- ROAD TEST VOLKSWAGEN GOLF 1.4 TSI SE (2014)
NOTHING like sticking with a formula that works.
Close on 39 years since the first Volkswagen Golf model rolled off the production line, more than 29 million of them have been sold.
We’re now into the seventh generation of the range that can genuinely claim to be the benchmark by which all small family cars are judged.
And has the Golf changed that much? Well I parked the latest 1.4 TSI three-door next to a K-reg Golf GL model to see what difference a quarter century makes.
The windows and lights are more slender, there’s a better flow to the new car’s profile and the wheels are more modern, otherwise the pair still has a lot in common.
Whether you favour the ultra conservative approach or crave something altogether more fresh, with the latest Golf you are looking at the current world and European car of the year.
Thanks to new production techniques the Golf Mk VII is appreciably lighter than the one it replaces, helping make it 23 per cent more efficient – in the case of the tested model good for 50 miles per gallon.
It’s also safer courtesy of hi-tech safety systems plus a more robust body using high strength steel, which is five times stronger than the standard metal.
Inside what’s a simple, unfussy cabin there’s enough rear space to seat three adults – provided you don’t mind a slightly perched centre position – with ample leg, head and shoulder room, plus a boot with 30 litres more capacity.
It also has a lower lip for easier loading and an adjustable boot floor.
Then there’s the quality of cabin materials – tough, durable and classy; even the glovebox closes with more assurance than the doors of some cars.
Power is via a fresh range of petrol and diesel engines, all of which incorporate Stop/Start and battery regeneration systems.
The 1.4-litre TSI powerplant mated to a slick six-speed manual transmission and producing 122PS, makes the Golf a truly sweet car to drive with polished ride and positive steering.
In the most popular SE trim it costs £18,990 for a three-door version with a £655 premium for five-door.
Not exactly cheap, but well equipped and safe, with a multi-collision brake set-up that automatically brakes the vehicle after an impact to minimise the chance of a second crash, now standard across the range.
Certainly there are cheaper, more stylish and no doubt quicker cars around, but none match the Golf’s all-round appeal, nor will they hold their value as well.
- SPEC CHECK
- MAKE: Volkswagen.
- MODEL: Golf 1.4 TSI SE 3-door.
- ENGINE: 1,390cc, 4-cyl petrol.
- POWER: 122PS at 5,000rpm.
- PERFORMANCE: 0-62 in 9.3 secs, top speed 126mph.
- ECONOMY: 42.8mpg Urban, 65.7 Extra Urban, 54.3 Combined.
- CO2 EMISSIONS: 120g/km.
- BiK RATING: 15%.
- INSURANCE: Group 14 (1-50).
- PRICE: £19,200 on the road.
- Dynamics, efficiency, build, safety.
- List price.
- LOOKS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4
- EQUIPMENT . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
- RIDE AND HANDLING . . . . . 5
- PERFORMANCE . . . . . . . . . . 5
- VALUE FOR MONEY . . . . . . . 4