Review: Volkswagen Golf 1.0 TSI 85

Review: Volkswagen Golf 1.0 TSI 85
Review: Volkswagen Golf 1.0 TSI 85

Can the very cheapest Golf you can buy still cut it?

It’s tempting to think you can step into the acclaimed line-up of Volkswagen Golf family hatchbacks for just £17,765; even the more practical five-door comes in at under £18,500. But experience suggests the cheapest of anything is rarely the best. Is the same true for the Golf?

Things start off positively: it has a TSI badge on the back, indicating there’s a turbocharged petrol engine under the bonnet. Trouble is, that engine is a 1.0-litre three-cylinder motor, producing just 84bhp. Other cars that have engines this small and light on power are usually, well, much smaller and lighter.

Volkswagen Golf 1.0 TSI 85

Price: £17,765
Engine: 1.0-litre, three-cylinder, turbo, petrol
Power: 84bhp
Torque: 129lb ft
Gearbox: Six-speed manual
0-62mph: 11.9sec
Top speed: 112mph
Economy: 58.9mpg
CO2, tax band: 108g/km, 20%

Needless to say, then, this Golf is no ball of fire. Indeed, it at times feels out of its depth on faster motorways and A-roads, demanding foot-to-the-floor commitment if you don’t want to get in the way of others.

But if you scale things back a little, it’s not actually that bad. There’s strong low-down pull and, in terms of refinement, it’s excellent – it’s not far shy of bigger and more sophisticated Golf engines in this respect.

And it drives just as well as them, too. Handling is clear and predictable, it’s easy to position on the road, and while its meagre 15-inch wheels mean it doesn’t quite have the incisiveness of a sportier Golf, it’s still more than capable. Those chunky tyres mean the ride quality is also excellent – notably smoother than fast Golfs in this regard.

If you’re looking at the base-spec Golf, you’re looking at S trim, which means flat, slightly austere seats that lack the support of the nicer chairs in the Golf SE. But, despite a somewhat bleak grey colour scheme, the rest of the dash doesn’t feel particularly down-scaled – it’s soft to the touch and quality is excellent. Space is good and the boot is a decent size.

One affordable option you may want to tick is the leather steering wheel and gearknob, though. Not only do both feel nicer than the plastic standard items, it also brings buttons on the steering wheel for controlling the trip computer and audio.

Overall, all the fundamental Golf strengths shine through on this base-spec model. But we still think it’s best avoided, simply because the engine is so lacking in power. Even the 1.0 TSI 115 will be a better bet than this 1.0 TSI 85, and that’s barely £1000 extra – that it comes in SE spec, which brings welcome extra equipment such as alloy wheels, seals the deal.

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