It’s hard to understand the allure of a Volkswagen Golf……until you’ve driven it.
Although the Golf is an iconic car and hugely popular across the world, it’s not the most attractive looking hatchback – it has come a long way since its launch in 1974 though.
Volkswagen has very much taken the ‘If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it’ attitude with the exterior styling of the Volkswagen Golf 7 and changes to the outside of the car are subtle. Although less boxy looking than previous generations, there’s no mistaking that it’s a Golf.
I did like the front LED lights though and you cannot fault its drivability.
The interior of the top of the range Highline model I was driving was quite plush, with vellore/cloth upholstery and a glossy black surround on the centre console.
The instrument panel was at-a-glance friendly, with big, easy-to-read dials.
Reading lights were available over the back seats as well as both the passenger and driver’s seats. The cabin also had ambient lights on the doors.
The sports seats were comfortable and leg room was great in the front and quite adequate in the back.
The boot in this car was decent enough considering the size of the car. It also comes with a spare wheel.
The six-speed manual 1.4litre petrol model I was driving was choc-a-bloc with technology, including rear, front and side parking sensors, self parking, fatigue detection, speed sign recognition, and an excellent adaptive cruise control.
The heated seats – for the front seat passenger as well as the driver – were great for cold winter days.
I absolutely loved driving this car. While there were loads of toys to play with, at a basic level it’s velvety smooth on the road and there was great pep in the engine.
My route was mostly city, suburban and urban motorway and the test car handled beautifully. Acceleration was swift and smooth and it was very fast at the lights.
The stop and start technology was great in the city, as it cut the engine when the car was stopped in traffic and restarted immediately when you put the car back in gear.
I’m generally not a fan of electric parking brakes but the one in the Golf didn’t bother me.
This car also features auto-hold, which activates automatically when you stop the car and the green parking brake icon turns to red when the parking brake is applied.
Adaptive cruise control in the Volkswagen Golf is excellent. This system slows your car down or speeds it up to keep pace with the car in front – brilliant on the motorway.
The self parking feature in this car is also great for urban drivers who are not confident with parallel parking. Basically it finds a suitable parking space and steers the car into the space for you – to within millimeters of the kerb. All you have to do is supervise its movement, while working the accelerator and the brake.
A number of controls can be activated from the steering wheel, including cruise control, volume control and the menu, and at first glance I thought that it looked a bit busy. However, it turned out to be quite easy to use.
The test car also came with a 5.8inch multimedia screen in the centre console. I also liked the radio – while six stations showed up on the main display, a touch of a button brought you to a screen where all of the radio stations were autotuned. The volume also lowers automatically when you put the car into reverse.
Overall, while I wasn’t bowled over by the exterior look of the Volkswagen Golf 7, I found it fantastic to drive and I enjoyed every minute behind the wheel. It’s the kind of car that you can confidently take anywhere.
The Volkswagen Golf is available now, with prices starting from €19,995. The top of the range Highline variant I was driving costs from €26,745. The test car, complete with optional extras, cost €33,081.
Engine: 1.4-litre 140hp ACT TSI (petrol)
Acceleration: 0-100km/h in 8.4seconds
Maximum Speed: 212km/h
CO2 emissions: 112g/km
Annual road tax: €200 (Tax Band A4)