What have you done for me lately ?
Diesel engines may well have had their day. Not only are they not as efficient as claimed, they’re also being accused of contributing greater pollution to our cities than petrol engines & for accelerating the increase of illness, the latest being Alzheimers. What then does the company car driver or SME fleet manager do ? Petrol is not as efficient & unless you go for a 2 litre petrol powered version, there’s no oomph when you need it, something all mid-range diesels are good at.
Step forward then the latest Volkswagen Golf powered by a 999cc three-cylinder petrol engine, originally in the Volkswagen up! & similar in terms of it’s design to the Ecoboost engine fitted to Ford’s Focus.
Luckily, the rest of this Golf is the same as in all of the other Golf’s in the range. So, you get a beautiful crafted, simply designed & high quality interior, with room to carry four adults comfortably, even five at a push, with a decent sized boot.
Recently updated, the Golf still looks like a Golf & it’s quite hard to tell even when squinting what has changed auntie Mk7 version. The platform is the same as the Mk 7’s, but the bumpers & front wings have been slightly altered, plus there are new LED tail-lights & headlights. Inside there’s a new clear & user-friendly infotainment system, with the class-first option of gesture control. Not much it has to be siam, but the new Golf is actually cheaper than before.
My family ran a Mk6 Golf Bluemotion diesel for a couple of years. Although performance & comfort were less important than fuel economy, we suffered from a noisy hard ride, thanks to the low-resistance tyres, two of which needed to be replaced after 14,000 miles & a regular combined fuel economy of just 45 mpg, some way shy of the 70mpg+ figure claimed by VW at the time. To add insult to injury, because VW had spent so much time & invested so much money in the development of Bluemotion, customers, including fleet managers had to pay a premium for a car that came less well equipped than a non-Bluemotion version & with it’s elongated gear change & lack of power, didn’t drive as well either.
Fast-forward five years & this could now not be further from the truth. Our test model was a Golf SE Nav 1.0 litre TSI 110 6speed manual which retails at a very comforting £20,260 OTR. Cheap does not been badly equipped though, as our SE Nav came with front & rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, front fog lights, heated front seats & one of the best SatNav systems out there, the Discover 8” colour touchscreen with Car Net, supporting both Apple Car Play & Android Auto & Mirrorlink.It does though, show your finger prints quite badly.
Safety ticks al the boxes with ABS, HBA, ESC, EDL, XDS- electronic differential lock & ASR. Add in curtain front & rear air bags & a drivers knee air bag all standard. Furthermore in keeping with the times, the Golf also comes with a driver alert system, pre-crash preventative occupant protection & automatic post-collison braking.
Of more interest to diesel-heads though is how the petrol Golf drives. Well I have to say that it’s brilliant. Not only does it shift, it does so with a throaty roar & handles impeccably too. My only criticism is that it’s almost too much fun, with a 0-62mph time of just 9.9 seconds & a top speed of 122 mph, meaning it’s hard to drive slowly & therefore economically, as it just wants to be driven. Never mind. After a couple of days of struggling with this concept, I gave up & found myself settling into the engine & not worrying too much about the fuel economy.
I spent a week behind the wheel, which included solo motorway trips, a weekend driving around North Yorkshire, a couple of fully laden airport drop offs & pick up’s & some city dawdling, I’m happy to report that my average fuel economy was 49.8mpg, which I’m sure if I’d tried a bit, could easily have been 55mpg. This was great news because in the first instance, VW’s claimed combined for this model is 58.9mpg, so my actual recorded figure was no where near as far away as in the Buemotion diesel & secondly, with a price tag of around £1500 less than the diesel Bluemotion, it’s cheaper too. Add in C02 emissions of just 109g/km & even your accountant will like it.
Negatives ? Although quiet on the motorway, the engines noise may annoy some around town. And, for drivability, it doesn’t quite match the Focus or Mazda3 for agility, otherwise I can safely say that this was, like the SEAT Ateca last year, the most surprising, in a good way, car that I have driven this year & may well persuade some to give up that 1.6 diesel, including me.
A very handy petrol that will appeal to fleet customers 4/5.