The facelifted Volkswagen Golf (known as the 7.5) is now offered with a 1.0-litre 3-cylinder turbopetrol engine. How does this small-capacity engine perform in a compact hatchback package? And, could the 1.0 TSI Comfortline be all the Golf you'll ever need (if you don't want/can't afford a GTI)?
We like: Lively performance, excellent ride quality, interior build quality
We don’t like: Optional features are pricey, but this Golf is difficult to fault
- The cheaper option: Consider the Ford Focus 1.0T Trend, which produces peak outputs 92 kW and 170 Nm of torque. It’s an ageing product (we've already seen what its successor could look like) and it’s not as refined as the Golf. The derivative is competitively priced at R278 900, but its standard specification is only average.
- The other German: The Opel Astra 1.0T Enjoy is a solid offering with good standard specification including front and rear park distance control. Like the Golf, its 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder engine performs well with 77 kW and 170 Nm of torque. Pricing for the Astra 1.0T Enjoy starts at R295 800 – it represents good value at this price point.
- French flair: Meanwhile, the Renault Megane 84 kW Dynamique is priced at R292 900. It offers good standard specification and its naturally aspirated 1.6-litre engine offers up 84 kW and 156 Nm of torque. It’s not as premium, nor as refined, as the Golf, but considering the level of standard features on offer, it’s worth a test drive.
The Golf's exterior styling has been refined and although the changes are minimal, they are noticeable and pleasing to the eye.
Facts & figures
Price: R304 200 (July 2017)
Engine: 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder turbopetrol
Power: 81 kW
Torque: 200 Nm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Fuel Consumption (claimed): 4.8 L/100km
0-100 kph: 9.9 seconds
Top Speed: 196 kph
What is it?
The Volkswagen Golf 7.5 made landfall in South Africa earlier this year and while Golf fans and motoring media focused their attention on latest Golf GTI (and the subsequent arrival of the diesel-powered GTD and Golf R), few took notice of the new 1.0-litre turbopetrol engine on offer. Well, this quick review aims to shed some light on this new Golf offering.
The newcomer's 1.0-litre 3-cylinder turbopetrol engine is the same one found under the bonnet of the recently-tested Polo R-Line and now serves as the powerplant to the entry-level derivative of the updated Golf range, replacing the outgoing 1.2-litre 4-cylinder turbopetrol motor. This new Golf engine is offered with 3 trim options including Trendline, Comfortline and Comfortline R-Line, with all derivatives featuring a 6-speed manual transmission.
Performance and refinement
The performance of the Golf's 1.0-litre turbopetrol engine is to be commended. It's punchy and refined, while returning good fuel consumption figures.
Some buyers might scoff at the thought of a compact (family) hatchback powered by a 3-pot motor, but this engine delivers surprisingly willing performance. It musters 81 kW and 200 Nm of torque, which are more than useful outputs and, significantly, it's (one of, if not) the most refined 1.0-litre 3-cylinder engine(s) we have driven to date and that speaks volumes, as the similarly configured units from Ford and Opel are very good too. The motor is remarkably quiet at startup and only becomes marginally noisier as the revs climb.
A steady foot on the accelerator results in keen acceleration that may embarrass some larger engined-cars. This Golf 1.0TSI is no rocket ship, but it has more than enough shove for robot-to-robot shuffling and it’s equally capable on the highway where overtaking manoeuvres can be conducted comfortably.
The 6-speed manual transmission is smooth in operation and tractability in each gear is good, even in sixth. Overall, we think this 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder engine is a peach and despite its size, it punches well above its weight while also offering a dash of fun to make every drive an entertaining one.
On the flip side, In terms of fuel consumption, Volkswagen claims an average figure of 4.8 L/100 km. The lowest figure we managed was 6.7 L/100 km, which is still impressive.
Ride quality and handling
Ride quality is best-in-class and this Golf is equally capable of tackling corners with poise.
It’s no secret that the Golf offers the best ride quality in its segment (it’s but one reason why the Golf GTI DSG scooped the Premium Hatchback category twice in the Cars.co.za Consumer Awards — powered by WesBank) and this latest iteration is no different. Its ride quality is truly a cut above: it’s how a premium hatchback should ride, smooth, forgiving and supremely comfortable. Shod with 16-inch alloys as standard, the 1.0 TSI Comfortline's suspension isd delightfully pliant, yet that does not mean that the 7.5's cumbersome in the twisties... Allied with a direct, responsive steering with good feedback and positive feel, the Golf's blend of composure and confidence amounts to a near-perfect ride/handling balance.
Interior build quality and features
The VW Golf's interior design is well executed and it exudes a premium feel with quality fit and finish.
The good news doesn’t stop there, because the Golf arguably has the best-built interior in its segment too. Overall build quality is excellent and the interior design and tactile quality of the surfaces create a cabin that’s premium in look and feel while providing good levels of comfort for the driver and passengers. It goes without saying: the Golf is a quality product.
The highlight feature in this test unit is the new larger, optional 8-inch Composition Media touchscreen infotainment system (a 6.5-inch Colour Composition system is standard). It’s a slick unit that’s not only easy to use, but it goes a long way in lifting the premium-ness of the interior and in our opinion, is worth the additional spend (more on this below). It doesn’t offer navigation though, but does have Bluetooth functionality and devices are easily connected and a USB and auxiliary port are standard too.
Interior is on point in this 1.0 TSI Comfortline and the optional 8.0-inch Composition Media infotainment system is well worth the extra outlay.
Other notable standard features on this derivative include cruise control, multifunction steering wheel with rake- and reach adjustment, manual air conditioning, electrically adjustable and heated side mirrors, electric windows and an electric handbrake with hill hold assist.
Safety specification is comprehensive with 7 airbags, ABS with EBD, brake assist and stability control with traction control. ISOFIX child seat mounts are also standard.
At 380 litres, the luggage bay is big enough for most daily items and 60:40 folding seats adds more space and practicality.
Practicality is another strength of the Golf and with the luggage bay measuring a claimed 380 litres, you should have enough space for daily items such as shopping, travel bags and whatever else you need to cart around. The bay's floor also features a useful, protective grip mat and a full-size spare wheel is included.
The rear seatback folds flat in a 60:40 configuration to free up more space and occupants can store drinks in the bottle holders in the door mouldings or make use of the two cupholders in the rear central armrest and front centre console. Rear passenger space is adequate with sufficient leg-, head- and shoulder room. The driver also benefits from a height-adjustable seat.
The not so good
There are numerous options on offer, but they can be pricey, so pick your features carefully.
Although the Golf 1.0 TSI Comfortline is difficult to fault overall, we feel that Volkswagen could be more generous in terms of standard specification. Many useful features are offered as optional extras that hike up the overall price of the vehicle.
For example, the recommended 8-inch Composition Media infotainment system is priced at R4 450. If you want navigation and gesture control, you will have to upgrade to the Discover Pro system priced at R20 200. Don’t like those cloth seats? Leather upholstery is priced at R11 850. Climate control air conditioning will cost you R4 950.
We feel that front and rear park distance control should be standard, yet it costs R4 750 while the reverse-view camera is priced at R3 200. The options list is quite extensive and we advise that you choose your options carefully to avoid over capitalising on your purchase.
Price and warranty
This Volkswagen Golf 1.0 TSI Comfortline is priced from R304 200 and is sold with a 3-year/120 000 km warranty and a 5-year/90 000km service plan with service intervals set at 15 000km.
The Golf 1.0TSI Comfortline is worth considering if you want excellent ride comfort and refinement from your hatchback.
Unsurprisingly, the Golf remains an accomplished product and the 1.0 TSI Comfortline is a tempting proposition if you are looking for a refined, quality hatchback. It’s a strong performer and its ride quality is unmatched in this segment. It also happens to be quite practical as a city runabout and small families will appreciate its safety credentials and space offering.
Although this Golf 1.0 TSI Comfortline is more expensive than the equivalent Ford Focus and Opel Astra, we think it’s a superior product and should, therefore, be on your shopping list ... if not near the top of it. As long as you pick your options carefully, this Golf 1.0 TSI Comfortline won’t disappoint. Indeed, for many consumers this will be "all the Golf they'll ever need".