2016 VW Golf 1.4 TSI BlueMotion – Impressions

Between the choice of a Toyota Auris and a VW Golf, I went for the Wolfsburg car.

2016 VW Golf front interior door-handle.
2016 VW Golf front interior door-handle.

The Toyota would be too uninteresting, I thought.

It would be simpler if I didn’t write a review at all. Nobody needs to know I drove this and no-one need ever discover what a hard time I’ve had writing something intelligent about Europe’s favourite car.

What will I remember about the Golf? Two or three things. One, the interior door grip is squeeky. It’s made of two shells that don’t fit precisely. In counterpoint, there are two interior rear roof lights that don’t budge when you turn them on. They were well-secured to the roof, not the headliner. And you’re never sure you’ve turned them off. Two, the CD player is in the glovebox. Three, the boot is smaller than I liked. Lots of litres are wasted under the boot floor panel. 

2016 VW Golf 1.4 TSI
2016 VW Golf 1.4 TSI

VW didn’t offer pockets behind the front seats and there’s no rear centre arm-rest. But you get flock-lined door bins. Millions of people will not enjoy long drives in the back of this car but phones and falderal are well-catered for.

The rest of the Golf offers an identical experience to a Hyundai i30 or Kia Ceed. The Golf is what people want and driving this has offered an insight into the tastes and preferences of all the people who don’t read DTW.

Here’s that door bin:

2016 VW Golf driver's door bin. Comfy for 'phones.
2016 VW Golf driver’s door bin. Comfy for ‘phones.

If I think back to the other mid-rangers I have driven I can say the Golf has been the most difficult to discuss because there is so little to engage with: almost faultless, sums it up. Apart from the boot, door-handle and arm-rest. And the HVAC controls can be called fiddly. It adds up to nullity with some minor snags.

I could never spend my own money on this. And millions do. Interesting, that.


Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

21 thoughts on “2016 VW Golf 1.4 TSI BlueMotion – Impressions”

  1. … and yet it’s my second favourite de’ Silva era VW, after the Polo. Personally, I find its proportions spot-on, with an excellent stance when if with wheels of the right size. The surfacing is also expertly done.

    Isn’t a somewhat clinical sense of competence what VAG is all about? Personally, I usually found their products most unimpressive when they were trying to cook up something ’emotional’, as during the ill-fated Schreyer/Günak plaque grille period.

  2. There’s not much wrong with the car. It’s also utterly sterile. It’s also bang on target regarding people’s preferences. I am curious how different the Auris is: not at all, I reckon.

  3. Surely the best Golf since the Golf IV. With the best design and reliable engines (which was not always a Golf´s strength).
    The success of the Golf is indicating that we are living in a low-risk-world. Many people don´t want to take any risks and are willing to pay some money to be sure about that.
    Even if your Golf will disapooint you, be sure, you get more money back when selling your bad Golf than selling your reliable 308 or Astra. So many people have problems with their Golf, and are still planning to buy the next one…despite the Diesel-Gate….

    Surprisingly Walter da Silva other Golf variations (Scirocco and Sportsvan) are ageing pretty fast. An old Walter da Silva problem (the Alfa 156 was ageing very quickly too).
    His best VW are the Polo and the Golf VII, I agree. And i want to ad the Up! to this group.

    1. The Scirocco was a Günak/Schreyer design, de’ Silva’s input was the last minute pre-production facelift.

    2. I agree about the later cars but can’t see eye to eye on the 156. It is still pretty and very classical. Yet it’s not retro apart from the grille.

  4. Base Golfs are very austere. Get a higher spec model and all the niceties like a rear armrest etc make it more habitable. It’s a great car.

    1. That is true – but then you need some tranquilizers to accept the price-tag. Or you have to compare the price with an equally equipped Audi A3….

      I read there are more than 100 different steering wheels, more than 300 different seats and more than 50 rear spoilers that can be part of your new Golf VII.
      So a Golf is a car for really introverted individualists.

  5. I can´t tell if people really like or just admire this car. Does anyone think they are, in any active sense, “nice”? There might be versions with that rear centre arm-rest and those all-important map pockets. That they sell them without these is rather horrible.

  6. Didn’t Jose Ignacio From The Block have notions of cutting down the twenty or so different rear view mirrors used across the entire VAG range to two or three?

    It seems to have gone rather the other way. That said, most of what was reported of Lopez’s pronouncements, I placed firmly in the category of “Rubbish that bosses speak and get away with because they’re bosses”.

    1. Ashtrays, doorhandles, seat-frames and what not. Once you’ve standardised that lot your launching a ship to a place called mediocrity, in the words of Lutz. Still, the Golf is mediocre and Alfa Romeo’s unique door mirrors and seat bolts don’t win them friends.

    2. There are at the moment 8 different battery types for the Golf VII -i think this is far more variety as the ultra personalizable DS3 can offer. But be quick, VW wants to reduce this number down to 4.

      Lopez is still working for Volkswagen – his new name is Francisco Javier Garcia Sanz and he came together with Mr. Lopez from Opel to Volkswagen…

  7. I’m not as impressed with the MkVII as I was when it first came out. Yes it looks solid and making it lower and wider than MkV/VI certainly improved its stance, but the interior is no a patch on the MkIV’s and outside there are some styling details that aren’t quite right – like the very pronounced crease that runs across the doors, or the uneasy relationship between the rear window and C-pillar. All in all it’s not as subtle and well resolved as the current Polo , which is the real star of the VW line-up right now in my opinion.

    1. I’d noticed the window ledge and C-pillar too. Also, the lamps are not distinct. They have one or two too many facets. After five edges silhouettes tend to be seen as rounded. The Polo is the new Golf. The Golf is a EuroBuick.

    2. The feature that irritates me about the Golf VII is the crease that runs across the rear hatch. It gives a sudden change of angle to the metal, yet it’s bisected by the gently curved badge. This grates for me.

    3. The Polo, in three-door guise, was almost flawless, pre-facelift (the car depicted is a facelifted one, hence the slightly fussier lamps and front skirt).

  8. Some considerable time before their shaming, VAG announced that there would be no three door in the next generation of Polos. All they were atoning for in this paticular act of raiment-rending was making a lot of cars, but not enough profit – a margin of around 3%, according to Sergio.

    Here’s the story:


    I must say it looks spot-on in that almost-Bugatti blue. Practically identical in its dimensions to the Golf Mk.2, but at least 20% heavier, and not as spacious. I can’t reconcile myself to the idea of a £20,000 Polo; the 1.8 turbo GTI makes a strong case, but everyone’s going to say “he couldn’t afford a Golf”. Best in low-cost, low spec form, though VAG might prefer you to visit your Škoda or Seat dealer if that’s where your preferences lie.

    1. Are you sure about that? The Polo will feel distinctly nimbler than the Golf if one wants a “fun-to-motor-around-in” kind of car. The Golf is now a pretty big car. I thought of my 1984 Buick Century. It looked different, I agree, but did the same thing and for similar sorts of people. The Polo is closer to the supermini size and I’m sure plenty of people who are interested in fahrvergnuegen will consciously pick that. It’s a pity that there is no saloon in the UK market, of course I’d say that.
      The lesson of brougham is that although motoring scribes keep thinking of economic woman and man, there seem to be a lot of people who will spec a car to the max even if its price swashes into the range of the next bigger size of body. Not everyone uses the the “for that much money I could get a bigger X instead of a smaller, more luxurious Y.”

  9. Very few people actually buy this rental version you drove, with plastic wheel trims and all. Higher spec versions will have rear armrests, a classy piano black dash and all the bits that make a Golf a LOT more classy than something like an Astra or the Hyundai you mention. Golfs have some class about them that none of the other can ever match. As ever it is THAT that people buy and not if it has an armrest or not.

    1. The classiness is not as clear to me as it is to customers. It is more a matter of the superficial differences of perfume packaging.
      About the arm-rests, I’ve seen plenty of these mid-spec models with the plain rear seating.

  10. As a mildly insecure new reader (loosing daily many hours through your archives) I find myself in need to justify my choice for a car you didn’t seem to like. Well, on paper at least, mine is even more bog-standard, but VW offers different specs as the Brazilian market is quite different to yours.
    The C-segment over here is probably the one which most suffered from the small SUV dictatorship. The only two new – by new I mean alligned with what is offered in Europe – products are the Golf VII and Focus III. Peugeot still offers the old 308 (restyled 307), Hyundai has a single version i30 with AT only and Chevrolet sells the new Cruze hatch, which looks good, but it too comes with AT only. 1-Series, A-class and A3 are sold for almost twice the price of the others and are, also, AT only. So options for medium sized hatches are quite narrow.
    I would gladly look for used Alfas, BMWs and other ways to get poorer over time but I have recently married so it’s not like I could choose that easily. By the end of the day we agreed it had to be brand new, not an SUV, MT and more refined than the 1.6 Fiesta (gen. 5, the boxy one) we were selling.
    The Focus was ditched early on due to its poor fit and finish, little room, and it didn’t help that we could only get a 1.6, with MT, in a 1350 kg car. It rides and drives beautifuly, but cited flaws were dominant. I’ve even found a brand new 2015 Bravo (production ended in 2016) that was nearly forgotten at a dealer. It would fill my soft spot for italian design, was very well equipped and with a significant discount. But lady didn’t have a good impression with the dirty car that had a dead battery and was missing some pieces of trim.
    So the Golf, which wasn’t our favorite from start, grew by not having any of those flaws and had a bunch of “pluses”. The base model, 1.0 TSI (125 bhp) was very appealing, and already came with much appreciated adjustable driver’s arm-rest, rear centre arm-rest, very good front seats, an ashtray (although I don’t smoke), map pockets and aluminum wheels.
    After I bought it I liked it even more. As an economist, the concept of trade-off is my mantra. I thought one was compromising joie de vivre over practicality, quality and comfort. Couldn’t be more wrong. It manages to feel like a driver’s car (low driving position, sweet gear lever, heel-and-toe comes naturally, nice steering, etc.), the engine, if certainly not a rocket, has a lot of character and is ridiculously economical, and it is 10-20% better, over my expectations, on quality feel, refinement and attention to detail. VW has put a lot of effort into it, but it shows very discreetly. It feels a bit special only after you get to know it more deeply.
    It’s a bit confusing but I get it now. A lot of people buy Golfs without knowing precisely what they want, and then buy it again. But people who really know what they want might be interested in the Golf too. There’s no reason to be ashamed of going full mainstream/public opinion on this matter.

    1. Hi: Thanks for dropping in and we´re glad you are rummaging around in the archives. There´s lots of good stuff there.
      As you describe it, the Golf is a quite rational choice and especially in your circumstances. I found it to be utterly anonymous compared to the other nearly anonymous cars in the class. As I might have said, none of the cars available in this sector are bad. What was interesting was that the Auris was clearly a car with a personality: relaxed, lazy, putting you at ease. The Golf felt hard and cold in comparison though the detailing mostly met standard expectations of VW design. On balance, I´d prefer the easy Auris to the aloof Golf.

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