Our cars: VW Golf 1.6 TDI - January

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  • 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

  • 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

  • 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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Volkswagen Golf 1.6 TDI 105 Bluemotion Tech SE

Week ending January 31
Mileage 1515
Driven this week 195 miles

Read the full VW Golf review

The Golf’s boot is a pretty good size when you compare it with the rest of the class (380 litres vs the Ford Focus’s 316 and the Vauxhall Astra’s 370). However, it wasn’t big enough to take the glass TV stand that was delivered to work this week – I had to fold the rear seats.

It’s a simple enough business; the release handles are on the chairs’ shoulders, and the backs flop onto the bases. You have to extend the head rests (or remove them altogether - a bit of a fiddly job because you need to prod buttons to release the arms) if you want the seat backs to sit flat, though. You can then raise the height of the boot floor to make the entire load space flat.

Anyway, the box fitted with just one of the seats down and didn’t shift around on the way home. Job done.

By Rob Keenan
Rob.Keenan@whatcar.com

Week ending January 24
Mileage 1320
Driven this week 285 miles

Read the full VW Golf review

I’ve driven two disparate cars this week, in addition to the Golf. The first was the Skoda Rapid Spaceback (a 1.6 TDI 90), the second was the new Mercedes S-Class (a V8-engined S500 L).

The Golf should have a lot more in common with the Rapid than the Merc, for obvious reasons. The VW and the Skoda share the same engine (although the Golf’s is tuned to a higher power output) and both have a five-speed gearbox. However, I was surprised to find that the Rapid felt torquier on the motorway – I expect that’ll change as the Golf’s engine loosens up.

In every other area, though, the VW is the better car. Granted, they’re not in the same class (the Octavia is Skoda’s closest competitor), but only £3k separates that Spaceback from our Golf, yet the latter is leagues ahead for ride quality, is nicer to drive, the cabin uses much plusher materials and the DAB radio sounds richer.

In fact, in terms of overall plushness, the VW feels a lot closer to the supremely comfortable S-Class than it does to the Rapid Spaceback. That’s an incredible achievement when you consider that the Merc costs a cool £88,130.

By Rob Keenan
Rob.Keenan@whatcar.com

Week ending January 17
Mileage 1035
Driven this week 635 miles

Read the full VW Golf review

Barely two weeks have elapsed since I took delivery of the Golf and I’ve already passed the 1000-mile running-in mark.

Most of those miles were covered on the M3 motorway, but not at a constant 70-ish miles per hour; it’s been the commuting week from hell, what with accidents galore and dreadful weather, so the diesel engine got a good (but gentle) workout, which should set it in good stead for the rest of its life.

It takes a few thousand miles for a new engine to bed in fully, and for fuel economy to improve, but I was impressed with what I got from the first full tank: 51.7mpg. That’s not far off our True MPG figure of 54.5 – I’m quietly confident we’ll be able to beat it, given more friendly traffic conditions.

By Rob Keenan
Rob.Keenan@whatcar.com

Week ending January 10
Mileage 400
Driven this week 0 miles

Read the full VW Golf review

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?.

It’s with us for a full three years, which means we’ll be judging it as a new car and a used car. Read the full introduction story.

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