Our cars: VW Golf 1.6 TDI - February

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  • The paint beneath the bonnet isn't as lustrous as that on the rest of the body

    The paint beneath the bonnet isn't as lustrous as that on the rest of the body

  • The Golf R's DSG is terrific, and our Golf's manual ’box isn't bad either

    The Golf R's DSG is terrific, and our Golf's manual ’box isn't bad either

  • 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

  • We wonder if most Golf buyers know which make of tyre their car is wearing

    We wonder if most Golf buyers know which make of tyre their car is wearing

  • 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

  • Fuel economy is disappointing so far - Rob's struggling to break the 50mpg barrier

    Fuel economy is disappointing so far - Rob's struggling to break the 50mpg barrier

  • 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

  • We're more than happy with our Golf's halogen daytime running lights

    We're more than happy with our Golf's halogen daytime running lights

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • Brushed aluminium? No, just very convincing plastic

    Brushed aluminium? No, just very convincing plastic

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Volkswagen Golf 1.6 TDI 105 Bluemotion Tech SE

Week ending February 28
Mileage 3175
Driven this week 225 miles

Read the full VW Golf review

Our VW Golf's sat-nav has a very handy feature that I could have done with on my previous long-termer, a Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC.

One of my first trips in the Honda was up to the Midlands for a Personal Shopper feature, and the car's computer suggested there was enough fuel in the tank to get to my destination.

There wasn't. I was in unknown territory and the Civic sat-nav's 'landmark icons', which were meant to show things such as petrol stations, weren't working (they never did). I managed to find somewhere to fill up in the nick of time, but it was a sweaty-palm experience.

When the Golf's fuel gauge drops into the red you get the usual warning light and a 'ping', but you also get a message on the touch-screen offering to take you to a nearby fuel station. Very neat.

I should point out that I don't make a habit of running a car on fumes, and I usually know where the next diesel pump is, but it's nice to have an extra bit of help when you're in unknown territory.

By Rob Keenan
Rob.Keenan@whatcar.com

Volkswagen Golf 1.6 TDI 105 Bluemotion Tech SE

Week ending February 21
Mileage 2950
Driven this week 650 miles

Read the full VW Golf review

Bad news. The Volkswagen Golf's fuel economy has taken a bit of a hit since I last reported on it. At just over 1000 miles, I got an average of 51.7mpg out of the first few tanks but it has since dropped to 48.2mpg.

It's not a total surprise. I was keeping the revs down for the first 1000 miles, as per the handbook's instructions, but opened the taps as soon as the engine was run in.

Most of my journeys have involved commutes up and down the M3 motorway, with the gearbox mostly in top (fifth) gear. It's a fairly tall gear, but obviously isn't tall enough - at 70mph the engine is at more than 2000rpm. My previous long-termer, and a rival to this Golf - a Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC - had a six-speed manual 'box. In the six months I ran it I averaged 57.6mpg, nearly 10mpg more than I'm getting at the moment - and my commute involved travelling on the same roads.

Slightly disappointing, then. Of course, if the proposed 60mph limit on the top end of the M3 goes ahead, I'd expect the economy to improve - and my commute time to lengthen.

By Rob Keenan
Rob.Keenan@whatcar.com

Week ending February 14
Mileage 2300
Driven this week 630 miles

Read the full VW Golf review

The catastrophic floods that have been affecting the UK in recent weeks have forced a lot more traffic off the local roads of south west London and on to the M3 and M25, and those of us commuting to the What Car? offices in Teddington have had the week from hell.

So I was initially delighted to find that the Golf's navigation system includes a traffic avoidance feature called dynamic route guidance. Simply programme your destination and the map will show if there's congestion on your route. If the system deems the delays to be too bad it will re-route you.

It's particularly good at receiving traffic information, but isn't very good at knowing when conditions have returned to normal. On several occasions this week it tried to take me off the motorway when the congestion had clearly vanished - I got my passenger to check the situation with Google Traffic on their smartphone.

On the morning that I did follow the sat-nav's advice - leaving the M3 at junction three after getting stuck in traffic - it sent me into a jam at Chobham and I got to work an hour late.

By Rob Keenan
Rob.Keenan@whatcar.com

Week ending February 7
Mileage 1670
Driven this week 155 miles

Read the full VW Golf review

A late run to Gatwick the other evening afforded me an opportunity to try our three-year Golf for the first time. I was glad to see that Rob has nailed the specification; it doesn't feel particularly luxurious, but our 1.6 TDI has everything you'd need, including a clear touch-screen display (featuring sat-nav) and excellent phone connectivity.

It's on sensible wheels, too, so my drive, around those awful concrete-paved southern stretches of the M25, felt perfectly comfortable. The 1.6 diesel motor is a bit audible if you work it hard (I fear I may have dented Rob's early fuel economy), but once you're up to a steady 70mph it just fades into the background.

Truth is, this car feels every bit the worthy successor to the great VW Golfs that have gone before. It's supremely competent, comfortable, efficient, practical family transport. Early days, I know, but I can see no reason why this car won't still be a popular office choice for long journeys in three years' time.

By John McIlroy
John.McIlroy@whatcar.com

Our cars: VW Golf 1.6 TDI - January

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