Overall this has been a fantastic car. Practical, fun and engaging to drive and pretty much trouble-free to own. I know others on the internet have not had such a good experience with this model but they are thankfully very much in the minority. (Remember – no one ever complains about how their car *doesn’t * have problems…)
We’ve driven the car in many conditions, from interstate road trips to mountainous back roads and inner-city peak traffic. It’s a joy to drive in almost any situation. The engine has power to burn, the DSG gearbox is silky smooth and you feel firmly planted to the road without feeling every little bump. The fuel economy is great. We average 7.3l/100km with stop-start suburban driving, a lead-foot at the wheel and a full load of toddler paraphernalia in the back (including toddler). On long country drives it’s down in the low 6’s exactly as advertised.
I say ‘almost’ any situation because it isn’t great in inner-city stop-start traffic. Because the engine has a lot of power and a lot of torque low in the rev range you rarely need to push it hard. In normal suburban driving, where traffic takes of gradually from the lights, you hardly need to touch the accelerator to keep up. This keeps the ride very smooth. Inner-city driving though is much more aggressive – lots hard acceleration at low speeds. The engine and transmission just aren’t optimised for this kind of driving so it’s hard to drive smoothly. There are after-market DSG tunes available that improve this behaviour but they’ll void your warranty.
The DSG transmission noticeably ‘learns’ your driving style, so it can take a little while to adjust if that style changes rapidly. After a long (very smooth) highway cruise it can be a bit juddery the next time you nip down to the shops.
In almost 4 years of ownership we’ve only had a single incident – the car went into ‘limp-home’ mode (thankfully very near home so there wasn’t far to limp). The roadside assist guys did a diagnostic scan, chuckled knowingly and reset the engine control computer warnings. We took it in to the service centre and they gave it the all clear and it’s run fine ever since. We’ve certainly never come close to needing a replacement engine or transmission as others have complained about.
The Golf is a very useful size car. Seats 4 adults comfortably even for long trips. Fold the back seats down and it fits a large bookcase. Yet it’s still compact enough to park easily and negotiate those ridiculously tight corners in shopping centre car parks. Having driven cars both smaller and larger I think the Golf (and other cars of similar size) have got the balance just right.
Servicing costs have been very reasonable, especially considering you only need to service every 12 months rather than every 6-9 with some other brand of vehicle.
Even after 4 years, at the end of the day I still want to get in this car and drive it. If you care about what you’re driving, you can’t ask for more than that.