What is it?
The cheapest two-pedal version of the current Volkswagen Golf, fresh on UK shores – and as such, a potentially popular car for private buyers.
The 1.2-litre TSI DSG develops 104bhp and 129lb ft of torque, qualifies for a £30 tax disc, for very reasonable group 11 insurance, and is claimed to return better than 50mpg.
Combine all that with the usual Golf ownership experience (high-rated service, excellent residuals) and the car would seem to offer plenty in principal.
What's it like?
Very good indeed. All of the Mk7 Volkswagen Golf’s chief qualities – comfort, refinement, integrity and usability – are present in this, the bottom-but-one petrol model.
It’s so often the measure of a great car that you don’t need to spend all the money on the most expensive versions to appreciate what makes it great. Because, while it isn’t either an out-and-out performance or economy champion and it doesn’t handle like a GTI, this car is so supremely easy to use that it would fit into your life like a hand in a tailored velvet glove.
Cultured manners are what really distinguishes it. The eight-valve 1.2-litre turbocharged engine instantly descends to a hushed idle. The 104bhp figure probably sounds like less than you might wish for in your family five-door, and there will be times when you’d welcome a few extra horses: when overtaking on the motorway, particularly.
But, on the flip side, so well-matched is that engine to VW’s seven-speed twin clutch gearbox, and so relaxing is this car to drive at everyday speeds, that you’ll seldom find yourself in a hurry.
An inch-and-a-half of accelerator travel is enough to set the car in motion – smoothly, quietly, with the traffic, and with the minimum of fuss. The car has seamless, assured urban speed courtesy of peak torque from 1550rpm. Under most circumstances, you don’t even feel the gearchanges.
Rolling refinement is first rate too, with lots of quiet compliance from the chassis, overlaid by precise, predictable, obliging handling. You’ll get better day-to-day economy from a diesel, especially if you do lots of motorway miles – but not by a great deal. Around 45mpg is realistic on a mixed commute.