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2021 Volkswgen Golf review: High price equals top quality

2021 Volkswgen Golf review: High price equals top quality

2021 Volkswgen Golf review: High price equals top quality

The eight generation Volkswagen Golf has landed on local roads and Aussie customers might be in for a rude shock.

Volkswagen’s Golf has been the benchmark small hatchback for quite some time and its latest iteration proves just why it keeps rising to the top.

Here’s everything you need to know about the entry-level new VW Golf.

VALUE

Volkswagen’s eighth-generation Golf hatch kicks off at $29,350 plus on road costs for the six-speed manual and $31,950 for the eight-speed automatic, which we’re driving today.

Wow. Thirty-plus large for a base model automatic hatchback. Another case of a German car company on the gouge? That depends upon how you perceive value. If standard equipment is the key measure, then, yes, rivals such as the Mazda3 (from $26,590) and Toyota Corolla (from $25,395) offer comparable features for less money, or more luxe for the same.

However nothing else in the class drives with the same composure, comfort or refinement.

All-digital instruments and an 8.5-inch touchscreen infotainment with voice control are standard, but the base model misses out on wireless phone charging, wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity (there are two USB-C ports in the dash and two for the back seat) and navigation.

Three-zone airconditioning, with rear seat controls, is included, along with cloth upholstery, LED headlights and 16-inch alloys.

COMFORT

Golf’s high roof, squared off corners and big side windows make the cabin feel much more bright and spacious that the claustrophobic, coupe-style cocoon favoured by most rivals.

Lots of driving position adjustability and legroom, a supportive, manually-adjustable driver’s seat and a supple, quiet ride make the Golf a very comfortable place to be.

The all-touch/swipe infotainment control panel takes some learning. but it’s intuitive to use and voice control works well.

Audio quality is much better than usual for a base model, too. Back-seat space and comfort are generous for a hatch, as is boot space.

SAFETY

Golf has the highest safety specification in the class. It includes adaptive cruise, semi-autonomous lane centring and automatic braking when an obstacle is detected during low speed manoeuvres such as parking, or if you are about to turn across the path of an oncoming car.

DRIVING

The 110kW 1.4-litre turbopetrol/eight-speed auto is a much happier combination around town than the previous seven-speed dual-clutch auto. Gone is the hesitancy when moving off from rest and the occasional cantankerous behaviour in the lower gears. Automatic engine stop/start is now smooth and seamless. Improved reliability should be another benefit.

A small toggle replaces the gear lever.

With 250Nm of torque available over a broad range, Golf offers flexible, willing performance, pulling particularly strongly at low revs. Cruising is quiet, effortless and frugal, with the test car returning less than 5.0L/100km on the highway and averaging 6.4L/100km overall, on 95 premium.

A light, rigid body is underpinned by independent suspension all around and has been engineered for drivers to enjoy.

Even the base model is immediately and precisely responsive to your commands, beautifully balanced in corners and resolutely planted at speed on rough roads. You wouldn’t call it sporty, though, as the suspension allows some body roll and the steering, though light and accurate, lacks a little in feel, as does the brake pedal at low speed.

VERDICT 4/5

Pricey, but you get what you pay for. Golf has been the best hatch for a long time. It still is.

ALTERNATIVES

Ford Focus Active, from $30,990

Euro DNA and probably the closest in character to the Golf. 134kW/240Nm 1.5-litre turbo triple/eight-speed auto

Mazda3 G25 Evolve, from $31,190

Golf money gets you top-spec performance in the 3, with a 139kW/252Nm 2.5-litre four and six-speed auto.

Skoda Scala, from $28,990

A mix of Golf VII and VIII hardware in a big, bespoke body. Less safety kit though.

VOLKSWAGEN GOLF VITALS

Price: $31,950

Engine: 1.4-litre four cylinder turbocharged petrol, 110kW/240Nm

Warranty/servicing: 5 year/unlimited km, $2100 for 5 years

Safety: 8 airbags, auto emergency braking, lane centring, adaptive cruise, blind-spot monitoring, semi-automatic parking, rear cross-traffic alert

Thirst: 5.8L/100km

Cargo: 374L

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