“VW Golf”, a name synonymous with the term “the people’s car”, after all, most of us at some stage or another have driven a Citi Golf, or owned one, or learnt to drive in one; not to mention the fact that many of our parents did the same. So the Golf moniker has been around for some time, and it has always been known as the hatchback to set the bar, the benchmark so to speak. Now, with the 7th generation at hand, we begged the question, does this once again retain “benchmark” status? We had a week with the new Golf to find out…
We were given a 1.4TSI DSG for our one week test period, in light Tungsten Silver metallic paint. Now bear in mind we recently had the Audi A3 1.4TFSI, same chassis, same engine, both under the VW umbrella, so would this be the same car in a different suit? Right from the onset, the answer was no. Although the MQB chassis and the engine are shared, both are very different cars. The 1st realisation of this came when looking at the spec sheet. Our Golf 7 came kitted with light assist, leather seats, panoramic sunroof, composition media radio, and an iPod connector, not to mention the DSG gearbox, and the price tallied at R309,500.00 a measly 14-thousand more than the Audi A3 which was barely kitted out at all, had fabric seats, and came with a manual gearbox.
The exterior of the Golf 7 is simple yet effective, a small departure from the Golf 6, looking much like a lovechild between numbers 4 and 6. But inside, it’s a different story altogether. Where the A3 was all “Starship Enterprise” with pop up screens and clean façade, the Golf is a little more cluttered, not in a bad way. The console design flows into the instrument cluster, with proper buttons around a touch screen multimedia setup. The touch screen itself is rather intuitive, coming to life as you bring your hand near to it. To make it even sweeter, the setup is simple; the lack of funny knobs and dials works as a huge pro, and everything is easy to use and operate, even whilst driving, with eyes on the road. The interior is practical too, with enough room fore and aft to pack the hatchback with 5 adults and a load of luggage/shopping/whatever else you could need it for.
The everyday practicality of the 7 is fantastic, right down to the fuel consumption, a definite pro considering the 83c fuel hike we face next week. It was so efficient, in fact, that we recorded consumption figures of 6.3l/100km, whilst driving normally, no ‘special economy run’ driving. Equipped with start/stop technology, which works surprisingly well, this wasn’t exactly a huge surprise though. The manner in which it achieved those figures without any specific attempt at efficiency was, though.
Powered by a 1.4TSI engine with outputs of 90kW and 200Nm, the Golf was able to reach the claimed 0-100km/h sprint time of 9.3 and strive on to a top speed of 203km/h. The 7-speed DSG gearbox is a fantastic aid in these figures, prompting lightning-quick gearshifts with smooth power transfer across gears. However the TSI engine plays an even bigger role than the DSG, as the torque is readily available with no turbo-lag to speak of whatsoever. The power doesn’t die off at higher revs either, but maintains a strong pull all the way past 6000rpm. In tandem, the DSG and TSI engine work as the perfect pair, providing power, efficiency, and smoothness of the highest level.
Whilst we criticised the Audi A3 for being rather placid and even sterile, despite the manual gearbox, it was much to our surprise that the 7-speed DSG gearbox in the Golf made the drive that much more pleasurable. There are obviously suspension and chassis tweaks between the two, but even in spite of this, the Golf was incredibly agile and fun to drive, with quick gearshifts (and paddles on the steering wheel for when we felt particularly sporty) and sharp turn-in from the electronically assisted power steering. The chassis and suspension were quite lively too, but simultaneously maintained composure and sure-footedness that inspired confidence in any conditions. Whether ambling around town or cruising on the highway, or even testing out just how fun 90kW could be, the Golf 7 absorbed blemishes in the road surface with eager aplomb, relaying enjoyable feedback to the driver without being too overbearing or uncomfortable.
Reflecting back over the 7 day trial period, it was hard to believe the humble beginnings from whence the Golf was born. 7 generations later, and VW have again set the goal posts ahead of the competition. The Golf 7 offers the premium class, performance, and feel of BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi, whilst offering a price-tag of the everyday hatchback. To say there is a better all round hatchback on the market today would be a lie, and for that reason the Golf 7 once again remains the benchmark. It wraps up style, fun, efficiency, affordability, and practicality all in one package, all while being the easiest car to drive around on a daily basis. We will no doubt see many, many Golf 7’s roaming around the streets of South Africa in the years to come, but why wouldn’t we? It’s the car for anyone, maybe even for everyone, it’s that good an all-rounder.
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90kW @ 5000RPM
200Nm @ 1400-4000RPM
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Front Wheel Drive
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Author: Roger Biermann