Game for Golf
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