Volkswagen’s sixth generation Golf arrived on South African shores a little over a month ago. SACarFan recently tested the new 1,4-litre TSI Comfortline model and discovered that building on the solid platform and success of the Golf V, VW have managed to take the Golf from good, to great.
Let’s be honest, the new Golf 6 isn’t going to turn any heads or elicite an approving smile from onlookers as you cruise past. The styling is somewhat bland and it’s not a particularly exciting car to look at when compared to competitors such as the upcoming Renault Megane or Opel Astra. The previous generation Golf 5 sported a welcome makeover from that of the 4th generation but the ’6′ is simply an evolution rather than a revolution. The new shoulder, or character line as VW calls it, which begins at the headlights, continues along the side of the car and tapers off into the rear lights, helps to define the look of the new Golf VI but still does not help it stand out. We like the new headlights and front grille – a’la Scirocco – for their rather elegant and purposeful pose. The colour coded bumpers and side mouldings are standard on the 1,4 TSI Comfortline and styling of the side mirrors is a somewhat refreshing addition to an otherwise yawn-producing design. The 16-inch Atlanta alloy’s fitted with 205/55 rubber, fill the arches adequately and add a touch of zest to the overall look.
We suppose it goes without saying but the new Comfortline model is indeed a comfortable place for passengers. Standard equipment includes electrically operated windows all round; armrests front and rear; height and reach adjustable steering wheel; and adjustable lumbar support to name a few. Our test car was fitted with optional leather sports seats; power sunroof; satellite navigation; and multifunction steering wheel, which you’d assume would leave us wanting for nothing. However, the one thing which we felt stood out like the proverbial sore thumb, was the lack of a simple storage compartment for bundling our wallets, keys and cellphones into.The most logical place for such a compartment would be within easy reach in front of the gear lever but this spot has been reserved for an ashtray and lighter. An insignificant point you may say, but an oversight which left us a little surprised.
On occasions where you’re carrying a bit more than just your personal belongings, you’ll be happy to know that the Golf Mk6 has more than enough space. Luggage capacity is a useful 350-litres and with the seats folded down in a 60/40 split, a cavernous 1 305-litres is available. Your rear passengers will be well catered for by the Golf 6, with ample leg and headroom for two adults. Safety is one of the areas in which the new Golf shines, boasting 9 air bags (even one for the driver’s knees); Isofix child seat preparation in the rear; side impact protection; anti-lock brakes; electronic brake force distribution and more. With all these features as standard across the new Golf 6 range, it’s easy to see why it has a best in class Euro NCAP rating of 5 stars.
The build quality of the fifth generation Golf was solid but with their latest incarnation Volkswagen have taken things a step further. For one, the windscreen has received a layer of damping film to reduce wind noise, along with new seals for the doors and side window guides. The styling of the side mirrors we mentioned earlier is not without purpose, their aerodynamic shape reduces wind noise and a subtle channel ensures water streams away from the car. The new Golf 6 exudes quality in every area and were it not for the VW badge in the centre of the steering wheel, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were surrounded by luxury usually reserved for ‘superior’ brands. Thankfully the interior styling is far more interesting than the exterior, with brushed alluminium surrounds on the gear lever, dash and door sills. The instruments are lit up with a red backlighting, which is striking and adds a sci-fi glow afterdark.
The new Golf is available with some trick gadgets. Our test car was fitted with a touch screen radio and 6-disc CD with satellite navigation, but most impressive was the Park Assist function. The system enables almost fully automatic reverse parallel parking. The driver need only operate the accelerator, brake and clutch while the Golf 6 steers into the premeasured parking space, controlled by sensors. Also available with the touch screen system is Rear Assist. A small video camera, hidden beneath the VW emblem on the tailgate, shows the driver what’s going on behind the car while reversing.
As with the Golf V, the new car provides a well balanced and comfortable driving experience. We immediately felt at home behind the controls – like slipping into your favourite pair of jeans. Cruising around town the car is supple and compliant, making for a relaxed drive without being soft, while on the open road it cruises comfortably and soaks up the bumps. Head for your favourite set of corners and the new Golf 6 won’t disappoint. The handling is predictable and unbiased towards either under- or oversteer. Feedback from the steering is adequate and, safety-wise, the electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) does a good job of keeping the car on your chosen line, should you ever need to slam on brakes mid-turn.
As the name may suggest, the Golf 6 1,4 TSI Comfortline features a 1,4-litre engine. But how do you know whether it’s the 90 kW single-charge (turbocharged) motor, or the 118 kW twin-charge (turbo- and supercharged) version?
The answer lies in the ‘TSI’ badge – the single-charge models have a red ‘I’ and the twin-charged models have a red ‘SI’.
The 1,4-litre turbocharged motor found in the Comfortline is a gem. It produces 90 kW at 5 000 rpm and an impressive 200 N.m of torque between 1 500 and 4 000 rpm. The torque generated by the turbo makes it an easy car to drive around town and progress is swift without having to keep the engine ‘on the boil’. The throttle is responsive and you’re rewarded with a sporty exhaust note when putting your foot down. Currently the new Golf is only available with a 6-speed manual gearbox, but one which is silky smooth and a joy to slip up and down the rev range with.
The 1,4-litre TSI Comfortline will launch from zero to 100 km/h in 9,5 seconds and has a top speed of 200 km/h. Truly impressive though is the claimed fuel consumption of just 6.2 l/100 km on the combined cycle, making it one of the most powerful and efficient engines available today.
- Top-class build quality – yes, it’s pricey but you certainly get what you pay for.
- Silky smooth 6-speed manual gearbox.
- Strong engine and fuel efficiency.
- Well balanced and comfortable ride.
We would like…
- Not much really, it ticks all the boxes and proves it with the title of World Car Of The Year 2009.
- Oh yes, that easy-access, on-hand storage compartment for the obligatory mobile phone and wallet.
|Base Price||R238 400|
|Price As Tested||R296 280|
|Warranty||3 year / 120 000km|
|Service Intervals||15 000km|
|Engine Capacity||1 391 cm³|
|No. Of Cylinders||4-cylinders, in-line|
|Power||90 kW @ 5 800rpm|
|Torque||200 Nm @ 1 500 – 4 000rpm|
|Acceleration||0-100 km/h in 9.5 seconds (claimed)|
|Top Speed||200 km/h (claimed)|
|Fuel Consumption||6.2 l/100km (claimed combined)|