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.

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
  • Get to the point
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

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

    £13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

    £18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

    Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

    £20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power