VW Golf 2.0 TDI SE

1 Jan, 2013 12:00pm Mat Watson

We get behind the wheel of the new Volkswagen Golf to see if it still sets the standard in UK spec


VW has really moved the game on with the new Mk7 Golf, thanks to a hugely impressive interior and incredible refinement. It’s now such a complete car that rivals trail in its wake. There will be those who find it a little boring, predictable and maybe too mainstream, but as an ownership proposition, it is unquestionably the best model in its class.

We love the new Volkswagen Golf here at Auto Express. It impressed us when we first climbed behind the wheel in Sardinia, and then when we got our hands on a left-hand-drive model in Britain it blew away the competition in our group test. Now, we’ve driven a final UK-spec right-hand-drive Golf – and can report that it feels just as fantastic.

In fact, we could review it in only nine words: this is the only car you will ever need. But is it the only car you will ever want?

Not necessarily. Those looking for the finest-handling hatchback should get a 1 Series. If value for money is your key motivator, then wait for the new Skoda Octavia. And if it’s style you demand, no small family car turns heads like the new Mercedes A-Class. By comparison, the Golf looks a bit boring.

However, while it’s not the most exciting car in its class, it is the nicest to sit in. VW has raised the quality bar so high that the Mk7 not only feels more upmarket than its main rivals, it can also shame models from the class above.

Equipment is good, too. The entry-level version gets a 5.8-inch touchscreen with DAB radio, Bluetooth and iPod connectivity, but the sweet spot in the range is our mid-spec SE.

It adds goodies such as auto headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control and comfort seats which are so good, they’ve even won an award for being back-friendly.

In addition to the usual array of airbags and safety systems, the SE gets VW’s City Emergency Braking system, which can prevent accidents at low speeds. Comfort is another area where the Golf excels.

Even on the standard suspension it has the ride quality of a limousine, gliding over bumps in the road as if they’re not there. It’s also very quiet – at everyday speeds, you can literally hear a pin drop.

It helps that our car’s 2.0-litre diesel is so smooth as well as punchy. In fact, you could easily assume it’s a petrol turbo engine. There’s no mistaking the 2.0-litre TDI’s efficiency, though: VW claims it can return 68.9mpg.

A key reason for this strong economy is the Golf’s low kerbweight. The MkVII is 100kg lighter than its predecessor, and this also means it’s more agile and fun – if not quite Focus fun.

There’s a vast array of cabin storage spaces, and the boot now has 30 litres more room than before, at 380 litres. A lower lip makes it easier to load, and an adjustable boot floor is standard. Space in the back is generous enough to accommodate three adults, although the transmission tunnel gets in the way of the middle passenger’s feet.

So nothing is perfect – not even the new Volkswagen Golf. But it gets pretty close. And while it’s not the cheapest, best-handling or most attractive model in its class, it’s up there on all fronts. As we said back at the beginning, it really is the only car you will ever need.

Key specs

  • Price: £22,015
  • Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbodiesel
  • Power: 148bhp
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 8.6 seconds
  • Top speed: 134mph
  • Economy: 68.9mpg
  • CO2: 106g/km
  • Equipment: 5.8-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, iPod connectivity, Emergency City Braking
  • On sale: Now