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.
Should I buy one?
Bottom rung ‘S’ trim on the Volkswagen Golf means that you have to pay extra for an alarm, alloy wheels, electric rear windows and parking sensors, but you do get Bluetooth with audio streaming and a DAB radio here, packed into a typically smart, solid and ergonomically excellent cabin.
All of which leaves almost nothing to complain about here, and a great deal to like, for a very reasonable price. The crushingly competent VW Golf marches on.
VW Golf S 1.2 TSI DSG
Price £19,575; 0-62mph 10.2sec; Top speed 119mph; Economy 56.5mpg; CO2 114g/km; Kerbweight 1229kg; Engine type 4 cyls, 1197cc, turbocharged petrol; Power 104bhp at 5000rpm; Torque 129lb ft at 1550-4100rpm; Gearbox 7spd twin clutch