3. Volkswagen Golf

Volkswagen Golf Bluemotion front tracking
Credits: Otis Clay
31 Dec, 2012 2:00pm

Volkswagen has thrown down the gauntlet to its rivals. The latest Golf is better than ever and VW dealers should brace themselves for a stampede because the Mk7 model defines the hatchback class. From its compact dimensions and evolutionary styling to its high quality interior and brilliant engine range, it is a car without any serious flaws.

If you want something smart and stylish it ticks these boxes. Spacious and practical, too? Well, a generous interior and big 380-litre boot cover these concerns. The efficient BlueMotion model also promises sub-100g/km emissions and excellent fuel economy, so company buyers and private purchasers are both catered for.

All VW Golfs come well equipped, with features such as stop-start, Electronic Stability Control (ESP), Bluetooth and iPod connectivity and curtain airbags all fitted as standard. You even get the reassurance of a space-saver spare wheel – which is increasingly rare yet very desirable for family motorists. And this is all before you drive it. Then you can marvel at the refinement, comfort, capable handling and responsive controls of the new Golf first hand.

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Cor blimey! The car without "serious flaws". Presumably this hyperbole is intended to warn us not to take this feature too seriously.

I was touched when a Golf fan explained quoting a "high-placed VW boss" that the car's looks were left largely unchanged with a view to safeguarding the residual value of the last generation Golf.

This explanation doesn't make the car look any prettier but at least it provides a rational explanation for the car's largely unchanged looks. The explanation also puts Volkswagen in a good light from a customer's point of view.

The new Golf has nearly won me over. It is lighter, cleaner and more frugal. All the variants are standard fitted with stop-start, ESP, Bluetooth and cruise control. Icing on the cake is that its cheaper than the old car.

Thought some form of "party line" would have to emerge from VW after the rude comments about dull styling expressed by "unbelievers" such as myself. Forgive me for being unconvinced for they are in the business of selling new cars and not in propping up second hand values. Second hand value retentions vary from country to country anyway.

It cannot be in the interests of the manufacturers of any product to introduce what purports to be an entirely new model which is almost impossible to tell apart from the previous one. Those who have to have a new vehicle every year to impress the neighbours will think "why bother" and buy a personalised number plate so no-one can tell how old the vehicle is! Detroit of old used to bring out a new model range with styling amendments every year for this very reason but, in that case, the "works" underneath the body remained substantially unaltered.

Now we have a vehicle where we are told the running gear is new and offers the prospect of substantial savings in manufacturing costs and an albeit modest saving in weight. I don't quarrel with that but only a VWphile can see any exterior difference from the previous model. There is no way I can comment as to whether there are any improvements to the Golf as a vehicle.

I suspect motor shows in eighteen months time will have a rash of concept cars on VW stands of a kind more adventurous than seen in the past, leading to a "MarkVIII" in the near future. Who knows, there may be the VW equivalent of a "DS3 moment" but, having said that, I can hear the sound of piggies preparing for take-off!

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