Game for Golf

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News - PAUL POT­TINGER CARS­GUIDE EDI­TOR paul.pot­tinger@cars­guide.com.au

READER An­drew phoned me with a ques­tion that was straight­for­ward enough:

‘‘ Would you rec­om­mend the Mark VII Golf?’’

The an­swer is sim­ple. It’s the ex­pla­na­tion that’s fraught.

Ear­lier this month 25,928 Volk­swa­gens, 6267 Audis and 1746 Sko­das built be­tween June 2008 and Septem­ber 2011 with the seven-speed dou­ble­clutch gear­box (DSG, known by the in­ter­nal code DQ200) were re­called.

As any Cars­guide reader knows, scarcely a week has passed in which we haven’t pub­lished in Ask Smithy or Let­ters to the Edi­tor a mis­sive from an owner who is deeply dis­grun­tled by the per­ceived poor per­for­mance of their car or lack of back-up.

The new Golf— which is to say the Mark VII— is not part of this re­call.

This car is, as we find our­selves say­ing nowa­days,

‘‘ all-new’’ as op­posed to the re­called model which is ba­si­cally an en­hance­ment of that which pre­ceded it, the 2004 vin­tage Mark V.

The Mark VII has won World Car of the Year, an in­sti­tu­tion whose in­ter­na­tional judg­ing panel this year in­cludes News Limited’s national mo­tor­ing edi­tor Joshua Dowling. And it gets a five-star rat­ing from Cars­guide chief re­porter Paul Gover. Such awards from him can be counted on the fin­gers of one hand with dig­its to spare.

Though the pub­lic stand­ing of DSG is slightly lower than Ju­lia Gil­lard’s, you could ar­gue that nei­ther is quite fair.

Much of the crit­i­cism sur­round­ing the for­mer at least is due to its driv­ing char­ac­ter rather than a fault per se— those re­called be­ing the glar­ing ex­cep­tions.

It has to be un­der­stood, yet sel­dom seems to be, that this trans­mis­sion is not the au­to­matic to which first-time Volk­swa­gen buy­ers are ac­cus­tomed. It’s es­sen­tially an au­to­mated man­ual with­out a clutch pedal, a so­phis­ti­cated dual-clutch de­vice that’s now in use in varous ver­sion by car­mak­ers as di­verse as Ford and Porsche.

With DSG, if you touch the brake pedal, the throt­tle cuts. Any over­lap, or in some cases merely a sharp jab of go pedal, and that much- com­mented

‘‘ hes­i­ta­tion’’ man­i­fests it­self. Left foot brak­ing, which we ad­vo­cate in au­tos, is not re­ally on. With prac­tice you drive around all this and can learn to love the smart throt­tle blip­ping down­shifts of DSG when teamed to one of VW’s di­rect in­jec­tion turbo en­gines.

But it hasn’t helped that one of th­ese seems not to have al­ways been mar­ried happily with the DSG7 – but the ‘‘ twin­charge’’ 1.4 is not to be found in the new Golf.

Since Jan­uary new VWs have been cov­ered by capped price ser­vic­ing for six years and, more re­cently, a five-year guar­an­tee on the DSG.

The new Golf is a good head above most of the small-car com­pe­ti­tion, head and shoul­ders above some. It brings val­ues of re­fine­ment not hith­erto seen in the seg­ment where most of us spend our own money.

Re­ceived wis­dom is that Golf re­sale val­ues will be hit. I’mnot so sure. Car mak­ers have come back strongly from much worse than this. It’s by no means a lay- down mis­ere but I’d be shocked if the new Golf was not in prox­im­ity to the podium when we come to judge Car of the Year.

VW Aus­tralia has been crit­i­cised for be­ing un­re­spon­sive. Now, un­der new chief John White it will be­come al­to­gether more re­spon­si­ble and re­cep­tive.

That’s good news for the peo­ple who buy cars on our ad­vice and those who ad­ver­tise their cars with us.

So, would I buy that new Golf? To­mor­row.

It’s a para­dox: We­may not be pop­u­lar with VW, but we’d still buy that­newGolf

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