Gold medal Golf
VW’s hatchback is Car of the Year
SEVEN of us put it in first place, two in second, one in third.
Volkswagen’s Mark VII Golf is exceptional, a car that in the form we chose to judge — the 90 TSI Comfortline with DSG transmission — brings to the price of $27,490 dimensions of refinement and all-round excellence that were the preserve of high end prestige cars. As Joshua Dowling puts it: “If Rolls-Royce made a hatchback, this would be it.”
Specificity is a hallmark of Carsguide’s Car of the Year, as is affordability. Both inform our credo: “Real cars driven on real roads for real people.”
We don’t select dozens of variants and give prizes to most of them. Nor do we twerk about on tracks and take heroic pictures of ourselves.
Carsguide selects entry-level or best-selling variants, with the exception this year of two diesels whose superiority to their cheaper petrol siblings demanded their inclusion. These are Kia’s Rondo SLi and the Mazda6 Touring Wagon. To give a gong to a whole range, as did a minor and idiosyncratic annual award last week, wants for rigour and responsibility.
It’s a hallmark of the Mark VII Golf, however, that we could have chosen any variant from entry to GTI and the result would have been no different. The base car is plainly superior to the small car pack — at least until the arrival of the new Mazda3 next year. At nearly $44,000 the top spec GTI is a bargain. Actually, make that “almost” any Golf.
This year we’ve further refined our relationship with the real world by selecting only automatics, as do the crushing majority of you.
VW’s recall earlier this year of some DSG cars, while embarrassing to the brand, is irrelevant to us. It applied to cars no more recent than 2011. This Golf is — to use subliterate auto world parlance — “all-new” or as near so as they get. Carsguide would not buy a used Golf of a previous generation. Seven judges would buy this Golf today.
Carsguide doesn’t judge on rumour or anecdote any more than we’d confuse a manual with a DSG. On the basis of last week’s judging and thousands of kilometres in various Golfs besides, this car is the best new model of 2013.
Belatedly VW is making the right noises about customer care. It sorely needs to. Capped price servicing is an important step. But bad reps linger and cliches die hard, as I was reminded last week by a reader who accused Carsguide of “irresponsibility” in its unstinting praise of the Mark VII Golf. He’ll always buy a Toyota because the “Japs are always more reliable”.
Toyota’s worldwide recall of nine million vehicles all of four years ago has not clouded this wisdom.
Volkswagen Golf: “If RollsRoyce made a hatchback, this would be it.” Picture: Jack Atley