An economic environmental crusader that doesn't sacrifice drivability.
- 2010 Volkswagen Golf 77TDI; 1.6-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-diesel; five-speed manual; five-door hatch - $28,690*
Options (As Fitted):
- Media Device Interface $270; Comfort Package $2,200
Words by Matt Brogan Photos by Brendan Nish
Take everything you've come to expect from Germany's favourite hatch - safety, quality, reliability and drivability - add Prius-like fuel economy, and what you've got is Volkswagen's most economic Golf to yet land on Australian shores.
The Volkswagen Golf 77TDI sits second from the bottom in the new Mark VI Golf range coming in just above the base model 90TSI petrol-powered variant in terms of price ($28,690 for the 77TDI and $25,990 for the 90TSI - manual variants). Best still this new, low capacity diesel offering delivers considerably better fuel economy returns than that of its petrol sibling without sacrificing any of the much needed torque often found lacking in frugal lower-end offerings.
At the heart of the equation is Volkswagen's frugal, yet capable, 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine - or TDI in Volkswagen speak. Utilising common rail, direct injection fuel technology - and of course a turbocharger - the Golf 77TDI delivers, as the name might suggest, 77kW of power at 4,400rpm as well as a sprightly 250Nm of torque.
What's great about this little unit, and an issue that fails many turbo-diesel offerings, is that the entire helping of torque is available just off idle, from 1,500rpm. What this translates to is negligible turbo lag and good strong pulling power that will see you on your way to the 100km/h mark in just under 12 seconds (11.6 seconds).
Mated in this instance to a slick-shifting manual gearbox, the Golf 77TDI is also available with a self-shifting DSG (automatic) transmission for those not fond of the three-pedal shuffle. But if you happen to be a fan of the stick-shift gearbox, Volkswagen's five-speed unit is lithe, well composed and offers a tactile yet light clutch that offers an engaging yet relaxed response.
As touched on a moment ago, and as you'd rightly expect from a low capacity, low output diesel, fuel economy is also a strong point for the Golf 77TDI. A week of combined 50:50 city and highway driving returning 5.1L/100km - and that's with the climate control on the entire time! The Golf 77TDI also has a CO2 emissions rating of 129 grams per kilometre.
Inside the cabin you could easily forget you're in a diesel-powered car with almost none of that maligned oiler rattle evident - even when idling. The ride is well composed and suitably quiet allowing time to enjoy the ample interior space and comfortable seating.
The Golf 77TDI offers seating for five, though realistically four adults are a comfortable fit. Up front Golf's manually adjusted cloth seats are well contoured to strike just the right balance of comfort and support, especially on longer highway trips, and are adjustable in all the usual directions. The steering column also offers tilt and reach adjustment.
An uncluttered and user-friendly array of well assembled switch gear and neatly presented instrumentation provide all the relevant information at a glance while also being simple to operate and comprehend. The white back-lighting of the dual-dial instrument panel is an especially classy touch at night.
Sitting at the bottom of the model range, the Golf 77TDI still boasts a decent level of standard equipment including air-conditioning, height-adjustable headlamps and a punchy single CD tuner.
An option pack, known as the 'Comfort Package', is also available (at an extra charge) that includes, among other items, 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control and dual-zone climate control (our test vehicle had this box ticked as did it a USB audio interface). Should you not wish to lash out the coin, a rather after-market looking 3.5mm audio socket is included as standard.
Up back, the large cargo compartment offers 350-litres of capacity with the seats and parcel shelf in place. Flip down the 60:40 rear seats, and un-clip the shelf, Golf 77TDI allows an impressive 1,305-litres of space. A space saver spare wheel can be located beneath the cargo compartment floor.
In terms of safety the Golf 77TDI earns a five-star ANCAP (and EuroNCAP) rating thanks to front, side, curtain and driver's knee airbags, ABS braking with electronic brake-force distribution and ESC with Traction Control. Hill Start Assist is also included as standard on manual models.
The Golf 77TDI is a really pleasant little car to drive and one that's very easy to live with - both on the eye and on the wallet. The performance is more than adequate given our draconian speed limits, and with such a high level of quality, safety and reliability built in, you could certainly do a lot worse than to test drive this one. Four-out-of-five.
CarAdvice Overall Rating: How does it Drive: How does it Look: How does it Go: