The latest Volkswagen Golf 2.0 TDI is about as good as family hatches get. Andy Enright explains why.
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.
“Just buy a Golf.” It’s a bit of advice usually doled out by motoring journalists who don’t want to listen to another protracted ‘What car should I buy?’ diatribe over dinner. Yet there’s a reason for it. Volkswagen Golfs have tended to be so reliably excellent that it’s hard to go wrong following this line of reasoning. Yes, some have been a little dull, but in choosing Volkswagen’s hardy perennial, you always knew you weren’t going to be saddled with a lemon.
Still, times change and in order to make sure that I was still doing a sterling service for dinner party guests before ushering them onto more stimulating topics of conversation, I decided to get behind the wheel of what might be the pick of the Golf range, the 2.0-litre TDI 150.
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