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Mean, green Volkswagen Golf Evo fires up as junior GTI

Sporty Volkswagen Golf R-Line gets 150PS version of new, fuel-saving 1.5-litre turbo petrol Evo engine. Picture: Volkswagen

Sporty Volkswagen Golf R-Line gets 150PS version of new, fuel-saving 1.5-litre turbo petrol Evo engine. Picture: Volkswagen

Volkswagen

Volkswagen’s new, greener Golf Evo turbo petrol is a junior GTI – fast, frugal and fun, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

Volkswagen Golf R-Line looks good and doesn't disappoint to drive. Picture: VolkswagenVolkswagen Golf R-Line looks good and doesn't disappoint to drive. Picture: Volkswagen

Mrs R is dumping diesel when she changes her car. She’s not alone but what does she go for instead?

Doing around 10,000 miles a year, and some long runs, puts her off pure electric so a petrol-electric hybrid makes sense and she likes the idea of a plug-in so she can travel around 30 miles on a charge, enough for most day’s drive, with the engine for longer trips.

Or how about a petrol engine that uses all four cylinders for power but cuts to two on a light throttle for higher MPG and lower CO2?

Fascia is efficient and user-friendly. Picture: VolkswagenFascia is efficient and user-friendly. Picture: Volkswagen

Under the bonnet

A highlight of the latest, seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf is the new 1.5-litre Evo turbo petrol engine – 130PS in SE, 150PS in GT and R-Line – with active cylinder management.

The previous 1.4-litre unit also ran on two cylinders on a light throttle but the new 130PS 1.5-litre BlueMotion version – now petrol instead of diesel – builds on those green credentials by completely shutting down when coasting, a first for a non-hybrid, while the 150PS cuts to two cylinders.

The 150PS version has the same power as the engine it replaces but feels brisker, like a junior GTI, with lots of low-down urgency thanks to 250Nm of torque from 1,500 to 3,500rpm for smooth, refined mid-range punch.

Volkswagen Golf's 380-litre boot is one of the biggest in its class. Picture: VolkswagenVolkswagen Golf's 380-litre boot is one of the biggest in its class. Picture: Volkswagen

Once up to speed, feather the throttle and the engine cuts to two cylinders – it doesn’t matter whether you are poodling around town or cruising at 70mph – and fuel consumption drops significantly. The result was mid 40s in everyday driving, 50 with longer journeys and one gentle run returned 60mpg.

Put your foot down, whether in the six-speed manual or seven-speed twin-clutch automatic, and it immediately seamlessly switches to four-pot power for swift acceleration.

How it drives

Rear seats back fold to free up 1,270 litres of load space. Picture: VolkswagenRear seats back fold to free up 1,270 litres of load space. Picture: Volkswagen

The R-Line’s dynamic styling is backed up by the drive. Good looks, good to drive, the handling is sporty enough to be rewarding tackling twisty roads.

With its lowered sports suspension and 17in alloy wheels, the ride is firmer, but not to the point of being unpleasantly harsh over poor surfaces, but there’s some bump-thump on ruts and ridges and noticeable tyre noise.

Space and comfort

The Golf is a spacious, well-appointed family hatchback – a reason it is such a big seller – with a cabin that can comfortably seat four large adults in supportive seats.

It also has one of the biggest boots in its class at up to 380 litres with a removable twin level floor panel. Rear seat backs split 60/40 and fold flush with the floor panel at sill level for a useful 1,270 litres cargo compartment.

The fit and finish of the cabin and quality look and feel of the materials are impressive, and built to last, putting the Golf on a par with many prestige models.

At the wheel

You’ll feel very at home at the wheel with a good range of adjustment and the fascia is a model of efficient, user-friendly ergonomics with many functions controlled via a responsive, eight-inch touchscreen as standard.

If you go for a model with satellite-navigation, it’s worth adding the optional 12.3in active info display for the option of having a smaller speedo and rev counter with the map dominating the display.

Final say

Volkswagen’s new 1.5-litre Evo petrol engine is a credible alternative to diesel power and the more powerful version is pretty mean, combining exciting performance with low emissions and high fuel economy.

SPEC AND TECH

Price: Volkswagen Golf R-Line 1.5 TSI Evo 150PS five-door, £25,095 (1.5 Evo range from £20,365)

Engine: 1,498cc, 150PS, four-cylinder turbo petrol with six-speed manual gearbox

Performance: 0-62mph 8.3 seconds; top speed 134mph

MPG: Urban 45.6; extra urban 64.2; combined 55.4

CO2 emissions: 116g/km

Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 22pc

Insurance group: 19E (out of 50)

Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles

Will it fit in the garage? L 4,258mm; W (including door mirrors) 2,027mm; H 1,492mm

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