Volkswagen Golf 1.6 TDI 105 Bluemotion Tech SE
Week ending March 28
Miles this week 398
Call me old fashioned, but I just don’t ‘get’ LED running lights. All new cars come with daytime running lights (DRLs) as standard nowadays. Some manufacturers fit halogen bulb DRLs to lower and middling-trim models – such as my SE Golf – and reserve LEDs for flagship models (the GTI and R, for example).
You’ll often see LED DRLs listed in the marketing blurb. I guess car makers want us to think we’re getting something special for spending more money, but I remain unimpressed. My previous car – a Honda Civic – had LEDs that were embarrassingly bright, and I once drove off in Euan Doig’s Ford Fiesta ST-2 at night, trying to work out why the main beam wasn’t staying on only to find that just the LED DRLs were illuminating the road (my fault for expecting it to have automatic headlights).
I’ve seen quite a few people doing the same thing at night and I suspect that number’s going to grow.
So, dull they may be, but I’m perfectly happy with my Golf’s halogen DRLs.
By Rob Keenan
Week ending March 21
Miles this week 172
Until this week, my only experience of VW Golfs was the Mk3 Golf I learnt to drive in, which was – until very recently – our main family car. So I thought that getting into our long term Mk7 would probably be like putting on an old cardigan or a favourite pair of slippers – and I was right.
It had the same solid, sturdy feel, with comfy seats and an unfussy interior. The dash felt a little high tech for my needs, although I made full use of the sat-nav and iPod connection on a trip to the seaside with the kids. The parking sensors came in pretty handy when trying to park in a tight spot by the beach, too.
All the controls were where I’d want them, and although I've been used to a higher driving position in the Suzuki S-Cross for the past few months, the all-round visibility for driver and passengers is great.
The Golf is much quieter on the motorway than the Suzuki, though, not to mention more economical. There was plenty of room in the boot for all the usual family day trip paraphernalia, although I think it might have struggled with luggage for a week's holiday.
Nevertheless, I think it would serve us well as a family car, and I'm sure I’ll get another chance to test that theory during the three years it's on our long-term fleet.
By Michele Hall
Week ending 13 March
Miles this week 105
With our 1.6 TDI Volkswagen Golf on test for three years, I suspect that there will be no shortage of opportunities to get behind the wheel, but last weekend was my first chance to see what our long-term test car is like. It’s a Golf so, as expected, there is very little to fault. The ride quality is excellent, it feels very nicely nailed together and the styling is discrete to the point of invisibility. If you’re not fussed about cars but want a great family hatch, the Golf is the one to buy. It delivers on every level.
There is a problem, though. I do like cars, and on that basis I’m not in love with the Golf. It’s just not interesting enough. It may sound ridiculous to deride a car for delivering so completely on all the key requirements of the segment, but the dour interior and ultra-safe styling really don’t endear me to the class leader at all.
Spending £20k-odd of Golf money myself, I’d give the Seat Leon or the Skoda Octavia a look-in.
In the case of the Spaniard, it’s a rarer sight, less conservatively styled and cheaper to buy, whereas taking my money to the Skoda showroom would get me the 148bhp Octavia diesel for the same money and acres of extra space, albeit at the expense of a little interior finesse.
I doubt very much whether this view will be shared by my What Car? colleagues, but after my first, albeit limited, exposure I’m not as impressed as most. That said, with two years and nine months left on the fleet, there will be plenty more chances for it to impress.
Week ending March 7
Driven this week 170 miles
I feel like I'm becoming something of an expert on small diesel engines, specifically 1.6-litre diesels. My previous long-termer, the Honda Civic, had one, the Golf has one and this week I've driven two Seats with 1.6 diesels - an Altea MPV and an Ibiza supermini.
On the surface, the Volkswagen Group cars seem to share the same engine and five-speed manual gearbox. All three have the same 1598cc cubic capacity, 103bhp and 184lb ft of torque, but I'd hesitate to say they are mechanically identical.
One thing's for sure. They certainly don't share the same level of refinement. A couple of colleagues have criticised the Golf's engine noise on the motorway (when you're cruising in top gear above 2000rpm). They're right. It is a tad vocal. However, I was surprised by how noisy the Altea's engine is throughout the rev range. Fortunately, few vibrations make their way into the cabin via the pedals or gearlever.
The same can't be said of the Ibiza's engine refinement. It's truly agricultural. A genuine horror story, in fact. On my way into work on Friday morning I rounded a bend to find a queue of people at a bus stop with their hands held out, expecting to see the 281 to Richmond. You also get plenty of engine tremble through the controls.
The moral of the story? Never assume that ostensibly the same engine is going to have the same characteristics when it's installed in different cars. Always take them for a test drive - and prepare to be gobsmacked.
By Rob Keenan