On R-Line versions there are digital instruments and an 8in central touchscreen that’s given a bit too much to do, although climate controls remain on real buttons, thankfully, and it only takes two quick steering wheel button pushes to disable or enable the lane keep assist.
I didn’t find it as easy as usual in a VW to get a good driving position. With the seat low the front of the squab is high and the wheel didn’t reach far enough to prevent the top section of it being a straight-arm stretch, unless the seat back was too upright. I don’t think competitors are necessarily better, but it’s worth checking it works for you. Rear room is good – the rear bench slides and plays off against boot space too.
And to drive, it’s fine. Motorway stability is good, the steering has a sophisticated, accurate and responsive weight, with jus the ‘right’ amount of self centring and directness. A Ford Puma is more alert, a Kia XCeed (a slightly longer car) a bit more chilled.
The rear suspension is a torsion beam and the dampers passive. The ride is mostly pliant enough, but I think it’d cover surface imperfections with less thudding on smaller tyres/wheels than the 215/45 R18s it comes with – there’s a 205/55 R16 spare under the deep boot floor and I imagine it’d be much nicer on four of those.
The engine’s quiet and smooth but unenthusiastic if left in full auto mode. Legislative forces at work – the 95g/km range average CO2 target is incoming, this car exceeds it by 50% already and if it was overtly peppy it’s be worse still. So the DSG really tries to lug things out in a high gear, reluctant to kick down and making progress treacly unless you’re insistent with the throttle. You can take control of the gears yourself, mind.
Last week I tested an Audi A3 with a very mild hybrid system attached to this drivetrain, which improved things because it electrically filled the torque gap at low revs – it also stop-started much more smoothly. I haven’t tried the 113bhp 1.0-litre on offer but m’colleagues say it’s an enthusiastic powertrain, so if you can try both, do.