Volkswagen Golf TDI review

13 May, 2014 5:15pm George East

The VW Golf is the reigning champ, and it still offers top quality – but at a price


The brilliant Volkswagen Golf TDI is not at its best in 1.6-litre TDI guise, but the 2.0-litre TDI engine is an excellent choice for a mix of performance and economy. The BlueMotion model is very economical, too.

The Volkswagen Golf TDI diesel engine range is a big part of what makes the ever-popular Golf so affordable to run. These impressive engines are available in almost every model in the range - from the entry-level Golf S to the powerful Golf GTD - and are quiet, efficient and powerful.

Volkswagen's TDI engines are available across the entire Golf model line-up, which in addition to the most popular three and five-door hatchback variants, includes the Golf Cabriolet, the Golf Estate and the new Golf SV.

The entry-level Volkswagen Golf TDI is a 1.6-litre diesel with 88bhp, which returns 74.3mpg and emits 98g/km of CO2. A slightly more powerful 104bhp 1.6-litre TDI engine is also available in the five-door Golf S, as well as in mid-range Golf SE models. This emits a tax-free 99g/km of CO2 and can manage 74.3mpg.

The higher-spec Volkswagen Golf SE gets 16-inch alloy wheels and cruise control as standard. Golf SE TDI Buyers can also opt for Volkswagen's six or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic DSG gearbox, but on the 1.6-litre model that means fuel economy drops marginally to 72.4mpg and CO2 emissions rise slightly to 102g/km - meaning it's not longer free to tax.

The Volkswagen Golf SE is also available with a punchy 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel, which emits a healthy 106g/km of CO2 and will return 68.9mpg. The DSG gearbox is also available with the 2.0-litre diesel unit on the Volkswagen Golf SE five-door, but pushes emissions to 119g/km of CO2 and fuel economy to 62.8mpg.

Volkswagen Golf hatchback 2013 interior

The higher-spec Volkswagen Golf GT TDI shares the same engines as the SE model, meaning it returns the same economy figures. The DSG box is also only available on the the five-door. However, the Golf GT gets front fog lights, parking sensors, 17-inch alloys and a sat-nav system as standard to set it apart from the SE.

Another variant of the Volkswagen Golf is the ultra-efficient Bluemotion model. The Volkswagen Golf Bluemotion emits just 88g/km of CO2 and returns 88.3mpg, meaning it's more efficient than some hybrid cars such as the Toyota Prius and the Honda Insight.

Irrespective of trim level, the Volkswagen Golf TDI gets a top-quality cabin which features plenty of soft-touch plastics - the fit and finish are second to none, and the soft-grain leather used on the steering wheel and gearlever looks and feels superb.

The Golf's wraparound dashboard is well laid out and thanks to a good amount of seat and wheel adjustment, finding the perfect driving position is easy. The Golf is also practical thanks to a spacious cabin and a deep 380-litre boot, which increases to 1,270 litres when the 60:40 rear seats are folded flat.

The Volkswagen Golf inspires plenty of confidence behind the wheel thanks to its strong grip and excellent body control. Despite being not as immediately responsive as the stiffer SEAT Leon, which is also available with the same TDI engines, it's surprisingly nimble through corners and its supple ride makes easy work of big bumps and potholes.

Expect the car to be extremely reliable, thanks to its robust build and proven mechanicals it shares with other cars from the Volkswagen Group. In our 2014 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, the Golf finished 18th out of 150 cars, with owners praising its in-car technology, ride quality and handling.

In addition to being great to drive and fuel efficient, the Golf scored the maximum five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash tests. Volkswagen also fits seven airbags as standard kit, along with stability control and post-collision braking. A city safety kit and other extras such as lane keep assist and auto-brake are also available across the Golf range.