A year and a half ago, I got to drive the seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf for the first time (that particular car is actually featured in the header image for this blog). Prior to this, it had been one of the cars I most anticipated driving, both because I had driven and throughly enjoyed the previous generation Golf, and because of all the praise it was getting from automotive journalists. I loved it then, and now, after driving the seventh-generation Golf for the third time, I think I love it even more.
Though I have not driven a Golf with anything but VW’s 1.6L TDI, I am never disappointed when I do. At 105bhp and 184 lb-ft. of torque, it’s not a particularly powerful engine, but it’s sufficient. The torque resides in all the right places both for daily driving and for the twists and turns and ups and downs of the backroads. Unless you’re looking to blow the doors off other cars when the traffic lights turn green, you really don’t need much more, though you might want to choose the 2.0L TDI for a little more power. That being said, were VW to equip the 1.6 with a 6-speed gearbox instead of the increasingly old-fashioned 5-speed, the extra ratio might just do the trick (though you can almost forgive the 5-speed since it operates so nicely). To top it all off, over the 37,000 miles this car had covered, the dashboard computer was indicating it had averaged 65mpg, and it is hard to argue with that.
The build quality of the Golf is superb all around. It really doesn’t matter how rough of a surface you’re driving over, the Golf remains stable, and you don’t hear any squeaks or rattles. The steering is precise, and though it could do with having a bit more weight, it has good feel. The brakes are good too, with good pedal feel, and stopping the car smoothly and confidently. What’s more, it handles every road well. On the motorway, it is smooth and stable, and on the B-roads of Northumberland with lots of ups and downs and sharp bends, it always remains composed and balanced. In short, it’s just a delight to drive. The only thing I might do different were I to buy my own is to opt for a slightly bigger set of wheels and tyres just to firm up the ride a little.
Inside, the Golf is a very nice place to be. In typical VW fashion, there are quality materials all over, and the fit-and-finish is excellent. The car just feels solid all over. That kind of build quality means that it is also very quiet inside, even at speed on the motorway. Everything is very nicely laid out too, and the driving position is very comfortable. There is plenty of room both in front and in the back seat, and a good amount of storage in the boot. My wife and I have remarked before that for us with our two small children, the Golf would pretty much be the perfect size for us.
When it’s all said and done, I still think the seventh-generation Golf is one of the best cars on the market, and certainly the best in its segment. And I can’t wait to drive it again.
Engine: 1.6L TDI diesel, 105bhp, 184 lb.-ft.
Gearbox: 5-speed manual
Mileage at pick-up: 37,439
Distance driven: 200 miles
Photo location: 55°16’38.3"N, 2°03’58.5"W