A car for the people

Volkswagen Golf TDI
Volkswagen Golf TDI

New car review

Volkswagen Golf 2.0 TDI 150

by Andy Enright

If you’re looking for an economical family hatch, start with the Volkswagen Golf 2.0 TDI and then consider other options. Chances are you’ll come back to this model.

With 150PS of grunt, 68.9mpg fuel economy and a chassis that delivers real fun, it’s about as good as hatchbacks get.

The TDI diesel and BlueMotion badges that adorn this car’s sharply chamfered rump might lull you into thinking you’re in for a soporific spell behind the wheel. That’s far from the case.

The common rail diesel sparks up with a bit of a chunter but settles down into a modest idle. It’s not so smooth that you’re going to forget which pump to pull up at but it’s far better than the agricultural old VW Pump-Duse diesel engines.

It’s more flexible too. Where the old 2.0 TDI engine was an exercise in turbo lag and then a shortlived lunge as it spooled up, this latest 150PS unit offers its peak torque of 320Nm between 1750 and 3000rpm.

It feels seriously muscular and it works really well with the DSG twin-clutch gearbox. Sport mode will plug you straight into the meat of the torque and will hold gears a little longer if you’re coming into a corner.

This Golf Mk 7 does corners really rather well. There’s just enough movement in the body to signal clearly where the limits of grip are, but punt the car into a well-sighted bend and it feels like a decent hot hatch in its grip, steering response and body control.

Its performance in a straight line is more warm than hot, making 62mph in 8.6 seconds on the way to a top speed of 134mph, but it’s a car that’s easy to flow along a decent road with.

You rarely feel the weight of the diesel engine in the nose and the expensive multi-link rear suspension means that there’s little bump and thump entering the cabin even on poorly-surfaced roads.

The clever MQB modular chassis not only offers Volkswagen the scope to run different models spun off it down the same production line, it also pares weight right back, such that this Golf Mk 7 rolls back the years.

In fact, it’s not significantly weightier than a Mk 4, despite boasting massively improved safety features and more interior equipment. It’s miles bigger inside too.

The driving position is almost unfeasibly adjustable and unlike many family hatches, you can get properly hunkered down in the car if required.

The sheer amount of steering wheel rake and reach means that both shorter and taller drivers will have little difficulty achieving a perfect seating position.

What more can you really ask for? With the Volkswagen Golf TDI 150, you get a car that’s well built, has a decent amount of zip to its engine, handles really well and costs less than an equivalent Focus or Astra to own.

By any measure, that would appear to be a slam dunk. At this point in the review, I normally balance things with a few caveats, explaining why the car is in fact, a few grades away from perfection.

With the Golf, however, I’m struggling. About the only real complaints are the high-ish asking price, the clunky satellite navigation and the cheap, non-damped tailgate release.

Other than that, it puts in a barnstormer of a performance. If you’re shopping for a family hatch, try this one first.

Try a few rivals afterwards but know that you’ve got a solid yardstick of excellence against which to gauge them. If you’re not back at the Volkswagen dealer looking for a dotted line to sign, I’d be very surprised indeed. Save yourself the legwork. Just buy a Golf.

FACTS AT A GLANCE

CAR: Volkswagen Golf 2.0 TDI 150

PRICES: £21,570 - £25,090

INSURANCE GROUP: 16

CO2 EMISSIONS: 106-131g/km

PERFORMANCE: 0-62mph 8.6s Top Speed 134 mph

FUEL CONSUMPTION: 68.9 mpg (combined)

STANDARD SAFETY FEATURES: Seven airbags, including a driver’s knee airbag, ABS with ESP, XDS electronic differential lock, ISOFIX

WILL IT FIT IN THE GARAGE? Length/Width/Height mm 4255/1799/1452