VW Golf 1.4-litre TSI ACT

Surprise, the Golf hits the fairway on every shot.

Price: £22,960
Engine capacity: 1.4-litre four cylinder petrol
Power Output (PS @ rpm): 140 @ 4,500-6,000
Top Speed (mph): 131
0-60 mph (seconds): 8.4
Fuel economy (mpg): 58.9
CO2 emissions (g/km): 112

Lots of Golfs live on my street, so when the chap from VW arrived with a brand new model to test, it wasn't going to be lonely. At first glance though, it's hard to see what's so new about it. Look more closely and you'll see the styling has been subtly tweaked and the Mk 7 is wider, lower to the ground and has a longer wheelbase to the model it replaces. Add to this a host of new kit, an entirely new front-end and a nifty selection of fuel-efficient engines, and the Golf is really rather new. It's just that its designers have gone to great lengths to hide all this and make it as Golf-like and ubiquitous as ever.

Ubiquity isn't a bad thing for the Golf though. Its sales have held up in the recession and it's retained just enough desirability to go with its reputation for German quality, reliability and safety. What's the latest one like then? Good. Very good. Like the last Golf it does everything you want, but it does it that little bit better. That means the ride is smooth, the cabin quiet, the interior well-constructed, and the handling and driving dynamics relaxed but enjoyable.

If the new Golf was a South Korean car, you might slam it for its lack of imagination. That's a fair point, but what's remarkable about the Golf isn't that it's the most exciting car to look at or that it goes like a rocket. What's remarkable is that it's just so good at doing everyday tasks over and over again. Down to the smallest detail, VW hasn't taken risks. It has just taken logic and testing to create something that works. In an age when we spend hours struggling to get Wi-Fi, it's genuinely refreshing for something just to work first time.

Of course, if pushed, I'd have to say I'm a little disappointed the interior isn't as swish as some of its rivals. There is logic to this though. The cabin, for example, is nice and tidy but pretty basic to look at. Whereas in its new challengers, such as the new Volvo V40, you'll find sharp digital displays throughout. I'm sure they'll last for years but will they continue to work after 300,000 miles?

Not that the new Golf isn't hi-tech where it counts. It has some toys you'd normally expect to find on a luxury saloon, including automatic cruise control and adaptive driver profiles modes. The latter lets you pick "eco", "normal", "sport" or "individual" modes. In eco mode the car becomes a real nag, constantly reminding you to watch your revs and change gear. If you pair up your mobile to the Bluetooth it even reminds you to take your phone with you when you switch off the engine. These constant reminders become a bore until you work out how to switch them off.

What's not nannying is my test model's 1.4-litre engine and its ability to switch off two of its four cylinders to save fuel when you are pootling along. It does this seamlessly and instantly re-engages the two dormant cylinders when you need more grunt. It results in fuel economy close to that of a diesel.

The glossy car magazines love to rate their "best" cars of the year. It's not something I really go for, but I'm coming round to the idea now I've driven the Golf. It's easy and pleasing to drive, comfortable to sit in and economical to run. What more do you want? I know it's only February but I say this is probably the best car I'm going to drive all year.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Travel
travel
Life and Style
The veteran poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof issues a stark challenge to emerging economies at the Melbourne HIV/Aids conference
health
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich talk Penguins of Madagascar at Comic-Con
comic-con 2014Cumberbatch fans banned from asking about Sherlock at Comic-Con
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
filmGuardians Of The Galaxy should have taken itself a bit more seriously, writes Geoffrey Macnab
News
Sir Chris Hoy won six Olympic golds - in which four events?
news
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    English Teacher

    £21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a dynamic En...

    SAP Data Migration Lead

    competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Experienced Lead SAP Data Manager Requir...

    Trainee Recruitment Consultants - Banking & Finance

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

    Graduate Recruitment Resourcers - Banking Technologies

    £18000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: Huxley Associates are looking...

    Day In a Page

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform