Our adoration for the quintessential classless car is no secret. Every Volkswagen Golf 7 we’ve tested (yes, even the firmly sprung 2,0 TDI that received some flack) has impressed immensely, from the lowly 1,2 TSI to the R model. However, it’s the model pictured above that should represent the sweet spot in the range.
“There is arguably no [car] in the market that comes close to offering as much in one complete package.” We made this statement after concluding testing of the Golf 1,4 TSI Comfortline in the March 2013 issue (in which it secured a whopping 85 points from a total of 100), and now I have a year in which to determine whether that bold statement was justified.
Our Pacific Blue long-termer differs in one crucial way from that original tester – instead of a sweet-shifting six-speed manual gearbox, it features VW’s DSG transmission. I’m not about to start whining – I reside in the traffic-congested Cape Town CBD and so far the self-shifter has performed flawlessly. Displaying less laggy tendencies at pull-away than other versions of the VW Group’s dual-clutch ‘boxes we’ve tried, it melds seamlessly with the cultured (and surprisingly punchy) 90 kW/200 N.m 1,4-litre turbopetrol.
Options on the long-termer include, among others, an electrically released towbar (at R4 000, it represents fair value considering the neat installation), Vienna leather trim (R11 250), bi-xenon headlamps with high-beam assist (R12 200, all in) and an iPhone 5 cable (R2 000 … ouch). Including a few more extras, the total comes to R358 150 (up from R312 000), which is a fair bit of money when a standard Audi A3 Sportback 1,4T FSI S tronic can be had for R340k.
But then the Golf oozes premium sophistication. The doors close with a satisfying thud, handles and cubbies are heavily damped and the cabin controls work with well-oiled precision. Material quality is not quite up to the level of the A3’s, but that’s hardly a criticism when the Golf feels at least a match for the 1 Series and A-Class.
A few weeks after its arrival, the Golf faced its first big test – transporting four burly guys and a weekend’s luggage to a farm on Route 62. Comfort suspension settings and squishy tyre sidewalls meant it handled the final few kilometres of gravel road with aplomb. Rear occupant space also impressed, but the somewhat shallow luggage bay proved unable to consume all the necessary paraphernalia (i.e. wine).
But that’s a minor criticism. If the Golf continues this unassuming brilliance, it will be a year of extremely satisfying motoring.
Mileage on arrival: 1 287 km
Current mileage: 2 988 km
Average fuel consumption: 7,82 L/100 km
We like: ride, refinement, cabin quality
We don’t like: smallish boot, obtrusive stop/start system