VW Golf: No-nonsense machine

A surprise package

The sixth-generation Volkswagen Golf was introduced in 2009 and, like pretty much all the previous iterations, it has proved to be the benchmark in the small family hatchback class - really, only the Ford Focus gets close.

Last year VW introduced the 1.2 TSI - a turbocharged petrol variant delivering 103bhp that promises just under 50mpg and, as is the norm at Parkers, we had one in for a week-long test.

It was a real surprise, particularly when you consider that this is quite a small engine for this size of car. You might expect a 1.2 petrol engine to be more at home in a VW Polo for example, but the turbocharger makes all the difference and, as a result, you could consider this engine, coupled with a six-speed manual, the perfect combination. It's frugal, peppy and it'll keep the visits to the local fuel station to a minimum.

I had a short list of demands: it had to be comfortable, handle well, have a decent ride and it needn't be too complicated. I'm easily pleased.

So, we decided to go for the £17,135 S version and try to rein in the options. We kept the standard cloth seats but we added 15-inch alloy wheels (£405) over the steel wheels, front fogs (£230), a 'multi-device stereo with MP3/iPod (£350) connection, front and rear carpet mats (£75). The only mistake we made was not including a mult-function steering wheel with stereo controls on it because it is proving to be a pain keep reaching over to adjust the volume control. Still, apart from this omission, this is a no-nonsense machine with a few extra goodies and that should keep me happy.

The 1.2's stats don't point to much fun though. The official 0-60mph time is 10.6 seconds and has a top speed of 118mph - perfectly acceptable but hardly awe-inspiring - and it'll return a very admirable 49.6mpg on the combined cycle. Carbon dioxide emissions are a sensible 134g/km.

So, it's a logical buy that doesn't look that enticing, but after a few days behind the wheel, we were pretty pleased with our choice...

Average mpg: 41.7