My next outing was in a higher-specification SE variant, in this case powered by VW’s 1.4 litre turbocharged TSI engine, producing 122 PS and driving through a six speed gearbox.
The engine is especially smooth-running and quiet, helping to give the car a very refined feel. It also pulls very strongly and without fuss from low engine speeds; indeed the torque available from the 1.4 litre power unit has to be experienced to be fully appreciated… Although seldom required in real-world motoring, my co-driver and I found that the motor would in fact pick up without hesitation or complaint from well below 1,000 rpm.
At higher engine speeds the unit is responsive and performs eagerly, with rapid acceleration from rest, and on the move, when needed.
This Golf is certainly equipped to a high level too, and one of the SE’s standard features we were keen to try for ourselves was the Adaptive Distance Control system.
It takes a few minutes to get used to operation of the system, and especially in trusting the set-up to intervene if it senses that the Golf you are driving is getting too close to the vehicle in front. However, once mastered it works very effectively at maintaining a safe distance between your VW and the car you are following. We tried it at various speeds, and on roads which included main ‘A’ routes and a motorway (on such roads it is especially reassuring, once you learn to have faith in the system!).
If you are not seeking the ultimate in terms of emissions/fuel consumption performance (in which case a diesel version would suit you better), this eager petrol model is definitely worth considering for its overall competence. It’s a refined vehicle, and fun to drive.
As with the diesel version I drove first, the actual fuel consumption achieved during my test drive of this petrol TSI version equated with the published figure for ‘Urban’ motoring (in this case 42.8 mpg), rather than the better, ‘Combined’ figure (of 54.3 mpg).
TECH SPEC IN BRIEF
GOLF SE 1.4 TSI 122 PS
1390cc 16 valve four cylinder, with stop/start and battery regeneration technology
122 PS @ 5,000 rpm
148 lb.ft/200 Nm @ 1,500 rpm
(‘Urban’): 42.8 mpg
(‘Extra Urban’): 65.7 mpg
(‘Combined’): 54.3 mpg
‘On the road’ price £19,645