VW Golf S 1.2TSI 13 | 06 | 2013Scotcars rating

    New award-winning VW Golf gets a titchy 1.2-litre petrol: we check it out

    WE ALL KNOW HOW good the latest seventh-generation VW Golf is: awards galore, and it's the current European Car of the Year. So it ain't bad. Now one of the cheapest models in the range, the 1.2TSI S, has arrived in the UK: but is it any good?

    Good? It's brilliant. In fact it's so good it makes you question why you would choose anything else.

    The eight-valve 1.2-litre turbocharged engine, which delivers 104bhp, may be small in size, but it's big on impressing.

    It's just smoothness personified. I'm not joking. It's rare you come across a manual shift which is as positive, precise and light as this. Honestly: why would you go for the auto?

    So, what do you get? How about 0-62mph in 10.2secs, a top speed of 119mph, 57.6mpg and CO2 emissions of just 114g/km: the latter puts it in the 30 quid a year road tax bracket. It's also just group 11 insurance.

    So far then, so good. There is a seven-speed, clever twin-clutch DSG auto version, but I'd recommend you pocket the extra 1400 quid and go for the standard six-speed manual. It's just smoothness personified.

    I'm not joking. It's rare you come across a manual shift which is as positive, precise and light as this. Honestly: why would you go for the auto?

    Externally the 'S' looks rather anonymous, simply because it doesn't have all the bells and whistles you'll find on the more expensive, sportier-type models.

    Simple, elegant and uncluttered

    Inside? Well, it's a Golf. Do I need to say anything else? The fascia styling puts everything just where you would expect it to be, and everything you touch just feels right in terms of tactile quality.

    The simple, elegant and uncluttered lines of the fascia are covered in a lovely soft-touch material, while all the switchgear has the traditional VW Group solidity to it.

    There's a dinky little sports-type steering wheel, and the driving position is flawless. It may be just one up from the entry-level Golf, but the seats in the 'S' are firm and supportive without being hard. They also look stylish in a slightly retro way.

    Class-leading visibility is enhanced by the cute little front three-quarter windows forward of the door mirrors: a lovely touch.

    And while there's a host of electronic wizardry fitted to the 'S' — including an electric handbrake, battery regeneration (which recoups energy during braking), and stop/start — you do get real wind-up windows in the back. How quaint.

    You would be excused for thinking the little 1.2 engine might be a little too audible when it gets underway, but you'd be wrong. It's as close to silent as you're likely to get with a combustion engine.

    The engine and gearbox combo is so well matched and mannered that you'll find yourself just wafting through your daily drive.

    It's brilliantly quiet in the cabin

    Ok, there will be the odd time when you'll crave for a few more horses under the bonnet — think overtaking on a motorway, for instance — but if the majority of your driving is in town or or A-roads, then the powerplant's more than up to the task.

    But wherever you're driving, it's brilliantly quiet in the cabin.

    At 4255mm, the Golf is 56mm longer than its predecessor, with a 59mm longer wheelbase of 2637mm. And because the front wheels are 43mm further forward, there's more interior space.

    The new Golf is also 13mm wider, at 1799mm, and 28mm lower, at 1452 mm, and the boot capacity has been increased by 30 litres to 380 litres. And VW's clever designers have ensured the new, low 665mm sill makes loading easier.

    In five-door form, the 1.2TSI S will set you back £18,160, which is £655 more then the three-door version. The cheapest in the range remains the three-door 1.2 TSI S 5spd, which costs £16,495.

    But here's a thought. If feel the 104bhp from the 1.2TSI just isn't enough for you, and you fancy a few wee extras, check out the 1.4TSI SE.

    For an extra £1695, you not only get an extra 17bhp, but you also get — deep breath — 16in alloys, parking sensors, automatic distance control (ADC), automatic driving lights, multi-function computer, alarm with interior protection, electric rear windows, rain sensor and auto-dimming rear-view mirror, twin exhaust tailpipe, leather-trimmed three-spoke multi-function steering wheel and gearknob, and a clutch of other goodies which, if you bought them separately, would set you back more than £2500. Money well spent, I'd suggest.

    See: I told you the new Golf was brilliant!

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    Jim McGill

    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £18,160 / £18,160
    Engine / Power: 1197cc 6-speed / 102bhp
    How fast?: 0-62mph 10.2secs / Max 119mph
    How big/heavy?: L4255mm W1799mm H1452mm / 1210kgs
    How thirsty/CO2?: 56.5mpg combined / 114g/km
    InsGP/Road tax: 11E / £30
    Alternatives: Audi A3, Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra

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