The majority of car buyers have very little interest in the finer points of motoring. For them a car is a car, the dominant mass transport invention of the 20th century. However for a car buying novice, Volkswagen may well have created the only car one would ever need. The new 2013 Golf.
The 10 Minute Test Drive
This not so little hatch seeps quality from every one of its German pores. Take a seat and look around, near flawless fit and finish. Pleasant tactile surfaces envelope the occupants. It’s almost as if the interior has been carved and sculptured by the finest German car surgeon.
Everything is executed brilliantly and importantly it’s mostly all about the driver. Little things like the angled centre dash to the colour touch screen that senses an impending input.
Decorative carbon fibre inlays above the arm rests look superb. Most surfaces are either padded or covered in high quality soft touch plastics.
Some may find the cabin a little dark, there’s certainly a whirlpool of blacks and greys. But we found it modern, sleek and quite frankly suave.
The latest Golf is still visually just that. The flat roofline and traditionally thick C pillar remain. However its dimensions have noticeably increased; the front and rear end are now squarer and angular.
Then there’s the handling.
This would have to be the most sure-footed car EFTM has ever reviewed. If the need to jump in a car and travel from Sydney to Perth ever arose, I personally would choose the golf every time.
It lopes along country back roads with almost unbelievable finesse. For a short wheel based hatchback the Golf absorbs rubbish tarmac with remarkable ease. It’s steering is almost perfect, and balance through corners about as good as it gets.
On the freeway it’s the epitome of plushness. The sense of isolation from the outside world is hard to surpass.
Fire up the tiny 1.4 litre turbo and the platitudes continue. This is one swift unit, overtaking is never a death defying act and a nice little turbo whistle accompanies throttle inputs. The fact this little baby can hit freeway speeds within nine seconds is testament to the world class engineering up front.
Ins and outs
Our test model was equipped with the 103 TSI petrol unit. It’s good for 103kW / 250 Nm.
Then there’s the DSG transmission, seven gears flick back and forth within the blink of an eye.
Volkswagen has been on the receiving end of huge criticism surrounding the safety of the DSG transmission. Obviously we experienced no issues during testing, and going by all reports the problems have been resolved. It would be easy for us to suggest ignoring its dubious past, but we’re not buying one (even though we would). So you’ll need to do your research and form your own opinion.
From behind the flat bottomed steering wheel of the Highline model it’s a clinically executed affair. White lit instruments are simple but effective. Steering wheel mounted controls rotate through the various menus of the multi-function display, showing information such as driving data, navigation controls and other settings.
The 5.8 inch centre colour display and satellite navigation isn’t one of the flashiest units around but after some time you realise that again German functionality has brimmed to the surface. It senses your impending touch, bringing up menus before you even touch. Swiping through menus and pinch zooming on the satellite navigation is very tablet like.
White LED interior lighting also looks a treat.
A ‘Drivers Assistance’ package was fitted to our test model. This injects the latest tech such as ‘Adaptive Cruise Control’ and ‘Front Assist City Brake’. EFTM has experienced such features before, in the Golf they are probably the most brilliantly executed.
The increasingly common ‘Park Assist’ feature is also thrown in.
Another delight is the ‘Driving Profile Selection’. Eco, normal, sport and individual modes change engine responsiveness, steering feel and air conditioning efficiency. Again all pretty high end stuff.
The fuel saving stop / start engine feature is about all I can be critical of. It’s a rough, slow transition; even the headlamps dim briefly as the engine fires back to life.
Thankfully this annoyance can be switched off. We still managed 7.1 L / 100km.
Hey it’s German, it’s won World Car of The Year, and it’s a substantial step up from the hugely rewarding sixth generation model.
Oh and it’s one of the top selling models worldwide. It’s a no bag zone here, braggers need only apply.
The Lasting Impression
Volkswagens are renowned for their enduring quality; no doubt the latest Golf will offer the same assurances. With Volkswagen now jumping on the fixed price servicing fad, maintaining your investment is far cheaper than before.
The Hip Pocket
Our test model has a RRP of $31,990 but included Metallic Paint and the Driver Assistance Package which saw the price tag hit $33,790.
Across the range it’s possible to jump into a Golf as low as $21,490 (Golf 90TSI Manual) right up to $34,490 (110TDI Highline 6 Speed DSG).
The hip pocket starts to cop a hammering once expensive options like Metallic / Pearl effect paint, Driver assistance package, Panoramic glass sunroof, Bi-Xenon headlights / LED daytime driving lights and leather interior are packaged in.
EFTM Rubber Stamp
This was an easy one, the seventh generation 2013 Volkswagen Golf earns the EFTM Distinction Rubber Stamp – hands down