RAC Cars News


Seventh Generation VW Golf

By raccars Published

Volkswagen's Golf is unassailable in terms of auto industry success. It is a hit with press and public alike and is the standard by which all other small family hatchbacks are judged. This year brings us the seventh version of the Golf, slightly larger, quieter and more efficient than those that have gone before.

Some 30 million Golfs have been sold since 1974, but VW is currently facing more competition than ever before. Its own sister companies, Skoda and Seat, are offering cheaper cars in this class, that steal heavily from the Golf, while increasingly budget conscious buyers are overcoming their badge snobbery in favour of attractively priced South Korean rivals.

However, the newest Golf still stands head and shoulders above the competition.

There are effectively two versions of the Mark 7 Golf, divided by their rear suspension set ups. The basic models come with a choice of 1.2 litre TSI petrol engines, returning 85 or 105bhp and a 1.4 litre TSI petrol unit, at 122bhp. There is also a 1.6 litre turbo diesel option. Somewhat surprisingly, these entry-level models have been decreed too lowly to benefit from the impressive multi-link rear suspension system that so distinguished the Mk 5 & 6 Golfs, in favour of a more old-fashioned, torsion beam system. However, this is not all that noticeable at this level of performance, partly thanks to the addition of the previous Golf GTi's XDS electronic diff lock.

The second, higher performance version of the new Golf deservedly and necessarily gets that sophisticated suspension set up. This contributes substantially to the rewarding and dynamic handling you'd expect from the 150bhp, 2.0 litre TDI or 2.0 litre, 220bhp Gti. There is a further performance version available – a clever 1.4 litre TSI ACT, for Active Cylinder Technology.

On the outside, the Mk 7 Golf retains that familiar, balanced shape, but with more modern lines and 100kgs lighter than its predecessor. The longer wheelbase results in a roomier cabin that will be most noticeable to rear seat passengers. The boot is also bigger than the previous model and the rival Focus or Astra and has a helpfully low and flat loading space. The interior boasts high-quality materials and the usual understated perfection we've seen in previous models.

Purchase price varies between about £16,000 - £25,000, but with efficiency improved by 23%, running costs should be lower than before. In effect, it's worth the money, as the latest Golf is the best yet.

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