Gold medal Golf

VW’s hatch­back is Car of the Year

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

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

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