Volkswagen Golf 1.2 TSI

23 Apr, 2010 12:39pm Luke Madden

Hatch favourite now comes with efficient turbo engine


Car fans who love driving but want to keep a close eye on running costs at the same time will fall for this version of the Golf. The attractive price buys you unrivalled luxury and refinement in this class, while the new 1.2-litre super-turbo powerplant serves up real thrills – and great fuel economy. With petrol prices creeping ever higher, this small, punchy engine could prove to be a real winner, and it only adds to the appeal of the latest Golf package.

Brilliant driving dynamics, excellent build quality and a badge you can trust... it’s a formula that has kept the VW Golf at the top for decades.

But with cheaper rivals on the scene, the expensive hatch is facing some serious competition. Is it still worth the money? We took to the road in an entry-level S variant with the firm’s new 1.2-litre TSI engine to find out.

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the VW Golf

Fitted with a turbocharger, the unit is a perfect demonstration of just how much combustion engines have changed over the last three years. It offers the performance of a 1.8-litre without the fuel bills, and gives the car strong green credentials, plus the promise of a fun driving experience.

From the outside, the S looks much like any other Golf, but there are a few key things missing – foglights, chrome grille inserts and alloy wheels all cost extra. Without these additions, the car appears plain, even
in our model’s £430 optional metallic Passion Red paint.

It’s a different story inside. High-quality soft-touch materials, coupled with comfortable seats, an excellent driving position and brilliant soundproofing, give it the feel of an executive saloon.

There’s plenty of head and legroom in the back for adults, but the Golf falls down slightly with its load area. It offers only 350 litres of space – small for this class – although with the rear seats folded flat, this rises to a more reasonable 1,305 litres.

The cabin is a little short on kit, too. While the Golf gets air-con, seven airbags and electric front windows as standard, cruise control, a leather multifunction steering wheel and a touchscreen stereo are optional. Even electric rear windows will set you back £165.

On our fully loaded car, the raft of extras included took the price beyond £18,000.

The real star of the package, though, is the engine. This is the second cheapest Golf, but its 1.2-litre turbo is smooth, lively and feels much quicker than the 10.6-second 0-62mph time suggests. In town there’s easily enough power, and at cruising speeds you’ll never find yourself struggling to keep up with traffic.

Slip into sixth, and the refined engine combines with the quiet, comfortable cabin to give excellent motorway progress. Adding to the appeal is its 49.6mpg economy and 134g/km CO2 output. The Golf rides well, too; the excellent suspension insulates the driver from potholes and harsh surface changes, while also making the Golf capable on twisty B-roads.

Strong grip and a composed chassis ensure it’s easy to make swift progress. The only flaw with the handling is the speed-sensitive power-steering, which is precise and well weighted, but a little short on feedback.

Even in its most basic form, the Golf is a great all-rounder, and the competitive £16,565 price cements its place as the family hatchback of choice.

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But it looks so boring and has no soul!!!!

Good write up by auto express, although I would say that whilst the S doesn't have fogs, and alloys, even the SE you have to pay for Fogs, and you still have to cough up for a leather steering wheel,outrageous at that level of price.

Having looked around I think it's a very hard car to beat, for comfort,quality, and cabin space. Looks are not a wow factor, but when it comes down to it, most of the time is spent inside. Well unless you happen to be a car park attendant.


Nice write up but I am confused as to why you question the cost adding the extras!!! The reason VW have brought the S out is to bring in new customers and they probably won't care about fog lights, alloys, rear electric windows or cruise control.

At that price, aircon, electric windows, CD player with aux input and quality build is probably all the customer wants especially when you couple that with cheap insurance and running costs

If you want an Se spec car with the same engine, try the Seat Leon. But a good write up regarding the engine for those who are waiting for the Leon to emerge

Maybe if you don't fall asleep looking at the styling before you make it to the drivers seat.

It is a 1.2 8valve unit, it has been described by almost (guess who called it smooth) everybody as gruff and noisier than most 1.6 or the 1.4 TSI unit. It is not considerably slower but lacks low end torque whereas the 1.4 has longer ratios and still pulls stronger while being inaudible on the motorway.

Not a really good "magazine" arent'you? Stick with the 1.4 tsi

For £16k you can get a Skoda Yeti SE , with same engine as this golf. Oh and the price includes 17" alloys, air con, rear parking sensors etc. Expecting delivery in a few weeks:)

can just imagine it's designers sticking 4 wheels onto a shoe box and shouting EUREKA!!! ...YA WE HAVE DESIGNED ZA PERFECT GOLF..

Key specs

* Price: £16,565
* Engine: 1.2-litre 4cyl turbo
* Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
* Power/torque: 103bhp/175Nm
* 0-62/top spd: 10.6 secs/118mph
* Econ/CO2: 49.6mpg/134g/km
* Equipment: Stability control, electric windows, trip computer, air-con, MP3-compatible stereo
* On sale: Now