Volkswagen Golf hatchback (2013-2019) - Interior & comfort
The Volkswagen Golf is supremely comfortable and quiet inside. Along with high quality, this is one of its most impressive features
Interior quality has always been a Volkswagen strong suit and the latest Golf is no exception to this rule. As soon as you climb aboard – whether it’s an entry-level model or a high-performance flagship – the first thing to strike you is how classy the interior feels.
While the driver’s seat looks a bit flat when you slide behind the steering wheel, it provides plenty of support over long distances. And the driving position is simply superb, with height adjustment for the seat allowing people of all shapes and sizes to get comfortable. Once on the move, the ride seems firm, yet is still supple over motorway bumps. The latest 1.5-litre engine is the quietest we’ve experienced in a Golf – subdued enough to highlight a little wind noise from around the mirrors that we’d never noticed before.
Generally, few will complain about discomfort or loudness, especially not in the light of such a well appointed and generously equipped interior.
Volkswagen Golf dashboard
The wraparound dashboard is finished in the kind of high-quality plastics you just don’t expect in this class, creating a greater sense of occasion than pretty much any other family hatchback. The materials used are of a higher grade than those found in rivals such as the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra – soft-touch finishes abound and metal-effect highlights add visual interest, even in out-of-sight places where some rivals cut corners by using cheaper plastics.
2017’s improvements have brought greater clarity and order to the instruments and controls and all the switchgear operates smoothly and with reassuring precision. Few cars are any price have a driving environment that’s as easy to navigate as a Golf’s.
The posh interior ambience is backed up by the fact that even entry-level S models get a that eight-inch colour touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard, which helps the Golf to feel upmarket from the word go. LED daytime running lights, predictive pedestrian detection, DAB digital radio, Bluetooth phone connectivity and air-conditioning that includes a cooled glovebox are fitted to all models – many brands charge extra for equipment like this on their entry-level cars.
However, the S doesn't seem such good value when you notice that other models from the Volkswagen Group, such as the SEAT Leon and Skoda Octavia, offer rather more standard equipment for a comparable price.
This disparity is reduced a little with the Match Edition, which is our favourite Golf trim level. It adds alloy wheels, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, adaptive cruise control, power-folding door mirrors and both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Two-zone climate control, LED headlights and the Winter Pack, which includes heated front seats, also feature.
GT Edition models add a bit of luxury, while R-Line Edition will appeal to buyers after sporty looks without the increased running costs of more powerful versions. These feature styling details to look almost like a Golf R at first glance, with a chunkier front bumper, R badging and a rear spoiler, although smaller 17-inch wheels give the game away. Inside, extra equipment includes black roof lining, piano black trim, two-tone sports seats and a Golf-R style steering wheel.
An impressive feature found across the entire range is the eight-inch infotainment screen – upgradeable to a whopping 9.2-inch screen as an option. The latter is a feature of the range-topping Discover Pro system, with a high-resolution display for crisp, bright visuals comparable to the most sophisticated of today’s smartphones.
It’s a feature-packed system, incorporating Apple CarPlay and Android Auto along with the DAB radio that all Golf models enjoy, but also with the ability to be controlled via a smartphone app – useful if you’re in the back seat and can’t reach the controls on the unit.
Speaking of which, a cutting edge development is the adoption of gesture recognition, with menus than can be navigated by swiping in front of the screen. However, in practice we found the system frustrating – gestures could be hard for the system to detect when on the road, proving more distracting than the more traditional controls. We still prefer using physical buttons – many of which have been supplanted by the gesture recognition system. Fortunately this system is only part of the optional Discover Navigation Pro set-up - all Golf’s get the more straightforward infotainment as standard.
Car-Net is a far more practical affair, automatically contacting the emergency services if an airbag is deployed – or notifying you on your mobile phone if the car is being broken into. The car’s online support is impressive, too – you’re kept informed of local fuel prices and parking availability while on the move.
The standard stereo will be capable enough for most music fans, especially as you not only have the huge range of digital radio stations to choose from, but can also plug in your smartphone to listen to your favourite digital tracks on the go. However, an upgraded Dynaudio Excite pack is available, comprising a 10-channel set-up with a 400w amplifier and eight speakers. It won the Best Audio System award for cars under £25,000 in the Car Tech Awards 2016, and really is an excellent system worthy of the £600 asking price if you can afford it. An upgrade to the Discover Pro infotainment system costs £1,300 and it seems a little mean that Voice Control is another £200 on top of that.
Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) adaptive dampers are another worthwhile optional extra. At £875, they're quite pricey, but they very effective, allowing you to adjust the firmness of the suspension between Sport, Comfort and Normal modes to suit your mood or the road conditions.
VW offers front and rear parking sensors for £500 on S trim, with a rear-view camera for an additional £350. Plus, the Park Assist system (which measures spaces at the side of the road to find a suitable one, then takes control of the steering for parallel-parking manoeuvres) looks good value at £600.
Which Is Best?
- Name1.0 TSI 115 S 5dr DSG
- Gearbox typeSemi-auto
- Name1.4 TSI eHybrid Style 5dr DSG
- Gearbox typeSemi-auto
- Name2.0 TSI 300 R 5dr 4MOTION DSG
- Gearbox typeSemi-auto