This much improved version of the seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf might just be all the car you'll ever need. Read our VW Golf review.
Volkswagen's Golf is arguably the best family hatchback, the one against which all others are judged - and in seventh generation form has proved to be the best selling version of this family hatchback ever made. Now it's got a smarter look, an all-new 1.5-litre TSI engine option, more sophisticated media connectivity and a range of important detail changes. If you're shopping in this segment, you might be asking yourself why you should buy a Golf. But perhaps the more pertinent question is whether there's now really any reason why you shouldn't.
Most of the engineware in this VW Golf is carried over from before, but there is an all-new petrol powerplant - Volkswagen is calling it the '1.5 TSI Evo', a four cylinder petrol turbo that uses 'Active Cylinder Management' to cut off two cylinders under light to medium throttle loads. This engine develops 150PS in its standard form, but there is also a 'BlueMotion' version developing 130PS. The other change beneath the bonnet has been applied to the Golf GTI, which had fallen behind some of its rivals in the power stakes. Now, this model develops 230PS in its standard form, or 245PS if you go for the 'GTI Performance' derivative. The other mechanical change made to the line-up is the replacement of the old 6-speed DSG auto gearbox with a more efficient 7-speed unit.
Otherwise, when you have one of the best family hatchback models, things are much as before. At the foot of the range, there's the well-regarded 1.0-litre TSI petrol unit, a three cylinder powerplant developing 110PS. Most Golf buyers though, tend to want a diesel - possibly the 115PS 1.6-litre TDI diesel, but more probably the 2.0-litre TDI, available with either 150 or 184PS. As before, only variants developing more than 120PS get multi-link rear suspension: below that level, your Golf will come with a less sophisticated torsion bean set-up. As before, there's a 2.0-litre turbocharged 4WD Golf R super hatch model at the top of the range. Or, for the same kind of money, a Golf GTE plug-in hybrid model. Want the lowest possible running costs? Then you need the all-electric e-Golf. Either way, it seems Volkswagen has almost everyone's preferences covered.
The first thing you'll notice about this revised Volkswagen Golf is probably its slightly sleeker front end. Many variants now get full-LED headlamps and the air intakes at either corner of the front bumper have been restyled too. Jewel-like LED tail lamps are now standard across the range and on top versions, there are smart animated flowing indicators too. Otherwise, things are much as before - which means that there's a choice between three or five-door hatchback and estate bodystyles, both of which sit on the Volkswagen Group's light, stiff and very sophisticated MQB chassis.
And behind the thinner multi-function steering wheel? Well, as ever, nobody does it better than this. It isn't that it feels especially plush, though the quality of materials used is excellent - and far better, incidentally, in this Wolfsburg-constructed Golf than Volkswagen's similarly priced but Mexican-built compact Jetta saloon. It's just that everything is of just the right quality and feels absolutely fit for purpose. In this revised VW Golf model, the cabin has been given a lift by the addition of smarter decorative trim panels on the doors, the dash panel and the centre console, as well as classier seat covers. Out back, there's a 380-litre cargo bay in the hatch version that's much bigger than that provided by rival Focus and Astra models. It can be extended to 1,270-litres if you push forward the rear seats.
In the words of a previous Volkswagen Group Chairman, the only mistake a Golf can really make is to stop being a Golf, a failing you could never level at this improved seventh generation model. All the reasons you might want to buy one are satisfied here. It looks like a Golf and functions with all the quality you'd expect from the Western hemisphere's most recognised and nominally best family hatchback. This is what happens when all the resources of Europe's leading auto maker are focused on creating the definitive expression of conventional family motoring.
True, it could be more exciting in its more affordable forms and you certainly wouldn't call it inexpensive in comparison with mainstream models in this segment. But then, this isn't a mainstream model any more, as good in every meaningful respect as the premium compact family hatchback models from the fancy brands that are much pricier. It is, in short, a VW Golf made good. Which, if you're shopping in this sector, makes it very desirable indeed.Click here to find out more about our Volkswagen Golf range