The new Volkswagen Golf doesn’t get any cheaper than this £16,495 three-door 1.2 S model. But should you consider the entry-level car?
Given its status in the range, you might expect the S to look a bit more basic. The no-cost Tornado Red paintwork helps make the most of the clean, premium design and draws attention away from the fact that this car is missing stylish extras like tinted windows, alloy wheels and foglights.
Power comes from the VW Group’s tried and tested 1.2-litre turbocharged engine, but while this produces 104bhp in the base SEAT Leon and Skoda Octavia, here it delivers only 84bhp. You can have it with 104bhp, but it’ll cost an extra £1,010 – and if you do most of your driving around town, you can probably do without it.
That’s because this engine offers the same kind of low-speed punch of acceleration in first and second gears as the more powerful version. But put your foot down at higher speeds, and you accelerate so slowly that you may find yourself checking the speedo to ensure you really are going faster.
If you’re on a motorway, it’s better to have the punch of the 104bhp TSI, as well as the extra gear ratio its six-speed manual box provides. Yet running costs won’t influence you, as the two models return identical 57.6mpg economy and sit in the same road tax band.
From behind the wheel, the cheapest Golf feels like any other. It’s comfortable and refined, and has the same tight, if slightly uninspiring, handling. The interior isn’t quite as special, though. The plastic steering wheel is plain and doesn’t feature any controls – this stands out when most Golfs have leather-wrapped steering wheels. Thankfully, there are a few gadgets to compensate, like DAB radio, Bluetooth and air-con.
It looks like great value – and it is if you want a Golf – but there are better options out there. The Leon SC can be bought with the more powerful 104bhp 1.2 TSI engine for £5 less in SE trim, which includes cruise control, a leather steering wheel, foglights and 16-inch alloys.
A Golf with the same engine and equipment will cost you more than £18,000.