9 / 10
2009 Volkswagen Golf Review & Road Test
New Golf hits the competition for six
– by Matt Brogan
It’s hard to believe the Golf was in need of an update. Already such a terrific little car with contemporary style, it hardly felt old.
After driving the latest version of Germany’s favourite mid-sized hatch this week, I think it’s fair to say that the all-new Golf is not only better than its predecessor, but that it also hits the competition for six.
The Golf Mark VI takes everything we’ve come to expect from Volkswagen and polishes off a few rough edges to bring the car in line with the brand’s new design direction – which is clearly evident in both the Scirocco-esque front end and Tiguan-ish tail.
The result is an attractive, well sorted and dynamically enjoyable vehicle that boasts exceptional fit and finish, a quiet, balanced ride, as well as that all important high level of safety.
With a 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine under the bonnet, the Golf is far more spirited than its 90kW output rating would have you believe, managing the 0-100km/h sprint in a touch under 10 seconds.
The six-speed manual gearbox too is an absolute delight; very smooth to operate with an excellent spread of ratios.
Plus, with 200Nm on hand from just 1500rpm, the Golf is an easier drive than most manuals in this class and seems to make shifting cogs a far less busy occupation than you would at first believe.
The clutch is light, but not devoid of feel, though I did find it presents a very late uptake point which isn’t exactly to my personal liking.
Despite this one small issue the Golf remains an extremely enjoyable drive with confident and balanced handling from the strut front, multi-link rear suspension arrangement and well weighted steering with just the right amount of feedback.
The ride too is very pleasant; settled and quiet, which is a very rare combination in cars south of the $30K price bracket.
In standard form (as tested) the Golf 90TSI offers: a single CD tuner; trip computer; flip key remote central locking; power windows and heated power mirrors; and air-conditioning, which is about what you’d expect for this kind of money.
But if you’re like me and need a little extra pampering, the Comfort Pack is probably the best value way to up-spec the base model, adding 15-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate, cruise control, MFD trip computer, and best of all a leather-trimmed steering wheel with audio controls – all for an additional $2200.
Staying inside you’ll find sensible utilisation of space for added storage, greater interior room and a plain yet logically formed decor which although a little dull, is certain not to age as readily as some of Golf’s more “funky” competitors.
Proportionally ample seating with comfortable cloth trimmed seats make longer trips a delight, while rear seating is roomy enough to comfortably seat three adults without a bother.
Inside the top-hinged hatch Golf offers an impressive 350 litres of cargo capacity with the seats and parcel shelf in place, though this can be expanded to a cavernous 1305 litres thanks to 60:40 split fold rear seats.
As we touched on earlier, safety is a well addressed concern in the new Golf with this base model featuring standard front, side, curtain and driver’s knee airbags; ESP with Traction Control; and four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, EBA and EBD.
So if you’re on a budget and find yourself shopping the mid-sized hatch market this is one car I’d strongly recommend taking for a test drive.
The driver in you will love the on-road athleticism on offer while your common sense side is certain to feel reassured after just one solid close of the door.
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