This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest Volkswagen Golf Hatchback review.

Parkers overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5

Volkswagen Golf performance levels are strong right across the range. The entry level engine in the Golf is a 1.4-litre unit with 80bhp which is joined by a 1.6-litre with 102bhp. Both engines have been carried over from the previous Golf but with tweaks to make them slightly more economical. However, for its more powerful engines Volkswagen has concentrated on improving efficiency while still making them enjoyable to drive.

As a result the top-of-the-range petrol is only a 1.4-litre, but it's a TSI engine. This means it uses a turbocharger and a supercharger to deliver an impressive 160bhp and a 0-62mph time of 8.0 seconds - while still averaging 45mpg. It's a great engine to drive with plenty of punchy performance low down and a free-revving nature that's enjoyable to exploit.

There's also a less powerful 122bhp version (that uses a single turbocharger) which will cover the 0-62mph benchmark in 9.5 seconds - but feels much quicker than the figures suggest with great in-gear performance. The diesel choice starts a 1.6 TDI and there are several versions available. The first is an entry level 90bhp offered in S trim only while the second has 105bhp and is also available with a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox - both return 63mpg.

The other variant is the BlueMotion Technology model which emits just 107g/km of CO2 and averages 69mpg. In October 2009 an even more advanced BlueMotion model was introduced. Also powered by the 1.6 TDI engine it features a sports styling kit to improve aerodynamics (and make it more attractive) along with an engine start/stop system and longer gear ratios.

As a result emissions are lowered to just 99g/km of CO2, making it free to tax, while fuel economy is an amazing 74mpg. There's also a 2.0 TDI engine with 110bhp - this emits just 119g/km and averages 63mpg while a 140bhp version of the same engine is available. Both are quiet and refined with plenty of low-down grunt and a smooth power delivery. The top diesel is the 2.0 TDI with 170bhp available exclusively in the GTD model.

Like the other diesels this is a common rail engine, so it's quiet and refined. It also delivers its power incredibly smoothly and there's no lag at low revs as on the older TDI engines from Volkswagen. As a result it's excellent to drive with plenty of power across the rev range making overtaking simple. It's quick from 0-62mph too with a time of 8.1 seconds yet the best part is fuel economy of 53mpg.

The standard Golf gearbox is a five or six-speed - both versions of which are positive and precise, while a DSG semi-automatic transmission (with either six or seven gears) is available as an option.

Safe and comfortable best sums up driving the Golf - it corners neatly with precise and well-weighted steering while there's only minimal body roll. It's incredibly reassuring and never loses its composure, even if you have to suddenly brake or change direction, while the standard stability control will prevent the car from losing traction or skidding.

It's an enjoyable car to drive along a twisting road, with the ability to effortlessly flow between corners plus there's plenty of grip too. An adjustable suspension system is available as an optional extra - called ACC (which stands for Adaptive Chassis Control) it uses pneumatics to control the suspension and allows the driver to choose between comfort, normal and sport.

Changing the setting, which also alters the steering and throttle response, makes a noticeable difference and the comfort mode is particularly good for rough surfaces. However with the standard ride striking such a good balance between ride and handling there seems little point paying extra for it.