Volkswagen Golf

R-Line 1.5 TSI EVO

Volkswagen Golf, profile
Volkswagen Golf, front quarter
Volkswagen Golf, boot
Volkswagen Golf, rear quarter
Volkswagen Golf, dynamic
Volkswagen Golf, interior rear
Volkswagen Golf, interior
Volkswagen Golf, controls

YOU can't please all of the people all of the time according to the old adage.

The Volkswagen Golf, however, has been flying in the face of this perceived wisdom for more than four decades - steadfastly appealing to all and sundry since it's 1974 launch.

From boy racers to silver surfers and all generations in between and whether singletons, couples or families, there seems to be a Golf for everyone.

Now in its seventh generation, well over 33 million have been sold worldwide, two million here in the UK, and it is the most popular European car ever.

A Golf has emerged from Volkswagen factories around the globe at an average rate of one every 40 seconds for the last 43 years to meet the demand and it has become the benchmark against which all others in its class are judged.

Sustained success isn't achieved by resting on your laurels, though, and with the current version having been around since 2012 this year's mid-life refresh was timely.

In true VW Group fashion, design modifications are subtle to say the least but look closely and you'll spot new bumpers, new halogen headlamps with LED daytime running lights, new front wings and new full LED rear lights.

Updated wheel designs and colour choices round off the exterior updates, while new trim panels and materials consolidate an interior that was already impressively premium feeling.

More significant changes come in the shape of a new and updated engine range, improved infotainment systems and more digital technology and connectivity available across the usual wide range of trims and body styles.

Perhaps the most significant development is the debut of the turbocharged 1.5 TSI Evo petrol engine which powered my car and will eventually replace the old 1.4-litre TSI across the Volkswagen range.

This new four-cylinder powerplant features active cylinder management technology - shutting down cylinders when not needed - to help deliver a potential 56.5 miles per gallon on average.

Kicking out 150ps and mated to a newly developed seven-speed dual clutch gearbox it proved a versatile and refined performer.

Acceleration, either off the mark or on the move, won't set the heart racing but, with a top speed of 134mph, it is certainly not sluggish. The automatic transmission is also efficient and unobtrusive and progress is smooth and refined at all times.

Alongside the Golf's characteristic well-weighted steering, solid and predictable handling and impressive grip and body control, this is a very capable mid-range proposition which copes equally well around town or on the open road - which is appropriate, because to get this engine you have to step up to mid-range GT or R-Line trim.

The R-Line model I drove adds a sporty edge with a bespoke styling pack that includes more muscular bumpers, sills, spoilers and radiator grille, while inside front sports seats feature R-Line detailing.

Standard equipment includes an 8.0 inch touchscreen infotainment and navigation system, DAB radio, air conditioning, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, electric folding door mirrors, rear privacy glass, automatic lights and wipers and front and rear parking sensors.

Typically of VW, though, there is a long list of options, 55 in all, which can be added. In fact, my car had more than £7,000 worth of extras to help give it a really premium feel.

These are not essential, of course, but you do have to pay extra for some things you might reasonably expect to be included on a car already costing more than £26,000. A rearview camera, for instance, which many cheaper rivals offer as standard, will set you back an extra £265.

Having said that, when the only thing you can find to moan about is the price of the options, it's a sign that a car must be getting most other things right.

FAST FACTS

Volkswagen Golf R-Line 1.5 TSI EVO

Price: £26,535

Mechanical: 150ps, 1,495cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 7-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 134mph

0-62mph: 8.3 seconds

Combined MPG: 56.5

Insurance Group: 19

C02 emissions: 114g/km

Bik rating: 22%

Warranty:3yrs/60,000 miles

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