Volkswagen Golf 6 1,4 TSI Trendline (2011) Driving Impression

VW Golf 6

While it is usually the flagship models of the automotive world that grab the headlines and make the cover pages, it is quite often the case that the best example of a particular model range can be found among the cheaper versions. Does this hold true for the generally highly regarded Volkswagen Golf 6, however? After all, in the recent past entry level Golf variants have not exactly represented outstanding value…

At first glance the specification sheet of the “second-from-the-bottom” Golf 1,4 TSI Trendline doesn’t look particularly promising. There are cloth seats, manual rear window winders, no front foglamps and even black exterior door handles and mirror housings. These are nice-to- rather than must-haves, certainly, but the fact is that the competition generally does better. Instead of frills, however, Volkswagen’s product planners appear to have prioritised safety. The Volkswagen Golf 6 1,4 TSI Trendline features no fewer than seven airbags, disc brakes all-round, ABS with EBD, an electronic stability programme (ESP) and Isofix child seat mounting points at the rear.

Premium ambience in Volkswagen Golf 6

So while it is true that there are few surprises in terms of creature comforts, this is not to say the Golf’s cabin is bare-boned – far from it, in fact. This German marque just knows how to design an interior. It starts with generous rake and reach adjustment from the steering wheel, as well as height adjustment for the driver’s seat. The seats themselves are simply superb, with just enough side bolstering and cushions that are neither too soft, nor overly firm. Long-distance drives in the latest Volkswagen Golf 6 is superbly relaxing as a result.

It is on such longer drives that other traits of this particular model are highlighted, and they’re all positive. The refinement is impressive. The engine, a 90 kW turbocharged 1,4-litre, delivers its power smoothly and strongly from low down in the rev range, without making a big fuss in terms of noise. Yet it revs sweetly and easily all the way to the red line. The ride quality is almost certainly unmatched in this segment, even by the French. The Golf’s multi-link rear suspension plays a big role here, and so do the plump, high-profile tyres that are so often sneered at these days. At cruising speed the Volkswagen Golf 6 is simply impeccably refined, with low levels of wind, road and mechanical noise. In fact, it feels like a car from a premium segment.

Given the fact that the basics of what makes a car comfortable are certainly very much evident in this Golf, it therefore becomes understandable that Volkswagen has kept the interior specification rather basic. Remember, that multi-link suspension doesn’t come cheaply… Undoubtedly further adding to the cost of producing the Golf is the quality of the materials used in its cabin. Much of the facia features soft-touch plastics, and the satin-silver trim detailing looks convincing. Regularly touched surfaces have a quality feel to them and overall the cabin appears more upmarket than anything else in this segment. Quality costs money, and the Volkswagen Golf 6, even in Trendline form, comes across as a premium product.

Nevertheless, in addition to its superior quality, comfort and safety, the Golf Trendline still offers a radio/CD/MP3 system, manual air-conditioning, electric mirrors and power front windows, so there’s not much reason to complain. Besides, Volkswagen offers a long options list if you really must…

If there is one area in which the Volkswagen Golf 6 is bested by most of its rivals, it is in cabin space. Rear legroom is about average for this segment, but the boot is probably short of that marker, which is a pity given the Golf’s cruising abilities and subsequent appeal as a family car.

Around town

Thankfully, the Volkswagen Golf 6 isn’t a one-trick pony. It is a superb car around town as well, to a large degree because the engine and six-speed transmission work very well together. The gearing seems to complement the engine’s smooth and strong power delivery, making it seem almost more powerful than it is, but always refined. Furthermore, it has to be said that many cars get high-speed ride quality right, only to be bumpy at lower speeds. The Golf, however, is as impressive going slowly as it is going fast. The refinement is always there, which is quite an amazing feat for a near entry level C-segment hatchback.

But wait, it gets even better. If you’re expecting the Volkswagen Golf 6 Trendline to be a bit of a dullard when pressing on, you’d be wrong. Surprisingly this model is not averse to entertaining an enthusiastic driver with good steering, excellent body control and surprising grip. Yes, it is even fun to drive when the mood grabs you. A complete package then? You betcha!

Volkswagen Golf 6 - Verdict

The Volkswagen Golf 6 1,4 TSI Trendline is proof that you don’t need to break the bank to buy a classy, premium product that excels on all fronts. It may lack a few mod-cons, and yes, the boot could be bigger, but this is one of those rare cars that appear to be more than the sum of its parts. With all the fripperies of the higher-spec models stripped away, what is left is the core, the essence, of the Volkswagen Golf 6. And it is brilliant.

We like:

  • Cabin quality
  • Classy design
  • Refinement
  • Fuel economy
  • Resale value
We don’t like:
  • Small boot
  • A few missing creature comforts
  • Uhm…
Fast facts

Engine: 1,4-litre, four-cylinder, turbopetrol

Power: 90 kW @ 5 000 rpm

Torque: 200 N.m @ 1 500 rpm

Transmission: Six-speed manual

Wheels: 15-inch alloy

Top speed: 200 km/h

0-100 km/h: 9,5 seconds

Fuel economy: 6,2 litres/100 km

Source: www.um.co.za

Also consider:

  • Opel Astra 1,4T Enjoy: A really smart competitor, but it doesn’t really beat the Volkswagen Golf 6 in any specific area, except for claimed fuel consumption. More expensive than the Golf new, Opel’s traditionally steeper depreciation should see it becoming quite an attractive used buy, especially as it has a long warranty and service plan.
  • Ford Focus 1,8 Si: Not really a front runner in this segment, due to its hit-and-miss facia design and finish and comparatively high fuel consumption. It’s a nice car to drive, however, with an excellent balance of ride comfort and engaging dynamics.
  • Toyota Auris XR: A considerably better car than most think, with excellent refinement and a beautifully finished interior. Loaded with safety specification (7 airbags) and should be just about bullet-proof. Pity about the dowdy looks.

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