Our cars: Volkswagen Golf hello

  • Popular family hatchback joins What Car? fleet
  • VW Golf 1.6 TDI will be on our fleet for three years
  • Run by senior sub-editor Rob Keenan in first year
  • Our regular tyres will be swapped for winter rubber in the coming weeks

    Our regular tyres will be swapped for winter rubber in the coming weeks

  • City emergency braking uses radar beneath the numberplate to detect obstacles

    City emergency braking uses radar beneath the numberplate to detect obstacles

  • It's been quite a while since we last pressed this button

    It's been quite a while since we last pressed this button

  • Seatbelt buckle casing was easily fixed

    Seatbelt buckle casing was easily fixed

  • Our three-year test car feels as supremely competent as the VW Golfs that have gone before it

    Our three-year test car feels as supremely competent as the VW Golfs that have gone before it

  • Our Golf will cost £21.50 to enter the London Congestion Zone, if Boris's plans are implemented

    Our Golf will cost £21.50 to enter the London Congestion Zone, if Boris's plans are implemented

  • The sat-nav software needs an update, which should improve its response

    The sat-nav software needs an update, which should improve its response

  • Rob's attempt to boost fuel economy by pumping up the Golf's tyres was a success

    Rob's attempt to boost fuel economy by pumping up the Golf's tyres was a success

  • Golf sensors no longer switch on automatically - bliss!

    Golf sensors no longer switch on automatically - bliss!

  • USB socket is deeply set and therefore hard to reach

    USB socket is deeply set and therefore hard to reach

  • Driverless cars might be the future, but adaptive cruise control is here already

    Driverless cars might be the future, but adaptive cruise control is here already

  • Old Accord was smoother and quieter than our Golf

    Old Accord was smoother and quieter than our Golf

  • Every Golf comes with an electronic parking brake instead of a conventional handbrake

    Every Golf comes with an electronic parking brake instead of a conventional handbrake

  • The Golf S's plastic steering wheel doesn't get audio controls and there's no cruise control

    The Golf S's plastic steering wheel doesn't get audio controls and there's no cruise control

  • A terrific hatchback opening means the Golf's boot can swallow all manner of odd loads

    A terrific hatchback opening means the Golf's boot can swallow all manner of odd loads

  • Mum-of-two Michele thinks our Golf has the same solid, sturdy feel of her old Mk3 version

    Mum-of-two Michele thinks our Golf has the same solid, sturdy feel of her old Mk3 version

  • Sat-nav offers to find you a petrol station when fuel levels are low

    Sat-nav offers to find you a petrol station when fuel levels are low

  • Fuel economy has taken a hit since the running-in period

    Fuel economy has taken a hit since the running-in period

  • The traffic congestion warnings have to be taken with a hefty pinch of salt

    The traffic congestion warnings have to be taken with a hefty pinch of salt

  • Boot space with the seats up is a healthy 380 litres

    Boot space with the seats up is a healthy 380 litres

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The Volkswagen Golf 1.6 TDI is the latest car to join our long term test fleet, and it’s going to give us the most complete ownership experience we’ve ever had at What Car?. You see, it’s with us for a full three years, which means we’ll be judging it as a new car and a used car.

So why the Golf, and why this one in particular? Well, it’s a hugely popular family hatchback, both with private buyers and company car drivers, thanks in part to the kudos the VW badge brings and impressive build quality.

Our model of choice - the 1.6 TDI 105 Bluemotion Technology SE 5dr - gets extra Brownie points by being economical (with a True MPG of 54.5mpg) and reasonably clean (99g/km means annual tax is free in the first and subsequent years).

SE trim is also well equipped (highlights include front and rear electric windows, Bluetooth, air-con, eight-speaker DAB radio/CD player, six-inch colour touch-screen, adaptive cruise control, auto lights and wipers and a space-saver spare wheel).

That’s a decent kit count but, as you can appreciate, we wanted to add a few extras to help make several winters and summers pass more comfortably. Hence sat-nav with three years of updates (£750); a wireless Climate windscreen (£295) which speeds up defrosting and helps cool the cabin; the Winter pack (£375), which brings heated front seats, headlight washers and windscreen washers; the Mirror pack (£95) which allows the heated, electrically adjustable mirrors to be folded electrically and adds puddle lights; front and rear parking sensors (£455); and the essential floor mats (£80). We also opted for the Perth design of alloy wheel, which keeps the size at 16 inches and is a no cost option.

All in, our car comes in at just over £23k. Without these extras it costs £20,990, which is £1750 more than its key rival, the Skoda Octavia 1.6 TDI SE. We also can’t ignore the fact that the Octavia has just been crowned best family car in the What Car? Car of the Year Awards 2014.

The Golf certainly has its work cut out if it’s to impress us over the next three years. Will it prove a winner? Check our weekly updates log every Friday afternoon to find out.

Logbook
Volkswagen Golf
1.6 TDI 105 Bluemotion Technology SE 5dr

Buying information
List price £20,990
Target Price £19,194

Extras
Discover Navigation system (5.8-inch colour touchscreen, DAB digital radio/CD with eight speakers, SD card reader, aux-in and traffic sign display (£750); front and rear parking sensors (£455); Winter pack (heated front seats, headlight washers, heated windscreen washer jets and low washer fluid warning light) (£375); heated windscreen (£295); Mirror pack (remote electrically folding door mirrors with puddle lights and reverse-activated kerb-view adjustment on nearside mirror) (£95); carpet mats (£80); 16-inch Perth alloy wheels (£nco)

Running costs
Test fuel economy na
True MPG 54.5mpg
Official fuel economy 74.3mpg
CO2/tax liability 99g/km/14%
Contract hire £294
Cost per mile 43p
Insurance group 13
Typical quote £457

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