Volkswagen Golf 1.6 TDI 105 Bluemotion Tech SE
Week ending August 28
Miles driven this week: 250
Read the full VW Golf review
This week, the Golf was called into play with the task of transporting myself and four other adults to and from our local proving ground at Chobham.
Despite the considerable extra weight of being five-up, the Golf coped and still had ample pulling power; one passenger declaring, 'It’s torquey enough', which it is on A-and-B roads. There were no complaints regarding rear head or legroom, either.
However, the lack of a sixth gear began to annoy me during a weekend stint to Coventry, because it meant the engine was revving too hard on the motorway.
This aside, the Volkswagen is a quality product, if a little bland at times. Still, I can't fault the way it goes about its business with such precision.
By Aaron Smith
Week ending: August 21
Miles driven this week: 110
We’ve had a Golf Estate in for testing this week. It’s exactly the same as my car except for the larger body, so I took it home one night for comparison.
The Estate weighs an extra 100kg more than the hatchback, but it didn’t actually feel any slower than my car in most situations, although the heavier car did take a little longer to wind up to speed on the motorway.
There were a few other differences, and they were just as subtle: the ride didn’t feel quite as cosseting as my car’s – with high-speed bumps not being damped quite as well – and the Estate’s engine noise seemed to be slightly more vocal.
Apart from its superior luggage-holding capacity, there was one area in which the Estate beat my car: sat-nav. It’s the same system as mine, but its software is newer – there was very little lag when it booted up. You have to wait a few seconds for mine to get ready, so I’m going to book it in for an update (my car has three years of updates thrown in).
By Rob Keenan
Week ending: August 14
Miles driven this week: 293
Confession time. I don’t check under the bonnet as often as I should. I’ve got so used to the Golf using hardly any oil that I’ve been rather lazy at checking the dipstick.
I popped the bonnet last weekend and - thankfully - there was enough oil showing, although it’s going to need a top-up in the next few weeks, so I’ll need to consult the manual to find the correct grade.
While the bonnet was up, I noticed that the paint in the engine bay and on the underside of the bonnet doesn’t get the full treatment afforded to the rest of the car. It’s matt and decidedly pinky red. You could almost call it shocking pink, because it stopped me in my tracks.
Look under the bonnet of any modern car and you'll find matt paint, but it really stands out on our Golf because the Tornado Red looks so different without its top layer.
By Rob Keenan
Week ending: August 7
Miles driven this week: 655
We’ve had a VW Golf R in the What Car? car park this week, so I nabbed it one evening. This one was equipped with a DSG automatic gearbox. I drove another R earlier in the year that had a manual ’box, and while that car was good fun, I enjoyed myself more in the DSG-equipped car.
Purists says that a manual gearbox is the better option for those who want a more involving driving experience, and I’ve more or less agreed with this mantra all my driving life. However, the Golf R’s DSG – complete with steering wheel-mounted paddles – is a sensation. Knock the gearlever to the left and you have full control of when it swaps ratios via those paddles.
The gearchanges are rapid and slick, and keep the revs up and the exhaust makes a delicious ‘braaap’ as the next gear is selected. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun with an automatic ’box.
My long-termer is a completely different kettle of fish, of course, but I love how precise its gearchanges are. Naturally, the fun factor is greatly diminished, but a good gearbox – even a five-speeder like mine – can make life so much more pleasurable.
By Rob Keenan