Golf Mk 7 Estate Review

8th March 2015

Whilst my car was having its third timing belt, tensioner and water pump replaced I was given a 2014 Golf Estate SE 1.6 TDI 77KW/105bhp with 7 speed automatic gearbox as a courtesy car. It’s just like a Golf... but bigger! I don’t expect I'll ever want an estate version of the Golf because I just don’t need the extra luggage space. But from the rear seats forward, it was just like a hatchback.

Adaptive Cruse Control (ACC)

7-speed DSG gearbox
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I had driven a Mk 7 Golf before but this was my first drive of an automatic. I love all the gadgets in the Mk 7: The Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), the Auto Start-Stop, the electronic hand brake with Auto-Hold, etc. The ACC works particularly well when paired with an automatic gearbox leaving you with just the steering to take care of. Admittedly sometimes it doesn't brake quite as smoothly as you can and perhaps it's not the most economical way of driving. But in slow moving, creeping traffic, it is nice to be able to pass over control of the mundane starting and stopping. Albeit, in the back of your mind, remembering that ultimately you are responsible and so need to be monitoring things just in case the system should ever get confused and you need to step in.

Auto Start-Stop

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Whilst the ACC worked particulary well with an automatic gearbox I found that the Auto Start-Stop feature wasn't quite so well suited. With a manual gearbox the Auto Start-Stop feature does not affect your driving at all. I can see no real reason why you would ever want to disable it. The second you press the clutch pedal in to put the car in gear, the engine is started and is spinning by the time you are ready to move off. With an automatic, the car has no prior warning before you put your foot on the accelerator that you want to go and so you have to wait, probably no more than a second, for the engine to fire up and start moving. If you want to set off quickly, it can be annoying. Fortunately, those clever people at Volkswagen appear to have realised this so as well allowing you to turn this feature off, they also allow you to prevent the engine stopping on a per-stop basis. All you need to do is, once you have come to a stop, press the brake pedal down a little bit further, firmly and the engine keeps running. Clever Volkswagen!

Driver Profiles

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The automatic gearbox is of the dual clutch (DSG) type unlike the old, less-efficient automatics. My understanding of these is that when in gear, they are as efficient as a manual gearbox. SE and above versions of the Mk 7 Golf come with selectable Driver Profiles (Normal, Eco, Sport & Custom) which affects the operating parameters of the engine, steering, adaptive cruise control and air conditioning system. When the Eco driving profile is selected, the automatic gearbox is keen to change into the higher gears and acceleration is modest. Fine for relaxed driving but when you get to steep hills, it can take a while to find the right gear and by that time you may have lost some momentum. Also, when the Eco driving profile is selected and you take your foot off the accelerator, the clutch disengages, the engine revs drop to idle and you start coasting! The lack of engine braking takes a bit of getting used to. I always thought it was better to coast in gear because no fuel is required to keep the engine turning. I guess it depends on the situation and personal preference. Like most things on the Golf, you have control over this by using the Driver Profile settings.

No Climatic air conditioning system!

Manual heating controls with air conditioning. No Climatic!
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My one disappointment with the Golf Mk 7 is you no longer have the option of getting the Climatic semi-automatic air conditioning. Your only options are the standard manual heating controls with a button to switch on air conditioning, or the Climatronic full digital 2-zone climate control system. The only thing the Climatic system added over standard manual controls was being able to vary the temperature of air emitted from the vents. So for example, if you had it set to 22C, first thing in a morning when the car interior might be say, 10C it would pump out hot air. But then once the car’s interior has reached 22C it would automatically reduce the temperature of the air emitted so that the car’s interior did not exceed 22C. I found this a great system, removing the need to continually tweak the air temperature knob. This system however appears to have been dropped by Volkswagen towards the end of the Mk 6’s run and continued with the Mk 7's. Shame.

Fuel Efficiency

The 1.6 TDI diesel engine in this car had the same 105bhp that I have in my Mk 5. It’s perhaps a little underpowered in my hatchback and more so in the bigger estate. However, I found it pleasant enough for me. In Normal and particularly Sport driver profiles the engine is a lot more responsive.

Over the 150+ miles I drove in the courtesy car I averaged around 60mpg. This included a fair bit of experimenting with the ACC and the Sport driving profile. So I think once I had gotten used to the car I could easily achieve 65+ mpg regularly.

Final Thoughts

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Final couple of small things I noticed about the Golf Mk 7. LED rear number plate illumination: Much "whiter" light. The Infotainment/radio system can display logos for the individual stations but these were not showing initially. Turns out you have to download them from the German Volkswagen website. (Google’s translation may be helpful.) I would have thought in today’s connected world it should have been able to download these automatically, over the DAB network perhaps?

As I’ve said before, Volkswagen Golf Mk 7 is a great car.

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