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By Tim Barnes-Clay, Motoring Journalist

Some cars are all wrong. They’re ugly, uncomfortable or just simply awful to drive.

The VW Golf isn’t one of these. It’s among the best. Seriously.

For anyone that’s been beamed down from Pluto, the VW Golf is a compact car produced by the German manufacturer Volkswagen since 1974, marketed worldwide across seven generations.

The Golf Mk7 uses the same platform as the third-generation Audi A3, SEAT León and Škoda Octavia. It was announced in Berlin in September 2012, before a public launch at the 2012 Paris Auto Show and won the Car of the Year Japan Award 2013-2014, the first time it was awarded to a European product.

The Golf is like a fine wine and only gets better with age. Sure, there are enthusiasts who appreciate the Mk1 and Mk2 models more than any other. I was ‘there’ once – owning two Mk2s. As much as I still appreciate them, needs change – and now there’s no way I’d trade the GT 1.4 TSI 150 PS DSG I had on test for a classic 1970s or 80s Golf.

So why is the current VW Golf so good? Well, it delivers precise handling with high levels of ride comfort and driving pleasure. Indeed, the Golf’s steering now offers more agility in dynamic driving situations, while ensuring high-speed stability, and easy manoeuvring in the city.

Also, the Golf is available with driver profile selection tech, which allows you to choose from four modes – Eco, Sport, Normal and Individual; and with a direct-shift gearbox (DSG) fitted, there’s a fifth option – Comfort. A DSG ‘box is great because it’s unlike a conventional automatic transmission. Twin electronically controlled shafts manage gear selection, always anticipating your next shift. This gives you fast, smooth gear changes and lively handling with unbroken acceleration.

Under- the-bonnet technology is superb. My test car had the TSI engine with active cylinder management, which involves the temporary shutoff of the second and third cylinders. This means the engine can reduce fuel consumption by over 0.5 litres per 100 kilometres. Even with two cylinders, the 1.4 TSI runs just as quietly and with low vibration as with four active combustion chambers.

Inside, the front seats go back quite a distance, benefitting taller drivers, like me.  Surprisingly, this doesn’t impact on those in the back much; rear legroom is good for a medium sized hatchback. There’s decent room for luggage, too, with a low sill to make loading effortless. 

In the cockpit, the centre console is angled towards the driver, giving you easier access to auxiliary controls. Gadgetry includes a touchscreen system as standard.  It operates with finger gestures that will be familiar if you’re a smartphone user.  Features also include DAB digital radio, auxiliary inputs (including USB), Bluetooth telephone preparation and access to vehicle trip information.

The latest Golf has a number of reassuring safety aids too. Standard is the multi-collision brake mechanism. This automatically halts the vehicle after a collision, to reduce kinetic energy significantly. There’s also a pre-crash system which detects the possibility of an accident. It pre-tensions seatbelts and closes the windows and sunroof, leaving just a small gap, to ensure the best possible protection from the airbags.

Now do you see why it’s one of the best motors on the market?

Fast facts

Max speed: 134 mph
0-62 mph: 8.2 secs
Combined mpg: 60.1
Engine: 1395 4 cylinder 16 valve turbo petrol
Max. power (bhp): 148
Max. torque (lb/ft): 184
CO2: 110 g/km
Price: £25,265

Pros and cons

Handling

Kit

Safety

Relatively expensive

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