2009 Volkswagen Golf | road test

Posted on Mar 3, 2009 by

The is one of the best-selling cars ever.

Since the Mk1 was introduced in 1974 the little hatchback has become ’s most popular machine and the third best-selling car in the world.

The latest machine, the Mk6, follows the critically acclaimed Mk5, introduced in 2003, which itself followed the rather lacklustre Mk4. So the new car has a lot to live up to. And it succeeds, brilliantly. The 2009 Golf takes all the positive features of the older VW and runs with them, creating a car that will be hard to better for the price and size. It’s well-made, handsome, feels good to sit in and to drive, and is packed with features.

Rather understandably, Volkswagen has played it safe with the design. In these troubled financial times, the 2009 Golf is its safe bet and VW is not about to impact sales by coming up with some radical new design on the car. Therefore both exterior and interior are recognisably Golf.

The key focuses have been on increased efficiency from the engine range – with reduced environmental impact and better fuel consumption – and noise reduction.

Outside, the 2009 Golf has been completely redesigned but retains some key features seen through all the Golf models, most notably the grille design and headlight layout. There’s a definite hint of the sportier Scirocco model in the looks, which is no bad thing. The headlights are rather dashing, with three different sized lamps against a contrasting black background, and the new, wide rear lights are reminiscent of the Touareg SUV.

Inside, anyone familiar with the Mk5 Golf will instantly feel at home. It’s definitely more of an evolution than a revolution, but the overriding feeling of quality remains. The build is excellent and the materials used feel solid to the touch. Some features, like the centre console, remain virtually identical to the previous Golf, while others are familiar but in a slightly different place, such as the window and electric mirror controls. New features in the car include round instruments on the dashboard and the air conditioning controls, are lifted from the more upmarket VW – the Passat CC, and adds to an air of quality established by some very solid feeling materials and craftsmanship that one comes to expect from Volkswagen cars these days.

One of the most important changes in our view is the redesigned rear view mirror, which have much better visibility than the Mk5 Golf – one of our very few quibbles with the last generation of car. No longer do you need to shift position to see what’s behind you in any detail.

Other important points – the steering wheel adjusts for both reach and rake and the driver’s seat can be tweaked for height and angle. You should have no trouble adjusting the already comfy seats of this car to the perfect set up. There’s plenty of room for three people in the back and a decent-sized boot for luggage and groceries.

The engine line-up on this car may cause a few heads to be scratched in the Arab markets, where size is king. Size of engine is normally directly linked to power, but things are different with the 2009 Golf. Two engines are available in the GCC – a 1.6-litre unit with 102bhp and a 1.4-litre with 160bhp. Yes, the smaller engine has the most power, thanks to some clever technology that uses both a supercharger and a turbocharger to give the little lump the kind of character and power normally found in a much bigger unit. The advantage of this tech, called TSI, is that less fuel is burned than the Mk5’s 150bhp engine, despite the power increase. The 2009 Golf feels strong with power available throughout the rev range. If you didn’t know otherwise, you’d swear it was a 1.8-litre displacement or greater.



The engines are linked to a new seven-speed version of Volkswagen’s twin clutch gearbox, called DSG. This technology has been around for some time, and uses one clutch for even-numbered gears and the other for odd. This means very fast, very quick gear changes and additional savings on fuel. It has a full automatic mode, a sporty mode, which uses more of the rev range, and a manual mode as well.

On the road, the 2009 Golf is really good. The engineers have put a lot of effort into reducing wind noise in the car – thanks to some clever insulating film on the glass and new door seals – and it works very well. It’s entirely possible to have a whispered conversation at motorway speeds.

Although this is far from a sports car, it handles far better than a family hatch should, remaining stable through swift corners and with plenty of feel through the steering. There’s a touch of wallow from the Michelin Energy Saver tyres if you really get carried away, but then this is not the Golf GTI – that comes later in 2009, for those seeking more thrills.

Both three-door and five-door hatchback versions of the 2009 Golf will be available in three trim levels – Trendline, Comfortline and Highline.

Trendline features 15-inch steel wheels, with wheel trims, fabric seats and a knee airbag – a feature not often found on cars of this level.

The Comfortline model adds 16-inch steel wheels, rear cupholders, height adjustment for the passenger seat and lumbar support for both driver and front passenger. It also features a leather-covered steering wheel and gearknob, front centre armrest and floor mats, as well as parking sensors.

The top-end Highline model adds 17-inch alloy wheels, Alcantara sports seats and front fog lights as well as dual-zone climate control and a multi-function trip computer.

Prices start at around 74,000dhs for the 1.6-litre and 80,000dhs for the 1.4-litre version.

Competition by the price point will be with the likes of Ford’s Focus and the Peugeot 308.

Even the most basic Golf looks good, handles well, seats five people in comfort and has a decent-sized boot. It thoroughly deserves to sell as well as its predecessors.

* Prices are indicative and may vary at the time of purchase. All prices are ex-Dubai showrooms. Please check with your local dealer for current prices and offers.


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