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Volkswagen Golf Mk VI 1.4TSI 2009 Road Test

Sat, 07 Feb 2009

When I first tested the Mk V Golf I thought at last VW had come up with a Golf that actually lived up to the car’s image. It wasn’t just a step better than the miserable Mk IV, it was a whole leap better. Now the new Golf Mk VI moves the game on a stage further.

Though apparently cheaper to build than the Mk V, it feels even better. The facia gives a higher impression of quality than any other mass-market hatchback. Open the glovebox and you find it’s velour lined instead of the usual plastic bin. And if the designers are considerate enough to have thought of a small reminder flasher in the door mirror you wonder how else they’re looking after you.

You’ll find all mod cons in the central console, by which I mean an aux socket, USB socket and connectors to most modern phones and iPods, so they didn’t skimp there. The rear passengers benefit from their own heater/aircon outlets at the back of the console and their own door speakers.

Unlike Honda, VW didn’t revert to a cheap twisty beam back axle. The new Golf has a sort of multi-link arrangement.

The 1.4 chain-cam engine has a turbo to help it deliver 122PS and a useful 200Nm torque from 1,500rpm. And no worries about the turbo overheating because it’s water-cooled.

You get a 6-speed box as standard, with 6th geared to 30mph per 1,000rpm, which is long for any petrol car, never mind a 1.4. And it never seems to slip into a bottomless pit of turbo lag. Just pulls strongly, pleasantly and well. Like a FIAT Bravo 1.4TJET.

There’s ample room in the back, with more headroom than most, and the SE has a useful armrest-cum-ski-flap to poke long things through. They’ve hollowed out just enough space behind the rear arches to lay a golf bag across your Golf. And under the boot floor, joy of joys, not a full-sized spare wheel, but at least you get a space-saver.

Out on the road, it’s pleasant and quiet to drive. But the steering is far from the revelation I’d been led to believe. There’s no real ‘feel’ and it isn’t linear, like the Focus and Megane so there’s a change in the level of effort as you turn the wheel. It’s not horrible, but it’s just not as good as the Focus or Megane. With snow and ice covering the roads during he week of my test, I didn’t get the chance to push the car safely and check out its ultimate grip, so handling impressions will have to wait.

It didn’t pass the looks test. The female eyes I used in judgement found it wholly unremarkable. Park it next to a Mk V Golf and you can spot the differences. But, as with MINI Mk IIs, when you see one in isolation you’re hard pressed to work out if it’s the new car or the old one.

However, it does do the job a Golf is supposed to and that is to convey the impression that it’s a cut above other mid size hatchbacks and so are you over their owners. The fit and finish and general ambience inside enhance the feeling you have afforded a higher quality car than a Ford. And the 1.4TSI engine is a really pleasant thing to have under the bonnet, far nicer than the average 1.6 and better than Ford’s 1.8.

Offering 40 mpg + economy in normal day to day use, the 1.4TSI 122 is the engine to have and at just under £16k (before discounts) the 1.4TSI SE is the spec to go for.

For prices, availability, specifications, powertrain details, dimensions, and performance figures please click the tabs.

More at www.volkswagen.co.uk

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