No other car has experienced as much cult success as the Volkswagen Golf. Its bloodline is steeped in legacy and has quietly evolved over the last 38 years culminating in the premium vehicle you see here. The seventh instalment is arguably the most attractive version yet, boasting several nostalgic styling touches of bygone models such as the narrow grille and beading line of the Mk.1 and the C-pillar design of the Mk.2 and Mk.4 editions. Sure, at first glance it may look startlingly similar to the Golf 6 but every panel and crease line is completely new, as is the new MQB platform that it shares with its cousin, the Audi A3. The overall dimensions have been subtly tweaked to mimic the features of a higher-segment vehicle. As such, the front wheels have been moved 43mm further forward to emphasise a longer bonnet while the passenger compartment has been shifted rearward creating what is known as a ‘çab backward’ impression – fancy talk for premium proportions.
Things get even classier inside. From the metallic touches that comprise the facia and door panels to the piano-black inlays and Alcantara-lined seats (spec dependent of course), the feeling you get when strapped behind the wheel is that of high quality and class. I’d even go as far as to say that it’s more inspiring than the new Audi A3. Everything inside has been refreshed including the dials, steering wheel, switchgear and seats. Touch-screen interfaces are standard across the range and are available in 5.0-, 5.8 and 8.0-inch displays. The Golf 7 is 13mm wider than its predecessor and therefore benefits from increased shoulder- and elbow room in both front and rear. Knee room is improved too.
Five engine derivatives will be available from launch comprising a 1.2-litre TSI (77kW), a pair of 1.4-litre TSIs (90 and 103kW) and two 2.0-litre turbodiesels (81 and 103kW). I managed to sample both 1.4-litre TSI engines on the launch drive in Port Elizabeth and can report that both engines are zippy units delivering adequate punch from their forced-induction engines. Naturally, the 103kW version is the most liberating to pedal, offering loads of low-down torque. Much of the car’s liveliness is a result of a 100kg reduction in weight, of which 40kg comes from the engine department. It’s also impressively frugal, featuring BlueMotion technology (stop/start with brake energy recuperation) that is now a standard feature across the range. During a 200km driving stint I managed to register 6.9ℓ/100km, which included a decent dose of enthusiastic driving. Handling is equally as impressive – the steering is direct and confidence-inspiring while the new multi-link suspension and XDS e-diff (also standard) keeps it balanced and stable through the bends.
The secret to this model’s success will lie not only in the quality of the overall product but also its modest price points – the entry-level 1.2TSI comes in at a lowly R233900. I’m genuinely impressed by what the Golf offers as an everyday proposition and may even consider trading-in my Audi A3 2.0T sometime shortly – yep, it’s that good. The Golf comes standard with a five-year/90000km service plan, three-year/120000km warranty and a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty.
Volkswagen Golf 1.4TSI Comfortline
PRICE | R264 900 ENGINE | 1395cc four-cylinder turbocharged, 90kW@ 5000rpm, 200Nm @ 1500-4000rpm TRANSMISSION | 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive SUSPENSION |MacPherson strut, multi-link rear LENGTH/WIDTH/HEIGHT | 4255/1799/1452mm WEIGHT | 1288kg PERFORMANCE | 9.3 sec 0-100kph, 203kph top speed, 5.2l/100km, 120g/km ON SALE | Now