Merc’s entry-level hot hatch has grown a boot to take on the Audi S3 Saloon
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The Top Gear car review:Volkswagen Golf
For:Refined, great engines, spacious, cabin quality
Against:More composed than fun to drive, new cabin tech is a pain to use
What is it?
The Golf is to hatchbacks what the Mercedes S-Class is to luxury limos, or the iPhone is to mobile telephones: a crowd-pleasing, endlessly popular device that covers every base 99.9 per cent of the population could ever want – or need – it to. This Mk7 version is lighter than before, and in facelifted, post-2016 guise, offers self-driving-in-traffic function, and updated engines. Need more practicality? There’s a longer estate, or taller Golf SV mini-MPV. Need more performance? There’s a GTI hot hatch – the tartan-seated icon – and the R super-hatch. Want to meet in the middle? You can have a GTE plug-in hybrid or the GTD go-faster diesel. Or the electric e-Golf, with its 190-mile range. See what we mean about having all the bases covered?
Price-wise, the Golf is a more premium option than say, a Focus or an Astra, but it’s also a far more multi-talented one, offering a securer and supremely refined drive in regular guise, and a high-quality, largely ergonomic cabin – we used to have higher praise for it, but recently VW’s had a go at ruining it inside with new touchscreens that are worse, and so on. But it’s spacious, quiet, safe, and smart. As an all-rounder, the Golf simply cannot be beaten. As a result, it’s the car that Top Gear staffers tend to recommend when asked ‘what should I buy?’ more often than anything else.