Our cars: VW Golf 1.6 TDI - May

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  • 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

  • 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

Read the full VW Golf review

Week ending May 30
Mileage 6950
Miles this week 550

Google’s self-driving cars have been in the news this week, following the announcement that the web search giant is to build its own vehicles.

No one knows how long it’ll be before we’ll be able to tell our cars to ‘make it so’ and ‘engage’ before we sit back and read the latest digital edition of What Car?, but this week I’ve been putting some of that advanced technology to the test in the Golf.

SE trim comes with adaptive cruise control (ACC) as standard. Once you’ve set your desired speed it employs radar to maintain a set distance to the car in front. It’ll decelerate and even brake to a standstill if required, while all you have to do is steer the car. Indeed, on my sojourn up the M3 one morning this week, I didn’t touch any of the pedals for the half hour I had ACC activated.

If I’m being honest, I am not a fan of ‘standard’ cruise control. There’s almost always too much traffic on the M3 to use it without having to interrupt and reset it constantly, and I didn’t hold out much hope for ACC – even though it’s designed to be operated on busy roads.

However, I didn’t hate ACC as much as I thought I would. The minimum gap it allows you to set to the car in front is small enough to deter traffic entering from other lanes (and then forcing the Golf to brake), yet is large enough for safe braking. When the system needed to slow the car it did so smoothly and without any jerkiness – mind you, the half-term traffic was behaving itself, so more testing will be required when normal service resumes next week.

My biggest bugbear with ACC is that, in some circumstances, it forces you to hog the same lane; if you’re in the outside lane, following a line of traffic at, say, 10mph below your set speed and pull into a traffic-free middle lane (as you should), the car will accelerate and undertake the cars you’ve been following. Which makes you look like a bit of a berk.

It’s going to take a little while to get used to letting the Golf do the braking for me, but it’s made me realise that self-driving cars will be here sooner than we think.

Rob Keenan
Rob.Keenan@whatcar.com


Week ending May 21

Mileage 6400
Miles this week 925

I had to get from London to Dundee this week, and I figured a Golf would be pretty much the ideal way to do it, so begged the keys from regular keeper Rob Keenan.

I still think I was right to choose a Golf – but perhaps not this Golf, because I was a bit disappointed by it overall.

I was hoping for something quiet and comfortable that wouldn’t drink much diesel, but it wasn’t. The 1.6 diesel engine is a raucous thing at low and medium speeds, and it makes a constant drone on the motorway. The fact it’s linked to a five-speed gearbox instead of a six-speeder could be something to do with this.

Indeed, my father has an 05-plate 102,000-mile Honda Accord, and the engine in this is far smoother and quieter than the one in our Golf.

The fairly small 50-litre fuel tank meant range wasn’t that great either. I’d covered 468 miles and the range-to-empty said I had only 65 to go, although at least it was relatively inexpensive to fill. 

Finally, the driver’s seat made my backside numb on both legs of the trip. I had to alternately sit bolt upright for a while, then resort to a teenager-style slouch simply to get some feeling back into it. 

The upsides were that the interior has plenty of space in it, and the ride was certainly comfortable when I picked up an injured relative from hospital.

Nevertheless, if I have to make the same trip in the future, I think I’ll try to borrow the keys to our long-term Nissan Qashqai instead.

By Euan Doig

Euan.Doig@whatcar.com

 

Volkswagen Golf 1.6 TDI 105 Bluemotion Tech SE

Read the full VW Golf review

Week ending May 15
Mileage 5475
Miles this week 355

I’ve been playing with the Golf’s tyre pressures this week, in an attempt to boost the car’s average fuel economy beyond 50mpg.

I’ve had a fair bit of experience of fiddling around with tyre pressures, when I changed a Mk1 Seat Leon’s wheels for a larger aftermarket set a few years ago, only to discover that fuel economy was suffering.

I tweaked the pressures most weekends, and found that pumping the tyres up to the recommended maximum doesn’t always give the best results. So I gradually let the air out until I got a more satisfying economy figure.

The ‘official’ tyre pressures for normal loads in the Golf are 32psi all round. For a full load of passengers and luggage it’s 35psi for the fronts and a considerably higher 41psi at the rear. So, as with the Leon, I’ve pumped the tyres up to the max, and will see how the car performs over the next 1000 miles or so.

I won’t have to wait long – colleague Euan Doig has borrowed it this week for a trip to Dundee.

By Rob Keenan
Rob.Keenan@whatcar.com

 

Read the full VW Golf review

Week ending May 8
Mileage 5120
Miles this week 195

I’ve already mentioned my car’s electronic parking brake in passing. All Golfs get one as standard and, as I’ve said before, it works very well – especially when you let auto hold do the applying and releasing for you.

Whenever I mention to friends that the Golf has one fitted, their first comment – without fail – is ‘Oooh, that’ll cost a lot to fix when it goes wrong’. Cynics, all of them.

I suppose they do have a point, though. Indeed, DJ Richard Hatch has been talking this week on BFBS radio about having to pay £400 to get his electronic brake repaired after it wouldn’t release (he didn’t say what the car was). What’s the worst that can happen to a regular handbrake? A snapped cable? A broken handle? I can’t imagine those faults costing anywhere near as much to fix.

I should reiterate, however, that my parking brake is in perfect working order, and I expect it to continue performing as intended over the remaining two-and-a-half years it’s with us for.

By Rob Keenan
Rob.Keenan@whatcar.com


Week ending May 1

Mileage 4925
Miles this week 410

Time for an update on our Golf’s fuel economy. It’s not good news, I’m afraid. I’m struggling to break the 50mpg barrier, while Barnaby Jones and Stephen Hopkins are consistently achieving more than that in their Skoda Octavia and Audi A3 Saloon, both with the more powerful 2.0-litre diesel engine.

Those cars get six-speed manual gearboxes, while my car has a five-speeder and revs quite highly in top gear on the motorway, which is where my Golf covers much of its miles.

So I’m going to try adjusting the tyre pressures to see if that’ll improve things. The pressures are currently set for a minimal load of occupants and luggage, so I’ll try putting it up to the maximum recommended limit. The ride quality is likely to firm up a little, but it’s so fantastically cosseting to start with I’m sure it’ll be more than bearable.

By Rob Keenan
Rob.Keenan@whatcar.com

Our cars: VW Golf 1.6 TDI - April

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