Tried & Tested: Volkswagen Golf VI 1.4 TSI

Golf VI 1.4 TSI with DSG

Welcome to AUSmotive’s second Tried & Tested review. This time, with a bit of a difference. As you can see we’re discussing the new Mk6 Golf, and with the new Golf not making its Australian debut until later this month I have had to follow a few leads via the VWvortex forums to file this report. This has led me right to the heart of Volkswagen, with the owner of this Mk6 Golf, Jimmy, an ex-pat US citizen now residing in Wolfsburg. Jimmy has been kind enough answer a few questions about his new wheels…

Q. Can you please list the full spec of your car, how long you have owned it and kilometres travelled.

A. I have the 1.4 litre TSI 160PS (approx 117kw) engine and the 7-speed DSG transmission, with flappy paddles on the steering wheel. It is only a few months old and I have completed just 1500 kilometyres so far.

It also has heated leather seats with power lumbar, the new generation RNS-510 sat nav system (with the hard disk drive). There is also Park Assist, although no reverse camera, just sensors in the bumpers, and it can also parallel park automagically.

Obviously by the pictures you can see it is a three door version. As of right now new Mk6 Golf is still quite rare, even here in Wolfsburg. I’ve only seen one or two others like it, quite unique for a town that renamed itself “Golfsburg” a few years ago.

My car was made in Mosel (Zwickau) and not in Wolfsburg.

[Ed: This is interesting, as I had previously heard that all Mk6 Golf production was to take place in Wolfsburg, perhaps all Golf production will now be in Germany, rather than Wolfsburg itself.]

Golf VI 1.4 TSI with DSG

Golf VI 1.4 TSI with DSG

Golf VI 1.4 TSI with DSG

Golf VI 1.4 TSI with DSG

Q. The story goes Volkswagen rushed the Golf VI forward because the Golf V was too costly to produce, are there any obvious signs of cost cutting and does the build quality meet expectations?

A. The car has spent a few hours in the shop for a blown driver’s side power window motor. Despite recent cold and snowy weather the car is garaged for the majority of the time, so I doubt Volkswagen can blame the cold for the problem.

Aside from me putting a few dents in my past Volkswagens I have yet to have a mechanical failure of any kind and I don’t feel any difference in this one.

My wife is a Volkswagen employee and we get a new/lease car every nine months or so and the trip to the dealership for the window motor was my very first repair to one our cars in over 5 years.

However, as I don’t have my cars for very long so I’m not sure I can report in regards to true long term ownership.

Golf VI 1.4 TSI with DSG

Q. You have the 160PS 1.4 TSI, can you describe its performance.

A. To put it mildly, it is a screamer, plain and simple. I once saw a comment on an Australian website by a Golf GT owner hoping the specs for this car were incorrect (the car was not released yet) because this car has more power, is faster and costs less than his Golf GT. I think he will be disappointed. This car flies!

Having said that, the 7 speed DSG races through the gears a bit too fast for my taste. Before you know it you are in 6th or 7th gear. There is a Sport mode which is the complete opposite.

When driven in normal mode the car can and does accelerate at a surprising pace. Sure, on paper and in a race it may not beat a GTI, but I firmly believe it will certainly make a GTI driver sit up and take notice, no matter how much their pride tells them otherwise.

Q. Can you elaborate a bit more on the 7 speed DSG.

A. I’ve never driven the previous 6 speed DSG, but I love this new 7 speed DSG. It is a bit quirky when you first press the gas pedal. The transmission pauses or hesitates when you first step on the gas, but only very briefly. From then on it is completely smooth shifting and predictable. No surprises, no problems—it just goes.

It is so smooth that I need to check the dashboard display to see which gear I am in.

Q. Volkswagen claims a combined city/urban fuel consumption of the 1.4 TSI is 6l/100km (47.1mpg), in your real world experience does this claim stack up?

A. The way this car races through the gears to get to 7th gear it would not surprise me if it gets pretty close to 47mpg, but I honestly have not kept track of fuel economy.

Golf VI 1.4 TSI with DSG

Golf VI 1.4 TSI with DSG

Q. Your car has quite a lot of options and features, is there one you like or dislike over the others?

A. The functionality of the audio system and sat nav would be my favourite.

But, I hate the turning/cornering lamps! If one more person tells me I have a driving light burned out I’m going to scream. If they would only come on when I activate the turn signal I would not mind, but they light up at ANY turn and I find it annoying. If there is a way to de-activate them easily my wife and I will be very embarrassed because we’ve combed the owner’s manual with no luck.

Q. Have you had any reliability problems or build issues with your car?

A. Aside from the window motor not really. I have noticed a “soft spot” in the floor behind the driver’s side (where the rear passenger puts their feet). It is probably just a drainage plug in the floor in case water gets into the passenger compartment, but it’s a bit disturbing to step down and feel like you’ve just broken something under there.

Golf VI 1.4 TSI with DSG

Golf VI 1.4 TSI with DSG

Q. What are the most favourite and least favourite things about your new Golf?

A. Favourites (radio/sat nav functions aside), acceleration, handling, looks, uniqueness (though that probably won’t last long in Wolfsburg) and driving position.

My least favourite things would be those damn cornering lamps, the black interior looks dirty within days (see photos), the slight gas-pedal pause, the heated seats do not stay on between drives, the ever present slight antifreeze smell when the heater is on (though all of my more recent VWs had this as well) and it is difficult to clean the inside of the front windscreen (this may have something to do with the vapours from the antifreeze smell, as my previous newer VWs also had this).

Volkswagen's Autostadt in Wolfsburg

Q. You collected your car from the Autostadt, what was that experience like?

A. I’ve been to The Autostadt dozens of times, whether it be to pick up our cars, for the occasional concert, or just to see the latest additions to the Volkswagen Collection. To me, it is not so special any more. Although, picking up your car there is quite different.

The building towers you go to for your car collection is within, and part of, the Autostadt itself. Of course, admission to the Autostadt is free if you are picking up your car.

Arrangements are made ahead of time and you are notified by mail of the day and time your car will be ready to be picked up. You check in at a special office on the second floor of the main Autostadt entrance. After you check in and receive your entrance card you wait around until your name appears one of several screens which tell you which gate to go to. (Inside the main entrance building there is a Volkswagen accessory shop and a couple of places to eat, so there is enough to keep you amused while waiting.)

After your name has appeared on screen you are then led downstairs to your car. Here you can get a complete run down of your car and its features. You can always look downstairs at the waiting cars from above. It’s actually quite fun to try to spot your car down there, I guess it just adds to the uniqueness of collecting your car at the Autostadt.

Q. What other Volkswagens have you owned, and how does your Golf VI compare?
A. I’ve owned two 1980s Mk1 Golfs (Rabbits) in America, a 1985 GTI and a 1985 Scirocco.

Here in Germany I’ve had mostly family cars, Golf wagons, Tourans and Caddys.

Believe it or not, apart from my 1985 model, I’ve never driven a newer GTI!

Technology marches on and this new Golf VI, at least my TSI version, is my favorite. I highly doubt it will beat my 1982 Rabbit Diesel for long term reliability. That car just ran and ran and ran every day. However, this new one is very impressive.

Is it more impressive than the Golf V? I honestly don’t think an owner of a Golf V will be overjoyed with emotion at the difference between the V and the VI.

This is also my first petrol Volkswagen I’ve had in Germany, all of my previous cars here have been TDIs.

Golf VI 1.4 TSI with DSG

Golf VI 1.4 TSI with DSG

Golf VI 1.4 TSI with DSG

Golf VI 1.4 TSI with DSG

Thanks to Jimmy for sharing his thoughts with AUSmotive, there’s some great feedback there and you can be sure I’ll be keeping an eye on some those points when I get my hands on a Mk6 Golf later this year.

If you can’t wait to see the Golf for yourself, have a play around on the Golf VI configurator, courtesy of Volkswagen UK.

For more feedback and larger images, check out Jimmy’s thread on VWvortex.com.