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Published on April 26th, 2013 | by The Town Crier


Road Test Volkswagen Golf Mk 7

It is hard to believe that the VW Golf celebrates its 40th birthday next year and that it was actually the direct replacement for the VW Beetle that had been around since the Second World War. The Golf has always been a trendsetter; it practically invented the concept of the family hatchback and it did invent the hot hatch with the 1976 Golf GTi. Throughout its lifespan it has been a watchword for build quality, reliability, practicality and refinement. Like the Land Rover Defender, it is also one of the few truly classless cars, just as likely to be driven by a cleaner or a city trader. Evidently, the newly launched Mk 7 has a lot to live up to.

The Golf has always evolved from generation to generation and the Mk 7 is clearly recognisable as a descendent of the 1974 Mk 1. It is a fine looking car and a step forward from the previous version which, to my eye, always looked a little too tall and angular. This one appears wider, lower and more curvaceous. It is nicely proportioned and looks good from any angle. I like the way the headlights slope down to the narrow grill and prominent wheel arches that blend smoothly into the wings. Climb inside and it is as if you have just got into a car that costs half as much again. There is plenty of space; this model is longer and wider than the Mk 6 (though considerably lighter) and this translates into plenty of room for 5 adults and their luggage. The quality of materials is exceptional and so is the fit and finish; I was also impressed by the amount of kit that comes as standard including a full colour infotainment screen.

Volkswagen were one of the first manufacturers to fit a diesel into a family car, way back in 1976, and now they are leading the charge back to small, high efficiency petrol engines. The model I drove had the less powerful 122bhp 1.4 TSI petrol engine but it was remarkably peppy, with plenty of power available from low down in the rev range. On paper the performance is fairly modest but, in the real world, it drives like a GTi. All this boy racer stuff hammers the fuel consumption though; I averaged in the low 40s rather than the high 50s that Volkswagen claims. The handling is safe and secure but, somehow, makes the car feel smaller than it actually is; you can have a lot of fun chucking this Golf down a twisty country road.

Golfs have always been known for their refinement; invariably they set the standard for the class, but the Mk 7 takes this to new levels. At low speeds the engine is almost inaudible and the noise coming through the suspension is felt rather than heard. Of course, there’s some tyre and wind noise at motorway speeds but really very little, about the same as an executive saloon. The ride quality is excellent too, not quite magic carpet standards but far better than a hatchback has any right to be. All Golfs are expensive and this generation is no different; my mid-range model has a list price just shy of £20k without any options. However, buyers can take heart from the high resale values and I’m told that the dealers are open to a bit of judicious haggling; you should be able to chisel a few hundred off the list price.

The idea of evolution is that each generation is a little bit better than the last one. Volkswagen has had 7 goes at improving the Golf and I’m struggling to see how on earth they’re going to make the Mk 8 better than this.

Kit Johnson

Model tested Volkswagen Golf 1.4TSI SE             £19,645 RRP  

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