The phrase ‘good all-rounder’ could have been invented for the Volkswagen Golf. It drives well, holds its value, and is spacious and economical to run. It makes a decent towcar, too.

For its superior pull and economy, diesel power makes more sense than petrol when towing, so we’ve plumped for the 1.9-litre diesel in Match trim. This brings the promise of 56.5mpg (driving solo), so stops for fuel should be few and far between.

In other respects, the engine is the one slightly disappointing aspect of the Golf. Under hard acceleration it’s rather noisy; even at a steady cruise the drone from under the bonnet never disappears completely. It also runs a little short of puff when towing. At the MIRA test facility there’s a tight bend followed by a bridge over the test track. The strongest cars happily pulled up the slope to the bridge in second gear. The Golf struggled.

The hill start also proved a challenge, although the Golf fared better than many front-wheel-drive cars. The handbrake held the outfit on our 1-in-6 hill, and, with plenty of revs, the Golf cleared the hill. The VW was happier at higher speeds, pulling up to 60mph, even into a brisk headwind. Better still, the Golf was impressively stable, and proved to be one of the most capable cars through our lane-change manoeuvre.

A respectable score for practicality also contributes to the Golf’s fine showing. It can’t rival the Legacy Sports Tourer for luggage capacity, but 350 litres with the seats up is reasonable enough for a hatchback.

Category Winners
2019 Up to 1400kg

Škoda Octavia

Hatch 1.5 TSI 150PS SE L DSG

2019 1400-1549kg

Seat Ateca

2.0 TSI 190PS FR DSG

2019 1550-1699kg

Volkswagen Arteon

2.0 TDI 150PS Elegance DSG

2019 1700-1899kg

BMW 520d

Touring xDrive M Sport

2019 1900kg+

Land Rover Discovery

3.0 SDV6 HSE

2019 Best Budget 4x4

Dacia Duster

1.5 dCi Ambiance 4x4

2019 Best Plug-In Hybrid

Land Rover Range Rover Sport

P400e HSE Dynamic

2019 Best Ultralight Tow Car

Seat Arona

1.0 TSI 115 FR

2019 Fuel Economy Award

Ford Focus Estate

1.5 EcoBlue 120PS Titanium X

Previous Winners

BMW 520d

Touring xDrive M Sport


Land Rover Discovery

3.0 Td6 HSE*


Skoda Superb Hatch

2.0 TDI 150PS SE Business


Volkswagen Passat Estate

2.0 TDI BMT 150PS SE Business DSG


Nissan Qashqai

1.6 dCi (130PS) Stop/Start System Acenta Premium

Up to 1424kg

Skoda Octavia

2.0 TDI CR 150PS Elegance


Jaguar XF

2.2D Premium Luxury


Volkswagen Passat Estate

2.0 TDI 170 Bluemotion Sport


Land Rover Discovery 4

3.0 TDV6 XS


Volvo XC60

D5 SE Geartronic


Ford Mondeo Estate

2.0 TDCi Titanium auto


Volkswagen Passat Estate

2.0 TDI Sport 4Motion

ContinueWe use cookies to give you the best browsing experience and to provide you with relevant content and advertising.
By continuing to use our website you are accepting our use of cookies as described in our Cookie Policy.