2013 Volkswagen Golf 1.6 TDI review

  • First UK drive of entry-level diesel engine
  • 74.3mpg and 99g/km
  • On sale now, priced from £18,910
New VW Golf review
New VW Golf review
We’ve already driven several versions of the new Volkswagen Golf in the UK, and have been thoroughly impressed. Now, though, we’ve had the chance to test what’s expected to be the most popular version, the entry-level 1.6 diesel.

In the previous Golf, this engine was something of a weak point. The lean fuel consumption and low CO2 emissions looked very tempting on paper, but a shortage of low-down pull and disappointing refinement meant that the engine was far from our favourite.

What’s the 2013 Volkswagen Golf like to drive?
Like before, the engine delivers its peak pull at just 1500rpm. However, where the old car was desperately sluggish when you fell below that threshold, the new one has a good bit more oomph at low revs.

That means you’re less likely to get caught short when trundling along at low speeds.

The power delivery is consistent as the revs climb, too, and even when the engine is working hard, it stays fairly hushed. However, there’s still too much vibration to be felt through the steering wheel, pedals and gearlever.

It’s a shame, because otherwise the Golf is an extremely refined car.

Perhaps the biggest sticking point with this 1.6 TDI version, though, is that along with the 1.2 petrol engines, it rides on a less sophisticated rear suspension set-up than the rest of the Golf range.

New VW Golf review

This affects the ride quality slightly; you feel a fraction more patter on broken surfaces and there’s more of a crash over potholes.

That said, we are talking fractions. This is still a very comfortable car.

With decent body control, strong grip and consistently weighted steering, the Golf is great to drive in other respect, too.

What’s the 2013 Volkswagen Golf like inside?
The interior doesn’t have the outright wow-factor of an Audi A3's, but the quality of the materials and assembly is good enough to eclipse pretty much any other rival.

New VW Golf review

The dashboard is as easy to use as it is on the eye, thanks to a clear layout and an excellent touch-screen infotainment system that features logical menus, large icons and handy shortcut buttons.

The cabin is practical, too. There’s enough space for four adults to travel in comfort and the 380-litre boot is one of the biggest in the class.

The adjustable boot floor also allows you to reduce the load lip, and provides a flat load bay when the seats are folded.

New VW Golf review

Should I buy one?
We can understand why you’d want to. Not only is the Golf 1.6 TDI great to drive, but those tempting CO2 and fuel consumption figures are now better than ever.

All manual versions of the 1.6 TDI have official emissions of 99g/km, meaning super-low tax bills and free entry to the London Congestion Charge zone (the DSG semi-auto gearbox hikes this to 102g/km, so it sits one band higher for company car tax).

These numbers alone will undoubtedly make this the Golf of choice of many company car drivers, but that doesn’t make it our favourite. The 148bhp 2.0 diesel has only slightly higher CO2 emissions and fuel consumption (106g/km and 68.9mpg), and is also significantly stronger, quieter and smoother than the 1.6.

Meanwhile, low-mileage private buyers will be better off with the 120bhp 1.4 petrol, because it’s cheaper and more refined than either diesel engine.

What Car? says…

Read the full new VW Golf review >>

Read the Volkswagen Golf review for parents at Mumsnet Cars

Audi A3
Ford Focus

Engine size 1.6 TD
Price from £18,910
Power 103bhp
Torque 184lb ft
0-60mph 10.7sec
Top speed 119mph
Fuel economy 74.3mpg
CO2 g/km 99g/km

By Ivan Aistrop

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