First drive of the new, seventh-generation VW Golf in several trim levels and with four different engine types. The greatest Golf ever is priced from £15,824. This car £19,645

VW Golf SE 1.4-litre TSI 122 PS 6-speed manual test drive

Friday, 11 January 2013 12:30 PM

2013 VW Golf

The new VW Golf is probably the very best Golf they've ever made. An excellent all-rounder


With new car registration data for 2012 showing a pretty much even 50/50 split between petrol and diesel engines, it seems that UK drivers are more and more turning to diesel. But, for me, these new 1400cc TSI turbocharged petrol engines are the pick of the new Golf bunch.

This non-Bluemotion TSI – more on the Bluemotion petrol next – gets 120bhp and 148Nm of torque. The horsepower tops out at a quite fizzy 5,000rpm, while full torque arrives at an early 1,500rpm. And this early torque delivery makes for a silky smooth turbocharged petrol engine experience.

Smaller capacity petrol engines can suffer from a lack of internal inertia which makes them feel torque-light, especially when compared to the low-down-grunty turbodiesel motors. But VW have taken these new TSI motors to a new level of refinement and performance that left me regarding them as a personal favourite. Ok, if you’re going to do thousands of miles in your new Golf then perhaps it’s diesel for you, but an Average Joe on average miles that likes a little play at the weekend down his favourite lanes will enjoy these TSI motors.

Of course, the petrol motor is smoother and quieter than the diesel, and while in this car the 9.3 seconds to 62mph is just about quick enough, the longer rev-range and more appealing engine growl of the TSI makes for a higher-performance-feeling driving experience. The 126mph top speed is surely enough.

Again, we’ve got a succinct 6-speed manual gearbox here, and with no discernable turbo lag and a punchy torque curve, I really enjoyed my back lane blast in this Golf. Again, I covered about 20 miles through my back lane route, working engine, gearbox, chassis and brakes hard; at the end of it all seeing 37.8mpg on the dashboard readout. More than the diesels, this TSI encourages a bit of harder driving, and again, with new Golf’s overall chassis competence and road grip; there’s fun to be had in the TSI. Normal driving, however, should get you closer to the quoted 54.3mpg, and this car is rated at 120g/km of CO2.

Click for: VW Golf GT 1.4-litre TSI ACT 140 PS 6-speed manual test drive (£22,960)