Volkswagen Golf hatchback driving position
No matter what your shape or size, you should be able to find a comfortable driving position behind the wheel of a Golf. The driver’s seat slides back far enough to accommodate long legs, plus you get seat height and steering wheel adjustment (in and out, and up and down) on all trims. All models also get a front centre armrest, while only the entry-level S trim misses out on adjustable lumbar support. The fact that the pedals are neatly in line with the steering wheel also helps give a natural driving position.
Taller drivers may find the steering wheel blocks their view of the instrument dials, and the 'comfort' seats that feature on many trims don't provide a huge amount of shoulder support. However, the figure-hugging sports seats in sportier versions are both supportive and comfortable on longer jaunts.
Once you’re are sitting comfortably, you’ll notice that all the buttons and knobs on the dashboard are well positioned, including the simple air-con dials that make it easy to tweak the temperature on the move.
Volkswagen Golf hatchback visibility
Few cars in any class offer better all-round visibility than the Golf. The windows are large and deep, and the pillars relatively slim. Even the small front quarter light windows don’t obstruct your vision too much when pulling out of junctions.
Front and rear parking sensors are standard on SE trim and above, and optional on the cheapest S trim. You can add a reversing camera to make parking even easier, while the optional Park Assist system can practically do the job for you, steering the car into a space automatically while you simply control the car’s speed.
Volkswagen Golf hatchback infotainment
Every version, including the entry-level S trim, gets at least an 8.0in high-definition, glass-fronted colour touchscreen. Either side of it are touch-sensitive shortcut buttons so you can flit between the main function menus, but two dials: one for volume control and the other for scrolling through lists or zooming in and out of maps (with sat-nav fitted).
The menus are easy to figure out, so you won't need to resort to the handbook to connect your phone or set the radio station presets. The one annoying feature is the screen automatically brings up extra icons when it senses an approaching finger – this is rather distracting. The good news is that you can disable this and leave those icons permanently displayed .
True, rivals such as the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series have more intuitive rotary dial-controlled infotainment systems, which are less distracting to use on the move, but at least the Golf’s touchscreen is responsive, with well-sized icons. You can also accept an incoming phone call simply by pressing a clearly marked button on the steering wheel or dial a number using the voice control (optional on some trims).
Every version gets at least a DAB radio, Bluetooth and a USB socket, while the standard eight-speaker stereo produces crisp sounds and resists distortion well. SE trim adds Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink, which displays selected smartphone apps and lets you control them using the touchscreen. However, you'll need to upgrade to SE Navigation trim or above to get a built-in sat-nav.
An optional system, called Discover Navigation Pro, brings a larger 9.2in screen and includes gesture control, which allows you to scroll through menus and change radio stations or playlists using mid-air hand movements. This gimmick doesn't work very well, though, and the larger-screened system is expensive, so we wouldn't bother.
Volkswagen Golf hatchback build quality
The Golf’s interior is a cut above those of many family car rivals. True, it doesn’t feel as special inside as an A3 – the plastics in the lower reaches of the cabin are harder and the switches don’t operate with quite the same precision – but the materials in your eyeline look and feel expensive enough, with lots of tactile, soft-touch plastics that seem bolted together extremely solidly. It’s a much classier effort than a Ford Focus or Seat Leon.
Thankfully, things don’t deteriorate much in the back, where you’ll find similarly plush materials. Overall, interior quality isn't the Golf's strongest suit, but you certainly won't feel short-changed.