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.