Volkswagen Golf Hatchback (2013 -) Driving & Performance

Review by Simon McBride on
Last Updated: 31 Jul 2015
This is the seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf that follows the original Mk1 launched back in 1976. It doesn’t look a whole lot different from the current Golf but Volkswagen claims it is completely new.

4 out of 5


Depending on what your requirements are there are different levels of Volkswagen Golf performance according to the engine chosen. Six petrol engines and five diesel engines are available to order, as well as the all electric e-Golf.

Petrol Engines

The petrol engine range starts with the 1-litre TSI BlueMotion offering 113bhp, but despite having such a high output for its size, the focus is efficiency. VW claims 65.7mpg and CO2 emissions of just 99g/km for the three-cylinder motor. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, with the five-door version optionally available with the seven-speed DSG automatic.

Next up is a four-cylinder 1.2-litre TSI unit producing 83bhp, rising via a 1.2-litre TSI 103bhp and a 1.4-litre TSI 120bhp motor to the all-new 1.4-litre TSI 138bhp engine with Active Cylinder Technology.

This high tech set up deactivates the central two cylinders under light loads to maximise efficiency. It means this engine is capable of 58.9 mpg (combined cycle) and 112 g/km (when fitted with a seven-speed DSG gearbox), thanks to the ability to deactivate the central two cylinders under light loads.

The 138bhp 1.4-litre TSI engine is likely to be the best selling model in the UK and has more than enough oomph to suit your driving style. It can get from zero to 62mph in 8.4 seconds and has a top speed of 131mph when mated to either a six-speed manual or a DSG ‘box. Performance fans will be keen on the GTI, offering 217bhp or 227bhp with the optional performance pack. Both six-speed manual and DSG gearboxes are available.

Diesel engines

Five diesel engines are available, including the 1.6-litre TDI with 89bhp and 104bhp and a new 2.0-litre TDI 147bhp unit.

The 147bhp 2.0-litre engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox will complete the benchmark sprint in 8.6 seconds (8.6 seconds with a six-speed DSG ‘box) and has an achievable top speed of 134mph (131mph with a six-speed DSG ‘box).

Both feature the latest common rail diesel technology for maximum efficiency. All new Golf models – both diesel and petrol – come with a Stop/Start system as standard, along with battery regeneration.

The GTD uses a high-power 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine that produces an impressive 181bhp and 380Nm for startling performance. Sprinting from 0-62mph takes 7.5 seconds and the top speed it 142mph, with effortless performance available in every gear.

Championing the eco cause is the latest BlueMotion with a 108bhp version of the 1.6 TDI, longer gearing and improved aerodynamics, lowering fuel consumption and emissions to 88.3mpg and 85g/km CO2, respectively.

Electric and hybrid powertrains

Those seeking zero-emission motoring will welcome the fully-electric e-Golf, which offers seamless acceleration from its single-speed gearbox. Its top speed is limited to only 87mph, though combined with its 118-mile range it proves perfect for urban use.

Those who want to be green without sacrificing fun will find the plug-in hybrid Golf GTE of interest thanks to its 1.4-litre TSI engine and electric motor. It promises GTI style performance but with far more efficient running costs.

With a top speed of 135mph, the GTE can sprint to 62mph in 7.6 seconds, yet return a claimed 188mpg.

Choice of Gearboxes

Gearboxes are a mixture of five- and six-speed manuals, and six- and seven-speed DSG units, depending on the engines’ power and torque outputs plus whether choosing a five or three door model.

New driving modes

A driver profile system comes as standard from SE up and includes four modes – ECO, Sport, Normal and Individual (if you chose a DSG as an option then you also get a fifth mode ‘Comfort’). Each of these modes alters the engine mapping to increase or decrease the liveliness of the car.

Parkers recommends

The 1.4-litre TSi with the Active Cylinder Technology fitted with the six-speed manual means you get strong performance and good fuel consumption.

4.5 out of 5


The VW Golf has been on a serious diet and shed 100kg, which improves the car’s handling to make it more agile. This has been further improved as the Golf is wider at the front (13mm) and it is lower (28mm) to the ground when compared with the previous generation.

This helps improve stability as the new Golf has minimal body roll and is tons of fun on twisty single lane mountain roads. This seventh generation of the VW Golf is brilliant. The grip is phenomenal and it certainly sits at the top of the class. VW has made the Golf more driver friendly.

All models also come with XDS – a feature once reserved for the halo GTI model. In fast cornering the XDS system can detect slip at the front wheels and alters the amount of power to stop wheel spin. It also works in conjunction with the Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) which compensates for any understeer making handling more precise and neutral.

The Golf is now fitted with a variable ratio system that responds directly when driving and in town makes manoeuvring and parking easier by turning the wheels more for a given input at the steering wheel.

The different driver modes vary the weighting and while at slow speeds it feels a tad artificial it weights up nicely when driving at speed.