I’ve had this baby for bang on two years now. Living in the city, I’ve just passed the 13,000km mark, so I can’t comment on longer-term reliability. What I can comment on is how bloody brilliant this thing has been.
Rationale for this model: I wanted a manual with adaptive cruise. Full stop. The manual Comfortline was deleted for the MY16 model, so that left me with only the Trendline that allowed this option (without stumping up for a GTi or R).
Of course, I had previously test-driven a 92TSi manual and immediately needed a MK7 Golf to replace my first-gen i30 diesel. I’d always wanted to step into a Golf after learning to drive in a 1979 MK1 diesel. It was time.
This model is mind-blowing for the money. It’s whisper quiet, soaks up every bump and pothole with pride, is practical (you can reach in through the boot and pop down the rear seats, mind = blown!) and of course, the power and handling.
- Apple CarPlay works extremely well for maps, text messages and phone calls. If you ever need Siri, hold down the phone button on the steering wheel (the screen will say “function not available” or something, but it works) and off you go. Any flaws with the system are purely Apple-related. Eg: if a destination is not understood, it’ll send me to the nearest cinema. Weird, but you can over-ride it via a keypad on the screen.
- Bluetooth is so easy to set up and use.
- Seats are extremely comfortable, though the centre console is a bit too wide where my left knee hangs out.
- Electric windows are auto-up and auto-down for every single window (Mike Stevens, I’m with you, this should be standard on every car).
- Electric windows are auto-up and auto-down when you hold down the lock or unlock button (this is such a fun feature to impress dates or friends or random passers-by, plus the obvious practicalities of not having to open the door to throw your shopping bags into the car).
- The door clunk, it never gets old.
- The steering wheel is so well designed, from the flat-bottomed leather trim wheel itself to the buttons. Just brilliant. Although, the leather scratches easily.
- But the cloth seats, they’re truly horrible. Why, oh why, VAG did you delete the manual Comfortline?
- By golly, the MK7 is a beautiful thing, especially in Pacific Blue and especially with the slightly understated 15-inch alloys on the 92TSi Trendline (though they look a bit garbage with the wheel covers of the base model and the ridiculous Cadiz wheels on the R).
- The hidden boot-release handle under the VW badge.
- Filling up, there’s a very handy hook to hang the fuel lid on (and on the point of filling up, the fuel gauge tells you which side to fill up, with a subtle arrow).
- Windscreen washing is an absolute pain with the set-up of the wipers.
- Bloody brake dust covers the front wheels!
- Lowest = 4.6L/100km
- Average around town = 6.5–7.0L/100km
Performance and handling:
- The 92TSi engine is a pearler, so deceiving!
- This thing pulls strongly from 1200rpm through to 6000rpm, what a beast!
- Gearbox is supple and smooth, with just the right level of notchiness, and just feels so darn lovely. The throws are short and the clutch is short; it’s just a winning combo around town to work through the power of the car. It’s definitely smile-inducing.
- This thing handles brilliantly. Through tight roundabouts it stays flat and confidently pulls through, just like a go-kart. What a treat! And through mountain roads, it just clings to the bitumen as you work those gears. What a delight, and for the money? Insanity.
- The only time this car has struggled is overtaking at 90km/h+ with passengers. This is when you have to work the gears, and dropping to fifth isn’t enough. You have to drop it to fourth or third and plan ahead. But when you get it right, this slight inconvenience just makes it all the more fun.
- There’s the occasional hesitation when in second gear, pulling out of an intersection. I’ve been caught a few times, the thing just does not go! A balancing of the clutch and accelerator and planning ahead means you can avoid this. It’s a minor quirk that the driver needs to learn about pretty quickly, but once you know about it and how to control it, you’ll never encounter it again. (I imagine it’s much worse in the DSG based on stories I hear.)
- The adaptive cruise is a game-changer, there is no going back. I was skeptical how this would operate in a manual, but it’s a delight. You can change gears, you can accelerate, and it will not cancel. If you accelerate, it slowly brings you back to the set speed when you finish. When changing gears, there’s a very small pause when the clutch is in, before it resumes almost instantly to the set speed. The only way to cancel is the brake (of course), or pressing the cancel button. You can change the distance between cars via a button on the steering wheel.
- Semi-autonomous parking, simply brilliant. Those super-tight spots are no longer a challenge, no matter your driving ability. Think you’re a master of reverse parallel parking? So did I. This thing is way better. Once you learn to trust it, of course.
- Electric park brake and hill-hold are fantastic, especially in the manual. Tap your foot on the brake when at traffic lights, the park brake is on and you can rest easy. Foot off brake, foot on accelerator, park brake off. Easy.
All in all, yes it’s a pretty high score, but the car really deserves it. I can’t comment on reliability given the mileage and age, but so far it’s faultless.
Would I buy another? In a second. Do I want to go and get in my car right now, despite not having anywhere I need to go? You bet I do.
Oh, and one more thing, my bike fits in the back (without taking the front wheel off).