A FAIR WAY AHEAD

The pi­o­neer­ing hatch, Golf tops the leader­board

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page - IAIN CURRY BENZ C-CLASS.

You’re spoilt for qual­ity choice when look­ing for a late model used small car. Volk­swa­gen’s Golf, a Euro­pean stand­out, is the stal­wart of the seg­ment, hav­ing evolved over a 44year life­span into a su­perb all-rounder. The Mk7 model com­bines stylish de­sign, good equip­ment, ex­ten­sive safety gear, prac­ti­cal­ity and econ­omy. It was built on an en­tirely new mod­u­lar plat­form and had petrol and diesel en­gine op­tions, all tur­bos.

Its cabin fit and fin­ish earn praise as a notch above key ri­vals — but this Golf scores al­most univer­sal praise for its drive ex­pe­ri­ence. In lay­man’s terms, it sim­ply han­dles and goes very well in­deed.

In this series, no more than six years old, the choices are five-door hatch­back, wagon or All­track off-road wagon. A cabri­o­let sold un­til 2015 was based on the pre­vi­ous Mk6 plat­form. We’ll over­look the hot Golf GTI and R ver­sions as these are for very dif­fer­ent buyer types.

Among the short­com­ings are VW’s three­year war­ranty — far less than Hyundai’s or Kia’s for ex­am­ple — and capped price ser­vic­ing, which is dearer than the likes of Toy­ota. VW’s petrol en­gines also re­quire pricier 95 RON fuel.

Au­to­mat­ics in this series are dual-clutch jobs, or DSG in VW’s par­lance. There are sev­en­speed au­tos in petrol cars and six-speed­ers in diesels.

The seven-speed auto was be­set with prob­lems in the pre­vi­ous Golf, lead­ing to clutch and gear­box mal­adies and fail­ures and cul­mi­nat­ing in a re­call for Mk6s built up to Septem­ber 2011.

The Re­vised Ver­sion in Mk7s has proved far more re­li­able but some own­ers have re­ported prob­lems in­clud­ing shud­der­ing and jerk­ing, some need­ing clutches re­placed.

A vo­cal mi­nor­ity of Mk7 own­ers pour scorn on the DSG but there are huge num­bers who love their VWs.

Turbo diesels didn’t sell in big num­bers but are worth seek­ing out if you travel longer dis­tances. These weren’t in­volved in the Diesel­gate scan­dal.

The nam­ing con­ven­tion is sim­ple to fol­low. TSI means turbo petrol and TDI turbo diesel; the ac­com­pa­ny­ing num­ber (say, 90TSI) sig­ni­fies the en­gine out­put in kilo­watts; grades are base Trend­line and ex­tra kit­ted Com­fort­line and High­line.

Cheap­est at launch was the 90TSI with sixspeed man­ual or op­tional auto, the same set-up in Com­fort­line trim adding a few thou­sand dol­lars. Top­ping out were the fea­ture-packed 103TSI High­line or turbo diesel 110TDI High­line, both auto only.

Trend­line fea­tures in­cluded seven airbags, cruise con­trol, elec­tric hand­brake, Blue­tooth and 5.8-inch screen, plus rather pro­saic 15-inch steel wheels.

Com­fort­lines got 16-inch al­loys, dual-zone cli­mate con­trol, auto wipers, park­ing sen­sors and re­vers­ing cam­era. High­lines had 17-inch al­loys, Al­can­tara trim and sat­nav.

Ex­tra-cost op­tions in­cluded Vi­enna leather, bi-xenon head­lights and panoramic sun­roof in the High­line, which along with the Com­fort­line could add a driver as­sis­tance pack in­clud­ing adap­tive cruise con­trol and city emer­gency brak­ing.

The auto-only Golf Wagon launched in Fe­bru­ary 2014, pre­sented in the same three grades (with al­loy wheels on the Trend­line) and claim­ing a mighty 1620L of cargo space with seats folded.

For some­thing a bit dif­fer­ent, the ver­sa­tile Golf All­track wagon from Septem­ber, 2015, came with a new 1.8-litre 132kW petrol en­gine. It was clas­si­fied an SUV with its plas­tic cladding, 20mm higher ride and all-wheel drive.

Golf ’s spec­i­fi­ca­tion jumped with model year 2016. En­try point was the 92TSI with, in com­mon with the other grades, 6.5-inch touch­screen, re­verse cam­era and smart­phone con­nec­tiv­ity. High­lines added stan­dard Vi­enna leather and key­less en­try.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Find a good Golf and you’ll be re­warded with a bril­liant ev­ery­day car. Pri­ori­tise mod­els that have a full VW ser­vice his­tory to en­sure the re­quired soft­ware up­dates and re­call work were car­ried out.

To check on re­calls, view www.prod­uct­safety.gov.au/re­calls and check the VIN of any Golf you’re look­ing at.

The 90TSI and 92TSI should have am­ple per­for­mance for most users but, if you pre­fer more poke, tar­get the 103kW/110kW or diesel.

If con­sid­er­ing a High­line, check you can tol­er­ate the slightly harsher ride on big­ger wheels and lower-pro­file tyres.

The man­ual gear­box is a gem in these cars if you pre­fer to self-shift but au­tos ac­count for the vast ma­jor­ity in the clas­si­fieds.

Ask the seller whether there have been any prob­lems or work car­ried out on the DSG. Test it on a long drive in traf­fic, hills (up and down), high­way and low-speed ma­noeu­vres.

Ex­pect a touch of jerk­i­ness but noth­ing more. Any ugly vi­bra­tions, sounds or shud­der­ing? Walk away.

Con­sid­er­ing the cost of dual-clutch re­pairs or re­plac­ment, pay­ing a spe­cial­ist to check the health of one is a wise in­vest­ment.

A few own­ers have also grum­bled about the car’s in­fo­tain­ment screen, so check through menus and, on later cars, en­sure your smart­phone works with the Ap­ple CarPlay/ An­droid Auto.

IAIN SAYS

A quite bril­liant all-rounder, the Golf is the true bench­mark for a hatch and wagon — and there’s no dud in the range. TRANS­MIS­SION THIRST TELL US ABOUT YOUR

WRITE TO CARS@NEWS.COM.AU OR MO­TOR­ING, PO BOX 4245, SYD­NEY, 2010

Its three-year war­ranty means many in the clas­si­fieds will not be cov­ered, so in­vest in a spe­cial­ist me­chanic’s health check, es­pe­cially for au­tos. Get a good one and it’s a car to love.

OWNER SAYS

WIL­LIAM GALTON: I have a 2014 90TSI Com­fort­line auto. I’d tested the main ri­vals and af­ter five min­utes of driv­ing I knew the Golf was what I wanted. Great fun to drive, zippy turbo, re­spon­sive, ag­ile and it’s equally at home in the city, mo­tor­way and coun­try roads. I ap­pre­ci­ate the driver aids such as re­vers­ing cam­era, front and rear sen­sors, park view dig­i­tal dis­play and dip­ping mir­rors when re­vers­ing. No me­chan­i­cal is­sues, it drives as well as the day I picked it up and I haven’t found ser­vice costs ex­ces­sive.

USED CAR

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