The best thing about this car is the engine. It's smooth, reliable, economical (48 mpg average, 55 best) and delivers mid range acceleration which quite frankly beggars belief. It feels hot hatch quick through the gears, and the shove between 1700 and 4000 is enough to press you firmly into the seat. It does however make me wonder why they fitted a six speed gearbox to an engine which really doesn't care what gear it is in.
So, it rocks in a straight line, but when the going gets twisty, the Golf isn't so impressive. It rolls a bit, and the whole car feels lardy and ponderous after my old 306 D Turbo, with steering which lacks the weight and precision of the Pug's, and with understeer in corners at speeds which the Pug wouldn't even have sniffed at. That said, most of my driving nowadays is motorways and open A-roads, at which the Golf excels. It rides nicely, is beautifully refined, and that mid range grunt makes overtaking a doddle. Costs peanuts to run too when you combine the fuel consumption with the way these things hold their value.
The Golf looks brilliantly finished with nice soft feel plastics inside, and a typically Germanic layout to the controls, meaning orderly, neat, but not the last word in excitement. That said, the beautiful blue and red instrument illumination is a work of art. Unfortunately its durability and quality don't seem to go more than skin deep, my car having suffered a multitude of build and trim niggles which are frankly unacceptable on a car which is sold on the back of its high quality reputation. Especially as it commands a hefty price premium over its rivals. This car has more rattles and squeaks at 26,000 miles than my old 306 D-Turbo had at 75,000 miles when I sold it. Don't think much of the dealers either who are clearly enjoying the sales success of VW and feel they don't need to bother looking after customers.
Overall though I am pleased with the Golf. The diesel engine is not just good by diesel standards, but can be classed as a good engine in its own right, such is its grunt and flexibility. It's a fast, refined little car which does everything (except back road blasts) brilliantly. I just wish it was built better, or that it was priced in line with its rivals. Good car though.