If ever I hear news of a new hatchback on the automotive market, I always turn to one manufacturer in particular for a comparison: Volkswagen. Whether comparing a small hatchback or a large one, Volkswagen have always got you covered with either the Polo, the Golf and most recently, the Up. Therefore, when a new version of a VW hatchback comes to fruition, the antennae of car reviewers such as DM and myself are very much tickled. And today, I bring you some interesting details concerning the new VW Golf – the true epitome of the hatchback.
The new Golf is in fact Mark VII in a long and historic line of cars; it is safe to say that the Golf has an excellent German pedigree that can be traced all
the way back to 1974. At that time, the Mark I Golf was built as a replacement for the Beetle, a car that some might say developed something of a bad name between 1939 and 1945… So what does this new version offer us?
For starters, the exterior has been entirely remodelled – the car appears more sleek and sophisticated, perhaps with an eye to rivalling the new Mercedes A-Class or BMW 1 Series.
Remember, though, that VW as a brand does not target the luxury market (excluding the Phaeton and the Touareg) and therefore, cannot be considered a direct competitor of Audi, Mercedes-Benz &c. Instead, the VW is a car for the people, and this proves to be a love or hate feature of many of their cars. It is apparent in every new VW we see rolling off the line that a choice has been made to favour functionality and precision over flamboyance and style. Whilst this conservative approach results in a tidy and efficient car, I’m afraid that the Golf doesn’t make you feel quite as special as many of its ‘rivals’, and that, I feel, is the most disappointing feature of the car.
As for the interior, VW serve up the usual aesthetically pleasing yet visually bland materials. As you’d expect from Volkswagen, every single piece of trim (that I could see and play with) fits perfectly into the cabin – the wraparound dashboard flows seamlessly across the front of the car and hugs the driver, providing all driving necessities (Radio, Air Conditioning etc.) in close proximity to the wheel. The most basic model (The Golf S, starting at £15,827) doesn’t necessarily feature every single gadget and amenity that you could wish for, but quality remains throughout the range and it is clear that despite the hard financial times that have fallen on the automotive industry, VW have not scrimped on the materials. Each model (including the S) receives a 5.8” colour display that uses an interface that I found to be similar to a smart phone; no doubt this will appeal to the younger generations as well as seasoned Golf aficionados.
Sadly, the Golf does suffer slightly with its performance, the 1.2 litre S Petrol being the most sluggish of all. Nevertheless, if you did go in for this tiny engine, you’d be paying the petite sum of £110 for VED (Road Tax) and receiving more than 54mpg! These figures are highly competitive for a car that can seat 5 adults in comfort. My pick of the bunch is the mid-range Golf 1.4 TSI Match 5dr Hatchback. Let’s have a look at some facts and figures:
Max. Speed: 124mph
Acceleration: 0-62mph in 9.5 seconds
CO2 emissions: 144g/km
Fuel economy: 45.6mpg
Euro NCAP Safety Rating: 5 (out of 5)
Insurance group: 17
VED Band: F (£135)
So, to conclude. The Golf is indeed still the Daddy, and remains the benchmark in the ever growing population of the hatchback world. It’s got an excellent safety record, it’s fairly quick, superb ride quality and for most models, cheap to tax. However, the mid-range discussed above doesn’t return particularly good fuel economy and isn’t the cheapest hatchback to insure.
I compare the Golf to a well aged bottle of Scotch; it has had nearly 40 years to mature, and you can tell just by looking at it. On the grounds of the Golf being just a tiny bit boring, it receives a well deserved 8 out of 10.