The Volkswagen Golf is synonymous with quality. I ran a MK 7 1.6 TDI for a day and it was absolutely faultless. An excellent car, rivals will struggle to pull out a trump card…
It is immediately apparent how capable a car the Golf TDI is. With 103 bhp on tap, it isn’t what you would call fast, but the expected diesel mid-range punch is perfectly adequate. Alter the Driving Mode to Sport and, as you would expect, throttle response is sharpened so the go is a little more swift. At steady speeds, motorway cruising for example, the Golf wafts you along effortlessly. It feels ultra composed, and happy to sit at around 70 mph. Should the need to overtake arise, 184 lbs ft of diesel wallop will safely and swiftly despatch the required acceleration.
A very clever tool to use is Volkswagen’s new Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC). You guessed it, it adapts to the proximity of vehicles ahead. Set the system to hover at 75 mph for example, and assuming the vehicle in front decelerates, the Golf will too. It is a peculiar sensation as your feet have no input, but remarkably clever. It works via a radar which you can see in the photograph below, set into the lower grille, below the registration plate.
Even when the ACC system is deactivated, the radar is still functioning. It continues to monitor the distance between your car and the vehicle or object ahead. Get too close and it will automatically apply the brakes and emit an angry beep, whilst displaying an image of a car on the multi-function display in between the clock faces.
There are a variety of Driving Modes available to choose from. They are; Normal, Sport, Eco and Individual. Pretty self explanatory, and the majority of my time with the car was spent in Individual. In this setting, there is a menu with a series of drop down boxes on the touch-screen multimedia interface with options for; Steering, Suspension, Engine, and ACC. In Normal and Eco modes, the steering is very light and sensitive. Sport mode incorporates more resistance in the steering rack. I wouldn’t call it feedback, though. However, a weightier rack just makes steering inputs feel more natural and the car feels more planted. Suffice to say, in my Individual setting, I tailored Sport steering and suspension. The Sport suspension setting firms up the dampers, but ride quality is not compromised. Again, it just enhances the feeling of a flat and steady ride.
The brakes are strong and although the pedal is quite soft, feedback is undoubtedly present. There is no dead travel before the bite of pad to disc which is key in driver confidence. Stopping distances are easy to read as a result of an effective braking system with a communicative pedal.
Body control is exceptional. Even in Normal mode the response of steering inputs is accurate and there is minimal roll. I would certainly recommend using Sport or create an Individual setting for B roads, though. These get the best from the car, its dynamic abilities, faultless ride, and fluency. In comparison to the equivalent Renault Megane, the Golf is a far superior proposition. It may be a little slower, but the way the Golf drives is more pleasant – it actually feels like you’re driving the car as your inputs are answered.
From the outside, the Golf MK 7 is a more angular car than previous generations; MK 5 and 6. This car in five door is more exclusive than rivals thanks to its shape. The majority of five door hatchbacks tend to look standardised and a little bland. The Golf however, retains its reputation and like McCoy’s crisps, “Accept no Imitations…” The three door Golf is better looking again and looks quite sporty thanks to its low roof line. The standard 16″ alloy wheels look good and have a brushed finish but will be a nightmare to keep clean as the crevices in between the smaller spokes are a struggle for the majority of cleaning brushes. A small sacrifice though, as the other no-cost option look too plain. A 17″ wheel which retains a sporty style will be easier to clean but are a £595 option.
The crease either side of the bonnet, starting from the innermost corner of the headlamp, joining the A-pillar is one of the defining features of the car, combined with the chrome strip on the grille give the Golf a subtle sporty edge over competition.
Inside the Golf MK 7, things have moved on considerably. The MK 6 was basically a face-lifted MK 5 with more rounded air vents. The dashboard is now angled towards the driver with brushed aluminium-look trim. The standard cloth seats look a little dull unfortunately. However, sitting in them is a different story, they are very comfortable and have good support. The leather option, although £2,095 is a serious recommendation as it enhances the look of the interior and support is also greater with bigger leg and torso bolsters.
The flat-bottomed leather rimmed steering wheel is a wondrous thing. Its contours feel pleasant and the width is spot on. The steering wheel in theBMW 1 Series is too thick and cumbersome. The hand controls on the horizontally-opposed spokes are idyllically ergonomic. Your thumbs can operate with great ease all of the functions built into the steering wheel.
There is a cubby-hole (open on the photograph below) where there is the option to connect your iPhone. Playing music from your mobile telephone is pretty easy; connect up, press the Media button at the side of the touch-screen and select your chosen track and it will play through the stereo, displaying track information. You can cycle through your music via the steering wheel control at the three o’clock position.
I thoroughly recommend the Volkswagen Golf MK 7 TDI. It is a fabulous hatchback that delivers effortless performance, quality finish – inside and out, and is highly practical. A perfect everyday car which you will be safe in the knowledge, will not let you down. I drive a Golf myself, so does my mother, but I feel I have good reason to be biased as the MK 7 is such a nice car to live with a drive every day. It has plenty of equipment and the interior quality provides a great driver environment.
Engine Size: 1.6 litre, in-line four, 16 valve, diesel
Top Speed: 124 mph
Power: 103 bhp
Torque: 184 lbs ft
Transmission: five-speed manual
Driven Wheels: front
0-62 mph: 10.5 seconds
Combined MPG: 88.3
Length: 4,255 mm
Width: 1,799 mm
Height: 1,452 mm
Kerb Weight: 1,280 kg
OTR Price: £21,270
Star Rating: * * * * *