Volkswagen Golf GT TDI 4MOTION
Golf 4MOTION is based on the front-wheel drive GT model
- Diesel engine delivers useful performance with strong economy
- Four-wheel drive system is effective and unobtrusive
- Quality materials and design throughout
- Sports seats and good suspension means high comfort levels
- Gearchange can be obtrusive at times
- Interior would benefit from the use of brighter colours
- Despite high equipment levels, price is high compared to rivals
- Higher ride height would improve off-road ability
Aiming to provide a car for all buyers and lifestyles wearing the Golf badge, VW added its four-wheel drive technology to create the 4MOTION variant. Designed for occasional and light off-road use rather than heavy-duty mud plugging, it combines this flexibility with the traditional values of the Golf range.
With few genuine competitors in the same price bracket, it could be argued that VW is aiming for a small target audience. Many conventional hatches or estates that come in four-wheel drive form also get raised suspension and underbody protection, whereas the Golf retains the stiffer suspension as fitted to the two-wheel drive GT model. That puts it up against more performance-oriented machinery, although in diesel form it has the power to live up to these expectations.
As a car to drive and live with, the addition of the 4MOTION technology asks for no extra input or maintenance from the driver, operating in front-wheel drive mode for the vast majority of the time. It is only when low grip conditions are encountered that the system distributes more power to the rear wheels, which brings benefits in terms of economy and simplicity.
In everyday driving therefore, the 4MOTION variant feels no different from the regular GT TDI model. That means impressive performance from the 2.0-litre diesel engine, which delivers brisk acceleration and respectable economy for a car of this size. The ride and handling are also highly competent, and the slightly stiffer suspension set-up gives improved grip when driven on a demanding road. Comfort levels are not diminished however, and it remains a relaxing car on long journeys.
The interior and exterior are identical to the regular GT model, which means a handsome and modern appearance that is instantly recognisable as a Golf. The interior sets a high standard of fit and finish, with sensible and attractive design throughout.
Our verdict on the Volkswagen Golf GT TDI 4MOTION
The Golf 4MOTION cannot be faulted in terms of competence, delivering an impressive mix of performance, comfort and economy. Buyers looking for a car with genuine off-road ability may be disappointed, but for occasionally crossing difficult terrain, the 4MOTION is as simple to drive as any other family hatchback.
Although the initial purchase price of the 4MOTION is relatively high, running costs thereafter should be on a par with more humble Golfs. The 2.0-litre TDI engine can deliver 46mpg on the combined cycle, servicing is barely more complex and no more frequent, while low depreciation has always been a strong feature of the Golf range.
Space and practicality
Front seat passengers are well catered for in terms of space with good head and legroom, although the large centre console does diminish the amount of room in the footwells. Rear seat passengers can enjoy decent levels of head and legroom. Boot space is also good even with the complex four-wheel drive transmission running underneath the floor.
Controls and display
All the controls and displays in the Golf are clear, classy and simple, from the informative trip computer to the air conditioning controls. Even drivers who are unfamiliar with the layout would find it easy to find their way around. The instruments are clearly labelled, while at night the soft blue and red illumination is unobtrusive.
The standard sports seats are very supportive and comfortable, while holding you firmly in place during enthusiastic cornering. Rear seat passengers make do with a regular shaped bench seat, but even this is accommodating for adults. The ride quality is also impressive thanks to the sophisticated suspension set-up of the current Golf. Despite the increase in stiffness over the regular versions, the GT version is smooth and comfortable over most surfaces.
With remote central locking and an alarm with interior protection fitted as standard, the Golf 4MOTION should withstand the effort of most potential intruders. An electronic engine immobiliser should also defeat the most determined of thieves.
All Golfs comes with a comprehensive list of safety equipment, including ABS, six airbags, active restraints and ESP. All rear seat passengers benefit from a three-point seat belt and a head restraint. The only negative safety aspect is the wide rear pillar, creating a larger than average blind spot.
The 4x4 system adds to the driver appeal over the regular front-wheel drive version, as the substantial torque of the engine can be used in all conditions. There is a weight penalty to overcome however, so it does not feel as quick as the front-wheel drive version. With sports suspension and wide tyres, there is plenty of grip on offer, though the ride rarely becomes harsh.
Family car appeal
The Golf range has always been designed with families in mind, and the more specialised 4MOTION version is no different. The interior appears sufficiently hard wearing to cope with everyday use, and there are generous door pockets and a large glovebox for stowing oddments. The boot is big enough even with the rear seats in place, while standard Isofix mounting points make it easy to install a child seat.
First car appeal
Buyers looking for their first car will find nothing intimidating about the Golf, even with its powerful diesel engine and four-wheel drive system. All the controls are well weighted and easy to use, although reversing may be a little tricky for inexperienced drivers. The car's higher than average insurance rating is likely to be out of reach for most first-time buyers however, although the running costs should be relatively low, thanks to the car's efficient diesel engine.
Quality and image
This is one area where the Golf excels. Following on from previous generations, it feels like a quality item from your first contact with the car. The doors feel solid, and you slide into firm but comfortable seats and look over the high-quality dashboard. The exterior exudes quality too, and it is this reputation for an impressive finish that gives the Golf its enviable reputation. Many buyers will be tempted simply based on its image of being above regular family hatchbacks.
In three-door form the front seats slide forwards for easier access, though the doors themselves are quite large and heavy. The sports seats fitted as standard do have substantial side bolsters, but most drivers will have no problem gaining entry and getting comfortable inside the Golf.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
A 10-speaker CD tuner is fitted as standard in this model, which is mounted high in the dashboard and has large, clear buttons for easy use. The sound quality is of a good standard, and features such as the station display on the main screen and between the instruments are a useful addition.
Colours and trim
The standard trim for the Golf 4MOTION is high quality cloth, with leather on the steering wheel, gearlever and handbrake, making them more pleasant to touch. The remaining plastics and cloth coverings are well finished, but with only varying shades of grey, the overall effect is quite plain. While the quality of the interior is hard to fault, it would be much improved with the addition of some bolder colours.
A deep front windscreen gives excellent visibility for easy manoeuvring forwards, but reversing is more difficult, thanks to the Golf's trademark wide rear pillar plus a shallow rear screen. With practice, reversing would become easier, and parking sensors are available as an option.
Steel space saver mounted under boot floor
Two engine options - 2.0-litre FSI petrol (150bhp) and 2.0-litre TDI diesel (140bhp). Both mated to six-speed manual gearbox and four-wheel drive transmission. Both models come in GT trim.
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