Priced from £17,765 Release date Now
The cheapest version of anything is rarely the best, is it? A 30p sliced white loaf from the supermarket doesn’t taste quite the same as an artisan sourdough bloomer, and a throwaway biro isn’t as satisfying to write with as a Montblanc.
So, tradition would suggest this entry-level Volkswagen Golf is probably best avoided. The £17,765 price tag is certainly tempting (£18,420 if you want five doors), but surely there must be some pretty major catches?
2017 VW Golf 1.0 TSI 85 on the road
Well, the most obvious drawback would appear to be power – or, rather, the lack of it. You see, this entry-level Golf makes do with a 1.0-litre engine that pumps out just 84bhp – the same as our favourite city car, the tiny Hyundai i10.
Unsurprisingly, performance isn’t exactly brisk. In fact, the Golf feels downright sluggish on faster A-roads and motorways, forcing you to thrash the engine if you want to stay in the fast lane.
Mind you, there’s enough low-rev pull to scoot around town without working the engine too hard. The engine is also really smooth and quiet; you’d never guess it was closely related to the one in VW’s cheapest model, the Up.
In other respects, the Golf 1.0 TSI 85 is nearly as brilliant to drive as versions at the posher end of the line-up. It steers sweetly and grips keenly, but isn’t quite as eager to change direction as the sportier models. You can blame the relatively small 15in wheels and high-walled tyres for that, although that combination does help deliver a wonderfully supple ride – no matter how beaten up the road surface is.
2017 VW Golf 1.0 TSI 85 interior
Choose the 1.0 TSI 85 engine and you’re forced to have entry-level S trim. That means you get rather flat front seats that don’t provide much in the way of lower back support, as opposed to the excellent ‘comfort’ seats that come as standard on next-rung-up SE trim.
As in every other Golf, most of the dashboard is soft to the touch and feels suitably well bolted together. The design is hardly exciting and the grey colour scheme is very, er, grey; but then isn’t simplicity supposed to be the ultimate in sophistication? And it certainly helps to make the Golf’s dashboard remarkably easy to use.
The fact that there’s no leather covering on the steering wheel or gearknob is disappointing, but can be corrected for £410. That price also adds buttons on the steering wheel, allowing you to control the stereo and trip computer while keeping your hands where they should be.
There are certainly more spacious alternatives available for the money (a Skoda Octavia has acres more rear leg room and a much bigger boot), but the Golf is hardly cramped, either. A couple of six-footers will be perfectly comfortable in the back and the boot is spacious enough for a big Christmas shop.
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