It's one of the hottest new cars of 2009... And Auto Express has got behind the wheel first.
Now in its sixth generation, the latest Volkswagen Golf is shorter and lower than its predecessor, but still instantly recognisable. It's stylish body looks modern and overall the design is less fussy than before. But with an unchanged wheelbase, cabin space is similar. The extra width helps rear passenger room but boot capacity is the same.
Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the VW Golf
The dash design is similar to the current model's, but the central console is now angled more towards the driver, while the instrument binnacle features white backlit dials. Quality has taken a step forward too, as a result the Golf’s cabin is once again class leading but it’s the new levels of refinement that’s the most impressive.
Thanks to new sound insulation and a laminated windscreen the Golf’s ability to isolate road and wind noise is excellent, it’s noticeably more refined than its rivals in this segment, while the new common rail 2.0-litre TDI is impressively civilised too. The chassis is very capable as well; high grip levels, a revised stability control system and nicely weighted controls mean its great to drive. The GT model gets 15mm lower sports suspension, which adds a firm edge to the ride but this aside the damping is supple and composed.
And for the first time Volkswagen’s Adaptive Chassis Control active damper system is an option on the Golf, as is the automatic parking ParkAssist technology. With BlueMotion, GTI and more powerful diesel models coming next year, Golf should be big in 2009.
* Engine: 2.0-litre TDI, 138bhp
* 0-60mph: 9.3seconds
* Top speed: 129mph
* Co2: 142g/km
* Economy: 52.3mpg
* Standard equipment: Knee airbag, stability control, 17-inch alloy wheels, multifunction steering wheel, air conditioning, static cornering lights, heated mirrors and cruise control.
* On sale: January 2009