at bay.

Despite the chief chassis engineer telling Autocar the chassis settings had been virtually carried over from the Mk5, this Mk6 lacked any verve. It was certainly smooth, stable and measured in its responses with pleasingly heavy steering, but it was also more baby executive than sparky hatch.

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Should I buy one?

This latest model marks the Phaetonisation of the Golf concept. The Mk6 – in non GTI form at least – becomes the most refined and upmarket feeling car in this sector. There’s a pleasing all-of-a-piece heft about it.

In the late 1990s then boss Ferdinand Piech wanted VW to become a kind of budget Mercedes-Benz (think of the old Golf V5). It’s clear that Piech’s influence (now as the head of the VW supervisory board) can again be felt in the execution of the new Golf.

It looks like being an ideal car to downsize into, and should handle long distance journeys at a stride, but only we get it onto UK roads will we be able to gauge the true extent to which ultra-refinment has robbed the Golf of its zest.

Join the debate

Add a comment…
inthebin 3 December 2008

Re: Volkswagen Golf 2.0 TDI

......more baby executive than sparky hatch.

I dont like the sound of this comment.

Also, this golf looks to much like the scirocco.

sierra 16 September 2008

Re: Volkswagen Golf 2.0 TDI

"if it can approach the tank like build"

Given that this early redesign was purely for cost-cutting purposes I think you can anticipate that underneath the revised skin a lot of the solidarity that marked out a Golf has disappeared. Let's hope that this has made the mk.6 easier to build so that there is a chance that fit and finish is back to VW's supposed standards rather than the "fits where it touches" approach of the mk. 5

Cheltenhamshire 14 September 2008

Re: Volkswagen Golf 2.0 TDI

I quite like the look of it and if it can approach the tank like build and marshmallow soft ride qualifty of the mk4 with the decent handling of the mk5 then they are onto a winner. The thing about the Civic (and I have one) is not the visilibilty or lack of wiper but the rock hard ride and shocking build qualtiy. The thing rides like a tank and rattles like an 80's Citroen. Looks great, handles well and has a great engine / gearbox.

This Golf could quite easily tempt me out.