VOLKSWAGEN Golf 7 – Motorlegend . Test

Jean-Francois Destin on 10/22/2012

Stylish design, controllability, comfort, increased roominess, less polluting engines, and prices included: the seventh edition of the Volkswagen Golf divides the competition.

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Stylish design, controllability, comfort, increased roominess, less polluting engines, and prices included: the seventh edition of the Volkswagen Golf divides the competition.

On top of that, it benefits from a stunning finish worthy of a top-notch sedan. During the international trials in Sardinia (1700 journalists were invited!), this amazing leap in quality was apparent to us. Built on a new modular platform that is adaptable to practically all VW and Audi models, the Golf has been transformed to look a little taller (4.25m) but wider (in the interest of interior comfort) and lower with a loss of nearly 100 lbs!

Breaking the weight spiral recorded with each new generation was the red thread for technicians. The result: the Golf VII is simpler, easier to handle, more efficient and comfortable. Testing of the innovative version TSI 1.4 140 hp with cylinder deactivation demonstrates the importance of this technological revolution that only manufacturers in good financial health can take into account. Golf VII: The Key to Perfection prides itself on VW in its press materials. Unfortunately for the competition, it’s not just marketing.

The new Golf will go on sale starting in November with three, five-door and … 62 copies. There are 3 petrol engines (85, 105, 140 hp), 2 TDI diesels (105 and 140 hp), 2 gearboxes (6-speed manual or dual-clutch DSG) and a dual or all-wheel transmission. Competitive prices range from €17,790 to €31,920.

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Exterior and interior design

Like the Beetle, Porsche 911 and Fiat 500, the Golf has become an icon of the contemporary automobile industry. So much so that in terms of design, Volkswagen never dared question the original concept. After 6 generations and 29 million units sold worldwide (including 2 million units in France), the Golf is changing again without any real visual interruption. However, this seventh edition is unprecedented.

While it still uses large rear quarter pillars (a common denominator for all generations), it stands out with a smoother, sharper line, its hood sinks higher than the fenders (it was the opposite of that before) and the front grille has a thin grille connecting optics.

Thanks to the new platform, the front wheels can be moved forward by 43 mm, which significantly reduces the protrusion. Highly polished, the back benefits from a width that has increased to 1.80 metres. Finally, the rim-like roofline halfway up the doors, below the latches, contributes to its sleek, sporty look.

The passenger compartment, offering more living space, particularly in the aft, adds to the traditional Germanic solemnity a treatment of the highest standard never seen before in this class. Admittedly, VW had the skill to commission us test models in a superior carat finish (with Alcantara, walnut, and brushed aluminum inserts), but we made sure the build quality and finishes were all concerned with the variants and models arriving at the end of the trend line, we also see their gear is impregnated. (7 airbags, new multi-collision brake system, XDS self-locking differential, electric parking brake, tire pressure alert, etc.).

The impressive instrument panel with a driver-facing center console has a large multifunction display. It is equipped with an intelligent manual approach sensor that automatically controls the selection of programs. A very good note also for the visual and tactile quality of all the controls and buttons. Finally, the ergonomics of the seats (seat, lateral support) in unison with the car’s suspension should fit all types of bodies while ensuring excellent comfort.

With an increase of 30 dm3 to 380 dm3, the threshold for access to the safe was lowered, and its conversion became easy and practical.

Chassis and engine

Wider trails, longer wheelbase, and improved running gear: the Golf VII combines all the advantages to deliver extremely safe handling and plenty of comfort. If all versions are empowered to a McPherson Strut axle up front, only models over 120 horsepower receive a true multi-link rear suspension.

Reaching the 1.2 TSI Petrol 85 hp or 105 hp range must be satisfied with a standard slightly deformable axle, not necessarily in the top.

We only lend to the rich, and those who opt for a sophisticated karat finish and a DSG dual-clutch gearbox will be able, for an additional €995, to take advantage of the DCC controlled suspension. It automatically adapts to the road surface and you can, by selecting one of the five modes (Eco, Normal, Sport, Single and Comfort) work on the vehicle’s functions.

As always, the battery-powered engines have been the subject of improvements aimed at performance, polluting emissions and consumption (4.9 l/100 km on average on petrol and 3.8 l/100 km on diesel). Sobriety obtained in the laboratory, but impossible to find on the road in everyday use. Thus, the 140 ct TSI equipped with active cylinder management, advertised at 4.7 l / 100 km, and finally claimed 8.2 l / 100 km, at the end of the road crossing, it’s true mountain terrain, but without really attacking and being alone on board.

The customer can choose between 3 petrol engines (1.2 with 85, 105 and 140 hp and two TDIs with 105 and 150 hp). While the six-speed manual gearbox is a lot of fun to handle, make the financial effort to opt for the premium DSG dual-clutch gearbox. Soft and well-groomed, it drips in perfect driving quiet while weighing positively on consumption.

on the steering wheel

Known to be a safe bet and without (bad) surprises, golf can be bought with your eyes closed. For this seventh edition it is best to keep it open to see the build quality and finish and the richness of the materials on the board. Besides, the faint noise when the door is closed announces the color. Golf is EXCELLENT down to the last detail. Only the VW badge in shiny chrome-like plastic stands out in the center of the steering wheel. For the rest, everything is infused with an elegant high-tech atmosphere.

When ignited, the 1.4 TSI 140 hp engine is very conservative. Yet it is very present and guarantees our Golf amazing dynamism in acceleration and times. It innovates with the Active Cylinder Management System. At a stable speed between 1400 and 4000 rpm, the second and third cylinders no longer produce power and operate in their inertia through a trick at the camshaft. When driving, you do not feel any particular sensation and according to Volkswagen, this system will provide 0.5 l / 100 km. Small extras plus stop/start and recuperation of braking power on all models.

But on the occasion of this short test came a very good surprise from the damping and driving pleasure on the deteriorating Sardinian roads. Everything is filtered at the level of suspension and direction that does not rise, does not tremble, does not vibrate. So much so that we almost regret the lack of more information from the front axle. Great job anyway, in perfect harmony with my standard-equipped 17-inch Pirelli P7.

Silent and easy to handle, the Golf VII also benefits from precise, well-directed gearbox control and stable braking which is very adequate in everyday use.

to remember

quotesThe third most important stage in golf history after the original launch in 1974 and the revival of the Golf IV in 1997, marks a major turning point in terms of style, technological content and presentation. This seventh generation certainly stands apart from its direct competitors even if it charges a bit more. Admittedly, giving each end seems more generous than before. But as BMW, Mercedes Audi, Porsche and a few others have gotten used to, the most interesting innovations come with expensive options and packages. It’s fair game for a group that, thanks to the rationalization of components and a common bank of members, is pulling Volkswagen to the top. Towards the areas that Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini…not to mention Bugatti are attracted to. Whoever can do more can do less! From now on, Golf VII buyers will not have the impression that they are under the control of a public car. Very bad news for our three French manufacturers, in particular Renault, which accused its Clio IV of taking the opposite path, hiding multiple searches for savings under a thick layer of cosmetics.
strength pointDesign, interior, technology on board, great engine, suspension comfort, spaciousness, build quality.

Weak pointsToo many optional equipment such as a keyless system (€391) have been reserved for the carat finish alone.


2012 prices:

140 hp

0 to 100 km/h:
8.4 seconds

Mixed consumption:
4.7 l / 100 km

CO2 emissions:
109 g/km

we saw

Driving pleasure:

Active and passive safety:

Comfort and life on board:


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