VW Golf SE 2.0-litre TDI 150PS18 | 01 | 2013Scotcars rating

    VW's seventh-generation of its class-leading Golf hits the streets and bids to stay No1


    It’s almost 39 years since the first VW Golf was revealed, so you’d think that by now we’d all have got used to it – or even bored by any mention of it (watch our video of the all-new VW Golf MkVII). Far from it. When the first one rolled off the production line in Wolfsburg in March 1974, few could have imagined that it would not only overtake the legendary Beetle’s total sales of 21.5 million, but do almost a third as many again to become the world’s most successful car. It’s responsible for a third of the company’s total sales in Britain and even last year with a new model on the way, more than 58,000 were bought to bring total UK Golf sales to an amazing 1.6 million.

    So, far from being seen as just another new car, the seventh generation of the Golf has certainly got people talking, and they’re saying all the right things about the most important new car to appear this year. The most remarkable thing about the latest version is how it manages to be brand new and yet reassuringly familiar at the same time.

    From a distance, it’s obviously a Golf; but move closer and you see the clever detail which the designers have introduced to create something which is sharper, crisper and more modern while holding onto the winning formula which has proved so successful over the years.

    It’s longer, wider and lower than the previous model and the front wheels are set further forward, but it still has the same profile to make it instantly recognisable. Creases on the bonnet, boot and side panels give it a more determined look and they’re coupled with flowing lines which take the eye round the car, connecting the front end bumper, headlights and grille in one clean move.



    The designers and engineers really have pulled out all the stops to make the new Golf one of the best cars I’ve driven this year. It feels brilliant on the road, whatever the conditions and the engines — two petrol and two diesel to begin with — are remarkably perky, yet cleaner and more efficient than ever. Not just that, but the car is quiet on the road too, the result of a lot of work on sound insulation.

    Apart from the improved performance, the technical people have also developed some seemingly small details, but which can make a significant difference to the driving experience and set you wondering why no-one had thought of them before. For example, the doors have a special stepless catch system which allows them to open to any point and hold, rather than the conventional two settings which often leads to door bashing in car parks



    Like every new car, it’s what you don’t see that makes the biggest difference. It's 100kg lighter for a start, and has more interior space to create more legroom and bootspace.

    It's also crammed with some clever innovative technology, such as the eight-inch touchscreen which is actually a contradiction because it has a sensor which detects your finger moving towards it and brings up the range of options before you actually touch it. That gives you access to everything from audio settings to sat-nav (a £735 option), trip information and the range of driving profiles. Each one alters the throttle response, engine management and in the case of the Sport, stiffens the suspension.

    All the usual safety systems are included as standard, but on the higher specification models there’s a vast array of extra equipment, like adaptive cruise control, city emergency braking, driver alert, lane assist and light assist to automatically dip the headlights and alter the beam according to the road conditions and layout. The seats are ‘back friendly’ and I can confirm they are superbly comfortable and supportive, and the bootsill is lower for easier loading and less strain. As you’d expect, the build quality is first class, inside and out.



    I can’t think of any reason why not.

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    Alan Douglas


    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £22,015 / £23,050
    Engine / Power: 1968cc / 150PS
    How fast?: 0-60mph 8.6secs / Max 134mph
    How big/heavy?: L4255mm W1799mm H1452mm / 1150kgs
    How thirsty/CO2?: 68.9mpg combined / 106g/km CO2
    InsGP/Road tax: 18E / Band B £20
    Alternatives: Audi A3; BMW 1;Ford Focus; Honda Civic; Kia Cee’d

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