- We like...Hush, class, style
- We don't...Nothing
Twenty-six million sales in, the sixth version of this style icon breaks cover. We've driven it and it's very, very goodShorter, lower, wider. That’s the new Golf. But the design-meisters at Volkswagen have moved cleverly to ensure they’ve kept the car’s many loyal buyers content. So while every panel is new, inside and out, it all looks and feels as familiar as a favourite pair of shs.
The front lamps on this Mk6 Golf are the most noticeable difference – but, to spot many of the others, you’d need to park new beside old. The key ones are that the window line is lower, the door handles are new and the side rubbing strakes are now absent from the doors. The Golf now looks leaner, though it’s no lighter: all-up weight is broadly in line with the old one.
The car’s chassis is unchanged, so there’s a little extra width for passengers in the back but otherwise cabin and boot size is as before, which means generous, but not the biggest.
The suspension set-up is also carried over, as are most of the engines from the previous line-up, although the previous 1.9 turbodiesel is replaced with a 2.0-litre 110bhp, adding 5bhp and improving fuel economy while reducing emissions.
Inside, anyone who’s sat in a new-ish Golf will feel immediately at home. The sober looks you’d expect are there, while VW has boosted the quality of what you see and touch – responding to criticism that the previous car’s cabin looked a little low-rent in places.
The angular air vents are new – like the headlamps, they also appear in the just-launched Scirocco sports coupe – as is the classier, more complicated steering wheel. The area around the driver’s knees is also reworked to house an extra airbag. This is a first for the Golf, and brings the ‘bag tally to seven, which ever model you buy.
Euro NCAP, the independent safety assessment body, tested the Golf and gave it five stars for occupant protection, four stars for child passenger protection and three for passenger protection, making it among the safest of its size and price.
To drive, it immediately feels...Golf-y. That means it rides fluidly, and each of the major controls – wheel, brakes, gears – feels sensibly weighted and smooth. Regular models are no firecrackers – they leave that to the GTi model, due this summer – but they feel relaxed and easy, with the composure you’d expect only from a bigger, dearer car. This is all much as it was: the biggest change is in the car’s hush. It is now, simply, very quiet. Cruising at 70mph, you’ll get a faint engine rumble, rustle of wind noise but mostly just...nothing. VW has worked hard, making dozen of tiny changes to silence the car, from an improved engine cover to an extra layer within the windscreen glass.
It all adds up to a very mature, relaxed feel, whichever model you drive. VW wants it to appeal to drivers trading down from bigger cars, and it will. Key to this is a range of big-car options, which are all new.
If you hate reverse-parking at the kerb, there’ll be an option that’ll handle this for you. There’ll also be cruise control which also keeps you a set distance from the car in front, and an adaptive damping system that enables the driver to pick between three settings, to favour ride comfort or handling sharpness.
None are available right now, though: you must wait until summer for each. For now, the range comprises seven engines – four petrol, three diesel – and three trim levels: S, SE and sport. All come well equipped – semi-auto air conditioning is available on all, for example.
Prices increase by 2% over the old car. Should you buy one? Undoubtedly, yes. Nothing else at the price is as smart, as well sorted and as satisfying to drive and own. Every home should have one.
To view new and used Golfs, go to motors.co.uk; Read: 'new Golf tops safety ratings' - click here
- Engines1.4, 1.6, 1.4 TSi petrol, 2.0 diesel
- 0-60 mph13.9secs - 8.0secs
- Insurance groups4-12
Motors.co.uk value verdict: