Volkswagen Golf Review: 2007 Model | Golf | Car Buyers Guide

2007 Volkswagen Golf Review

Compound charging. Sounds like a new and exciting way for your mortgage provider to rip you off but, in actuality, it refers to the simple concept of force-feeding an engine with both a supercharger and a turbocharger so there are no flat-spots in the power delivery. It’s never been used in a production car before, however, because of the complexity of managing two induction systems, but it has finally bubbled into the mainstream in a Volkswagen Golf, of all things.

Just 1,390cc in capacity, the Golf GT’s engine uses a supercharger to churn out more low-down thump than Barry White (240Nm is available all the way from 1,750rpm to 4,500rpm) while a turbo charger takes care of the top-end shove (170bhp @ 6,000rpm), giving the 1.4 TSI some seriously big balls despite its rather modest jocks’ size. 0-100km/h takes a brisk 7.9 seconds and top speed is a healthy 220km/h, which is pretty impressive considering it’s got a hefty 1,293kg to haul around. At moderate speeds, however, the Golf GT feels surprisingly tame.

There’s very little urgency when you prod the throttle and it doesn’t jump up the revs like the GTi does when you drop it a gear or two. You have to be very deliberate in your request for forward motion because otherwise it will gather speed gradually, rather than grab a whole clump of it, as the GTi does. That said, when the car’s computers are completely and utterly convinced that you do, indeed, want to go fast the GT’s little engine goes completely ballistic, flying up the revs and propelling the GT forward with deceptive vigour. It even sounds rather good, revving smoothly all the way to redline with just a hint of supercharger whine (though it lacks the deep-chested charisma of the GTi engine). In short, it’s the most schizophrenic engine I’ve ever encountered. Most of the time, you can just amble along semi-comatose, completely unaware of the performance potential.

But if you stand hard on those balls, all hell breaks loose. But you know what? That suits me just fine. When I drive hard I like to drive really hard, and in such situations the 1.4 TSI is a gutsy and compelling companion. However, for the rest of the time, when I just want to go from A to B without waking the baby up or spilling my coffee, the GT is just as impressive. The engine is silent; the sport suspension, so impressive over challenging roads, rides with maturity and refinement and the DSG transmission, which makes you feel like a WRC driver on hard blasts, shifts with imperceptible smoothness. Its dual personality extends as far as its looks – it’s got the stance and attitude of a GTi (17” alloys, GTi suspension, twin exhausts) – but the body of a 1.4 Comfortline. Even the sports seats and leather steering wheel are somehow lost in the unrelenting blackness of its cabin. Good job there’s a little GT badge on the steering wheel. Otherwise, you might forget. In other countries, the GT costs almost as much as the full-strength GTi (it’s only €3,200 less in the UK and just €2,250 cheaper in Germany) and in that context, it’s easy to discount the GT as an interesting but overpriced oddity. But here, thanks to our backward (though soon-tobe-revised) VRT regime, the Golf GT 1.4 TSI is a whopping €5,200 less than the GTi, which is a very serious saving.

It’s more discrete and refined than the GTi, perhaps, but almost as fast and just as much fun to throw around. It’s not for everyone, but you can’t argue with the mathematics: 85 percent of the fun of the Golf GTi for 85 percent of the price. If thirty grand is your absolute limit, then you’ll do well to find a better dual-purpose car than the Golf GT 1.4 TSI.


Volkswagen Golf GT 1.4 TSI

Engine 1,390cc, 170bhp, 240Nm

Boot Capacity 350 litres

Acceleration 0-100 km/h 7.9 seconds

Top speed 220 km/h

Price €30,275

Transmission: 6-speed DSG

Economy 7.2 litres/100km

Weight 1,293kg


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