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Volkswagen Golf: Test Drive Review

Date: 05 November 2012   |   Author: Tristan Young

Category: Lower medium
P11D price: £23,155
Key rival: Ford Focus

In almost every area the seventh-generation Golf does everything that bit better than its predecessor.

While the looks are familiar both outside and in, there are some significant changes beneath the skin. The most important for fleet is a loss of weight to improve efficiency. VW claims the car is up to 100kg lighter, rendering it 23% more efficient. That means the 2.0-litre diesel is now capable of 68.9mpg and has a 106g/km CO2 figure. When the Bluemotion version arrives in mid-2013, some six months after the car's UK introduction, the all-new 110hp 1.6-litre diesel should return 88.3mpg on the official cycle with emissions of just 85g/km - impressive figures for a car in this class. Even the 'regular' and expected best-seller 105hp 1.6 diesel will see figures of 74.3mpg and 99g/km.

The weight-loss plan the Golf has undergone doesn't mean the car has shrunk either. In fact, it is, as with previous generations, slightly bigger than the one before. This means a boot that's 30 litres larger at 380 litres (even with a space-saver spare tyre), more rear passenger legroom and more shoulder room too. In the back there's plenty of leg and headroom to sit a 6ft 2in adult behind a same-height driver.

Standard kit is also good. All cars will come with a colour control screen that, if optioned, can be used for the satnav but will also connect up to a phone or iPod. On SE models and above the cars gain adaptive cruise control as standard.

VW is also offering the 'driver profile' system as standard on SE and higher trims. It features Eco, Normal, Sport and the customisable Individual engine modes, which alter throttle response, steering weight and other parameters. These work best with the 140hp 1.4 TSI petrol engine, itself impressively frugal at 58.9mpg. However, with fleets dominated by diesels, it may remain more of a retail choice.

If there is a weak point to the car, it's the noise of the 2.0-litre diesel engine, which does not match the rest of the car's premium feel and can be intrusive, particularly from a cold start. However, this doesn't stop the new Golf being seriously accomplished, acting like a car from a size above and also from a higher level of brand prestige, which is not that surprising given it shares its underpinnings with the new Audi A3.

The driving experience is comfortable and able, if not quite as lively as that of rivals such as the Ford Focus, but this just adds to the grown-up feel. VW's marketeers even describe the Golf as "a safe option".

Given that it will have rock-solid RVs, there's nothing to stop fleets from buying the Golf safe in the knowledge that not only is it a better car than the one it replaces in almost every respect, but it's also better for cost-conscious firms than almost every other rival.

VW Golf 2.0 diesel GT manual five door
P11D price£23,210 [RRP] (est.)
Model price range£16,330-£24,625
Fuel consumption68.9mpg
CO2 (tax) 106g/km (15%)
BIK 20/40% per month£57/£115
Service intervalvariable
Insurance (1-50)group 15 (est.)
Boot space min/max380/1270 litres
Engine size/power1968cc/150hp
Top speed/0-62mph135mph/8.6secs
On sale January 2013
VerdictThe Golf is just about
perfect for fleet


The Golf is just about perfect for fleet