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Volkswagen adds CNG/petrol variant to ever broadening Golf line-up in Germany, creating a versatile hatchback offering ultra low running costs

Our Verdict

Volkswagen Golf

Just how good is the mighty Volkswagen Golf? The seventh generation of Europe's best selling car has been facelifted to keep its nose ahead of its rivals

12 March 2014

What is it?

That the latest iteration of the Volkswagen Golf is a very fine car is beyond question. It does everything you would expect of a modern day hatchback and more, offering a broad range of engine options, impressive degree of dynamic polish and excellent refinement characteristics while providing the solidity, finish and general quality usually associated with brands boasting a higher perceived positioning.

However, Volkswagen is clearly not content to rest on the laurels heaped on its perennial best seller. Following on from customary petrol and diesel as well as more recent petrol-electric hybrid and full electric models, there is now a new bivalent compressed natural gas-petrol powered variant of the seventh-generation Golf – the so-called TGI, as unveiled at the recent Geneva motor show.

It's not planned for UK sale anytime soon due to the lack of fuelling infrastructure for compressed natural gas (although VW UK is keen to talk up the possibilities of the fuel). The sister car to the recently unveiled Audi A3 G-Tron and Skoda Octavia G-Tec is aimed at taking advantage of growing sales of compressed natural gas cars in many of Europe’s more lucrative markets, offering prospective buyers running costs that make typical diesel rivals appear almost expensive by direct comparison.

Based on the current price of compressed natural gas in Germany, the new Golf sets you back around £5.00 for every 100 miles travelled based on its official fuel consumption figures. Its ability to run on either compressed natural gas or petrol also provides it with a theoretical range that beats the most economical of existing diesel powered Golf models, the 1.6 TDI Bluemotion.

What's it like?

The Golf TGI is powered by a specially adapted version of Volkswagen’s turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine. Its provides adequate if not exactly inspiring performance, delivering a rather unspectacular 108bhp at 4800rpm and 147lb ft of torque at 1500rpm.

The packaging of the compressed natural gas tank and the various changes made to the Golf’s MQB platform structure to improve rear end crash safety add handsomely to the kerb weight, which is 170kg more than the Golf TSI 1.4 at 1320kg. As a result, straight line acceleration is less than spectacular, with Volkswagen quoting a 0-62mph time of 10.9sec.  

But what the four-cylinder unit lacks in outright punch, it more than makes up for in refinement. It is all but inaudible at the lower end of the range, revs smoothly to the redline and is free of the inherent vibrations of a diesel engine - both in compressed natural gas and petrol modes.

Compressed natural gas is the default mode at start up. When reserves are depleted, the engine automatically switches over to petrol on the run. The change is seamless, the only indication of the fuel source being a lamp within the instrument binnacle, which houses a separate gauge for each.

The engine is mated to either a standard six-speed manual or optional seven speed dual clutch gearbox - the latter offering the choice of two driving modes: sport and standard. A 15kg compressed natural gas tank fills the space usually dedicated to the spare wheel and part of the boot, while a 50 litre petrol tank is retained from more conventional Golf models, giving the Golf TGI a boot that is 89 litres smaller than that of regular petrol and diesel powered models at 291 litres.

Should I buy one?

The showstopper is that its not available in the UK. But nevertheless, while encouragingly cheap to run, the Golf TGI lacks the sparkle of some siblings. It will capture sales among buyers who make running costs at top priority.

Keener drivers are advised to opt for the 138bhp turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol powered Golf 1.4 TSI ACT, which delivers significantly stronger performance without too much of a burden in overall economy. 

Volkswagen Golf TGI Bluemotion

Price n/a; 0-62mph 10.9sec; Top speed 121mph; Economy CNG 3.4kg/100km, petrol 55.4mpg; CO2 CNG 92g/km, 119g/km; Kerb weight 1320kg; Engine 4-cyls, 1395cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power 108bhp at 4800rpm; Torque 147lb ft at 1500rpm; Gearbox 7-spd dual clutch

Join the debate

Comments
8

12 March 2014
The extra 170kg must be mostly over the rear axle and I presume with this model having less than 150bhp it has a torsion beam rear setup, so how is the ride and handling affected by the extra weight? They must have stiffened the rear suspension because 170kg is like carrying around two large adults in the back all the time, so what if you put two large adults in the back of this TGI model?

12 March 2014
Thats too much of a weight penalty like so many of the current crop of electric hybrids, hows all that extra weight going to impact on the petrol consumption, tyre wear, suspension etc?I think reducing weight should be given more of a priority in car manufacturing. Theres also the matter of where the gas comes from. LETS SAY NO TO FRACKING IN THE UK.

 Offence can only be taken not given- so give it back!

12 March 2014
DBtechnician wrote:

Thats too much of a weight penalty like so many of the current crop of electric hybrids, hows all that extra weight going to impact on the petrol consumption, tyre wear, suspension etc?I think reducing weight should be given more of a priority in car manufacturing. Theres also the matter of where the gas comes from. LETS SAY NO TO FRACKING IN THE UK.

Wouldn't be too concerned, still lighter than the majority of the Mk6 Golf range so really isnt going to impact tyre wear that much.

12 March 2014
To this car's audience, weight penalties, more oomph from a std engine!, driving characteristics etc is of no concern. £5 per hundred miles... now THAT's impressive. But at what cost? They don't list the price premium over the std 1.4 ACT model. A great 2nd hand buy no doubt but will the price premium may make it uneconomical to the average driver?

12 March 2014
scotty5 wrote:

To this car's audience, weight penalties, more oomph from a std engine!, driving characteristics etc is of no concern. £5 per hundred miles... now THAT's impressive. But at what cost? They don't list the price premium over the std 1.4 ACT model. A great 2nd hand buy no doubt but will the price premium may make it uneconomical to the average driver?

Most taxis in the balkans are on LPG, and this is exactly why, it works out at roughly 23p a litre (converting from cm3 to litre volume). They are driven into the ground over 3/4/500,000 km so the initial cost premium starts to become irrelevant.

12 March 2014
...the sporty Golf for dyslexics.

12 March 2014
Seems like a step backwards in the evolution of clean technologies but since the car journalists must profusely eulogise every little step that Volkswagen takes - let's call it a side-step.

14 March 2014
Volvo 940 CNG - Trends
Enviromotive Report
By Ron Cogan | From the May 1995 issue of Motor Trend.
It's only taken VAG nearly 19 years, not that I think this evidences a complete state of catatonia in VW Group's new product development processes...

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