1.4 S & 1.6 FSI Auto SE review

14th April 2006

I got to drive two new Mk V’s recently as courtesy cars whilst my car was at the dealers; a 1.4 S 3-door and a 1.6 FSI Auto SE 5-door, both 2006 models.

The 1.4 (not FSI) is the smallest engine in the Mk V range with 75 bhp but this did not mean that I found it unbearable to drive. It revved quite freely and was relatively quiet. However, the free revving engine could not provide more than brisk acceleration at best.

One thing which was immediately apparent was how much lighter the steering felt. I don’t know if this was because of a different power assisted steering set-up or, more probably, just a result of there being less weight over the front wheels but compared to my own 1.9 TDI, it just much lighter. In some respects this is a good thing with the car feeling nippier from a standing start but at the same time, the car could feel lightweight and less-substantial during a cruise. Overall an engine more suited to city driving than motorway cruises.

Something which surprised me was the amount of road noise. Even though the car had the same Goodyear NCT5 tyres as were on my car originally, the noise was much louder than I’d ever experienced. I had noticed that this S spec car lacked some of the soundproofing under the bonnet which exists on my 1.9 TDI SE-spec car. I wondered if it was a similar reduction in soundproofing elsewhere which might have accounted for the more obvious road noise. However a closer inspection of the wheels reviled the reason. This car has 16” alloys and lower-profile 205/55R16 tyres fitted. They looked very nice and gave the car a more sporting look but I couldn’t live with that level of road noise.

A couple of other things that I noticed. This was the first 2006 model car I’d driven in and liked the new brushed aluminium rather than chrome interior door handles. Whilst the radio was the same RCD 300 unit, the bee-sting aerial rather than the aerial integrated into the rear windscreen appeared to pickup many more stations and the SCAN facility progressed through channels much quicker and with less delay in between which was nice. I also noticed that the rear wash-wipe now did an extra “drip-wipe” in the same manner as the front wipers which I liked. All-in-all, a nice car.

The 1.6 FSI Auto SE was the same spec as my 2005 model 1.9 TDI SE but 2006 models now come with a mid-line multifunction computer, electric rear windows and a 3 spoke steering wheel - all things which would be nice to have in my car. Like my car the 1.6 FSI Auto also had the electrically folding door mirrors but unlike mine also had the centre armrest which did appear to make the interior look a bit more luxurious. How much more useful and practical it would be though I’m not convinced.

The tiptronic Auto gearbox also gave the car a luxurious appearance and it definitely made for leisurely driving. I have enjoyed using auto gearboxes in the past but usually in cars with bigger engines in the United States. This auto gearbox seemed very smooth with almost imperceptible gear changes but it felt a little under-powered and sometimes took a while to decide which of its six gears to select when brisk acceleration was called for. Even whilst cruising at about 60mph it would sometimes change gear for even slight increases in gradient which seemed a little unnecessary in my opinion. As for fuel consumption, the multifunction computer suggested we were achieving around 40mpg on a cruise controlled 70mph cruise, whilst at 56mph we could achieve nearer 50mpg. I didn’t think that was bad for this 1.6 FSI petrol engine running on supermarket 95 RON unleaded.

This car was fitted with standard 195/65R15 tyres and road noise was similar to that experienced in my own Mk V. Generally, another nice car.

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