New twist as VW Golf adds this prac­ti­cal pack­age

Bath Chronicle - - ROAD TEST - By JON SMITH

IT’S a house­hold name. Maybe not as fre­quently used as Hoover or Sel­lop­tape, but not far be­hind. The Golf, in its var­i­ous man­i­fes­ta­tions, has been around for more than four decades now sweep­ing away the op­po­si­tion and clock­ing up 30 mil­lion sales world­wide. As one of the fore­run­ners among the then newly cre­ated hatch­back style it be­came the gold stan­dard in fam­ily mo­tor­ing for gen­er­a­tions while the sporty GTI ver­sions set the bar high in terms of han­dling dy­nam­ics. But po­si­tioned some­where be­tween the ex­plo­sive Golf R/GTI and the fru­gal fam­ily holdall there’s the GTD, a fuel-sip­ping prac­ti­cal pack­age which nev­er­the­less has the clout and han­dling to walk tall along­side gen­uine sports cars with much heftier price tags. The fact that it’s a diesel may not be flavour of the month right now, but it does en­dow it with oo­dles of torque that trans­lates into im­pres­sive high gear pick-up and very us­able ev­ery­day per­for­mance. This ac­ces­si­ble power is cou­pled – on this car – to a slick twin clutch au­to­matic trans­mis­sion pro­duc­ing light­ning changes and flat­ter­ing the VW’S power curve. All this is ac­com­plished in un­dra­matic fash­ion with just a gruff muf­fled growl from the two-litre oil burner and a con­trolled scrab­ble of the front tyres as they fight for grip. 62mph comes up in lit­tle more than seven sec­onds but more sig­nif­i­cant is the rapid burst of over­tak­ing power be­tween 50-70mph. Beefier brakes and low­ered sports sus­pen­sion plus trac­tion con­trol that op­er­ates on all four wheels com­plete the pic­ture. De­spite se­ri­ously low pro­file rub­ber, the ride is sup­ple but firm over most sur­faces with neg­li­gi­ble cor­ner­ing roll. Only our roads’ abun­dance of pot­holes man­age to dis­turb the gen­eral as­sur­ance and oc­ca­sion­ally jar its oc­cu­pants. It clings to the Tar­mac tena­ciously even though the steer­ing is some­what life­less and lack­ing in feel. There’s just a hint of steer­ing tug com­ing out of bends on full throt­tle. With its ma­cho styled bodykit of deep front spoiler, sideskirts and LED tail lights, the Mark 7 Golf looks the busi­ness. Equip­ment level is gen­er­ous with eight-inch touch­screen, dual zone cli­mate con­trol, heated seats and ac­tive in­for­ma­tion dis­play all stan­dard. Smart tar­tan cov­ered bucket seats in the front are a nod to GTI her­itage and look great. It’s roomier than pre­vi­ous Golfs but cabin space is less gen­er­ous than ei­ther Honda Civic or Skoda Oc­tavia. Legroom is fine for those in the front but less roomy for back seat oc­cu­pants while the reg­u­lar shaped 380 litre boot should be big enough for most fam­i­lies. Although the Golf GTD at a whisker un­der £30,000 isn’t ex­actly a bud­get pur­chase, run­ning cost are rea­son­able with miserly fuel con­sump­tion which av­er­aged 47mpg in my hands. Punt it along gen­tly, and closer 55mpg is a re­al­is­tic av­er­age. With its hand­somely solid looks, strong resid­u­als and gutsy per­for­mance along­side pound-stretch­ing econ­omy  the GTD proves it’s pos­si­ble to have best of most worlds.

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