2013 VW Golf 1.2 TSI 105 S review

* New Golf 1.2 TSI driven in UK * 750 cheaper than 1.4 TSI * On sale now, priced from 17,295...

2013 VW Golf 1.2 TSI 105 S review

Our one criticism of the latest VW Golf is that it's a bit on the pricey side. There's no faulting the way it drives or how well equipped it is, but it does cost quite a bit more than its sister cars, the Seat Leon and Skoda Octavia, and undercuts the classier Audi A3 by just a couple of hundred pounds.

That makes this new 1.2 TSI version an interesting proposition. It costs 750 less than an equivalent 1.4 TSI (our current pick of the Golf range), and even though it's available only in entry-level S trim, you still get all the basics.

What's the 2013 VW Golf 1.2 TSI 105 S like to drive?
If you're thinking a 1.2-litre engine is more suited to a city runaround than family hatchback then you'll be pleasantly surprised. Thanks to turbocharging, it has a decent amount of low-down pull and revs smoothly beyond 5000rpm.

Only when you pull out to overtake at relatively high speeds will you wish for a bit more urgency.

Like all Golfs with less than 120bhp, the 1.2 TSI rides on a relatively unsophisticated rear suspension. However, although you hear bumps being dealt with more than you do in pricier versions, you barely feel them at all.

Our test car had the optional seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox, which shifts smoothly and generally chooses the right gear to maximise fuel efficiency. The six-speed manual is a better option, though mainly because it keeps the price down by 1415.

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

What's the 2013 VW Golf 1.2 TSI 105 S 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.

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 six-footers to travel in comfort and the 380-litre boot is one of the biggest in the class although a Skoda Octavia is definitely the way to go if load space is a priority.

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

S trim gets you the essentials, including air-conditioning, Bluetooth, electric front windows and remote central locking.

You don't get alloys (these cost 415) or a leather-trimmed multi-function steering wheel (a 400 option), but unlike some more powerful versions of the Golf which are available only in SE trim and above you aren't forced to pay for extras that you might not want, such as adaptive cruise control.

Should I buy one?
If you want five doors you'll be spending 17,950, whereas 100 less on a Seat Leon gets you a more powerful (138bhp) engine and lots more standard kit, including alloys, front foglights, cruise control, rear electric windows and a leather-trimmed steering wheel.

The Skoda Octavia also looks comparatively good value, because it's available with the same 103bhp 1.2 engine as the Golf for as little as 15,990.

True, these rivals aren't quite as good to drive as the VW and won't hold their value as well, but they're more than competitive in both respects.

That's why we reckon the 120bhp 1.4 TSI is still the pick of the Golf range. It might not be cheap, but it's even better to drive than the 1.2 and comes with loads of equipment, including some impressive safety aids, such as city emergency braking.

What Car? says...

Seat Leon
Skoda Octavia

Read the Volkswagen Golf review >>

Engine size 1.2 TSI
Price from 17,295
Power 103bhp
Torque 129lb ft
0-62mph 10.2 seconds
Top speed 119mph
Fuel economy 56.5mpg
CO2 114g/km

By Will Nightingale