VW Golf 1.4 TSI (2009) review

By Georg Kacher 08 September 2008

By Georg Kacher

08 September 2008

This is the first drive of VW’s new-but-same-again Mk6 Golf, a car brought forward from 2010 to 2008 to counteract slow sales and a costly and lengthy build process. But with only mildly revised looks inside and out, can the new VW Golf match the Ford Focus and Renault’s forthcoming Megane? Read on for our verdict on the Golf, and to find out whether Wolfsburg has dropped the ball with its most important car.

How come the new VW Golf doesn’t look new?


We should have received a facelift in 2008, but the Mk5 car was proving too expensive to make and wasn’t exactly flying out of showrooms to the accountants' expectations. Today’s Mk6 Golf is cheaper to build, apparently spending five fewer hours on the production line than its predecessor.

 

So just what is new on the new Golf?


All the body panels are new, bar the roof, and 60 percent of the parts are new. But it was a tough job for the design team, being unable to change any hard points, while the engineering team has to carry over the chassis, engines, suspension and electronics. And from that basis they had to create a quieter, more refined, better to drive Golf.

Parts pinched from the Passat CC, plus gadgets like the automatic parking aid, the low-cost laser-based cruise-control and the integrated sat-nav/radio/MP3/telephone system offer a level of convenience no Astra or Focus can match.

Click 'Next' to read the rest of our new VW Golf Mk6 review

How does the new VW Golf drive?


On the roads of our Icelandic test route, everything inside was hushed. The ride is more supple than ever and the new Golf barely registers cattle grids. Low-noise foil around the windscreen, insulation around the windows and doors, plus smoother door mirrors means those inside hardly hear a thing.

But dynamically not too much is new. The new Golf is more refined, but only a little. But this still makes it the most comfortable and quietest car in its class. It's impressively hushed and comfy.

What about the new Golf's engines?


VW harks on about huge 28 percent mpg improvements, but really this figure only applies when you match the new 158bhp 1.4 TSI Twincharger to the discontinued 148bhp 2.0 FSI. But as ever this Twincharger engine is clever, with lots of low down torque, decent mid-range shove and feels a lot bigger than its 1.4 litres suggest.

It’s even slicker with the seven-speed DSG and while it produces fewer ponies (158bhp compared with 168bhp) than our long-term test Golf, it’s cleaner. With DSG it does 47.1mpg and 139g/km, while our car does 38.7mpg and 174g/km. Big, impressive improvements.

For those after cleaner cars, an even smaller 1.2 TSI engine is coming, while the Golf BlueMotion Mk2 will herald stop-start and brake regeneration. A word of warning though – four of the Mk6 Golf's launch engines will be replaced in 2009.

Click 'Next' to read the rest of our new VW Golf Mk6 review

The Golf has always been great on the inside…


And it remains that way. The Golf's soft-touch dashboard is pure quality, the ergonomics are achingly intuitive and the seats adjust so many ways you'd think you were in a bigger car.

The touch-screen entertainment system is easy to use, easy to read and the rear-view camera is sharp. Pity the screen picks up greasy fingerprints so easily, though...

Verdict


The new Golf is very good. Better to drive than its predecessor, quieter and more refined too. With new looks Wolfsburg will be onto another winner.

But this is not a new car, and only a stop-gap. Underneath the skin the changes may not be enough for the Golf Mk6 to hold its crown once the Megane and Astra appear in the next 12 months...

What do you think of the next VW Golf? Click 'Add your comment' below and have your say

Statistics

How much? £14,500
On sale in the UK: January 2009
Engine: 1390cc 4-cyl turbo and supercharged, 158bhp @ 5800rpm, 177lb ft @ 1500-4500
Transmission: 8.0sec 0-62mph, 137mph, 47.1mpg, 139g/km CO2
Performance: Seven-speed dual-clutch, front-wheel drive
How heavy / made of? 1286kg/steel
How big (length/width/height in mm)? 4199/1779/1479

Ratings

Handling 4 out of 5
Performance 4 out of 5
Usability 5 out of 5
Feelgood factor 4 out of 5
CAR's Rating 4 out of 5

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  • VW Golf 1.4 TSI (2009) CAR review
  • VW Golf 1.4 TSI (2009) CAR review
  • VW Golf 1.4 TSI (2009) CAR review
  • VW Golf 1.4 TSI (2009) CAR review
  • VW Golf 1.4 TSI (2009) CAR review
  • VW Golf 1.4 TSI (2009) CAR review
  • VW Golf 1.4 TSI (2009) CAR review
  • VW Golf 1.4 TSI (2009) CAR review
  • VW Golf 1.4 TSI (2009) CAR review
  • VW Golf 1.4 TSI (2009) CAR review
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