* Or Golfs. Take your pick.

This brown one:

And this white one. Note the E at the end of the number, because it has a significance.


I was in eastern Germany and (briefly) Poland last week and drove both.

Let’s begin with the brown one, as it happens the first VW I’ve ever driven. It’s a 1.5 petrol with seven speed dry clutch DSG and a higher level of toys than I was expecting - heated seats, sat nav, adaptive cruise control, cylinder deactivation and the world’s most aggressive stop/start.


It went generally very well indeed. Gearchanges were usually imperceptible and at the same time faster than with a torque converter automatic, there was enough power to do me, it was very quiet at speed. I thought I detected a slight judder from the starting clutch at times and the stop/start was, well, interesting. It stopped the engine at every imaginable opportunity especially going downhill at speed and just about each time I lifted the pedal at lower speeds so when driving through towns you hear the starter going every few seconds. At higher speeds it was a bit cleverer and restarted by just engaging whichever clutch was doing duty at the time. Oddly enough it had a tendency to switch off as you stopped in traffic and then restart for no obvious reason (it also used the ACC radar to detect when the car in front was moving off and so starting was going to be needed).

It was my first time with ACC and I was surprised by how aggressively it would apply the brakes and select a lower gear when I approached slower traffic.


Also surprising, and not in a good way, was fuel economy. This is a car with high gearing, ACT and start stop so it should have been very mean with fuel. Was it? By way of comparison, a couple of years ago I borrowed my father’s Focus for a long journey. Same size car, no economy aids, six speed manual but a diesel. It managed 69 mpg (Imperial). The Golf, with its clever fuel saving kit? 46 mpg. Not bad, but anyone who claims that petrol cars are approaching the fashionably demonised diesel is on this evidence dreaming.

Then there was the white one, borrowed as part of a demo run by VW at their glass factory in Dresden. Remember that E in the number? Yes, it was an eGolf. Just like the petrol one, but with added electrons. It was as you would expect. Quiet (but not silent, it whined slightly), instant acceleration, somewhat blandly efficient. It’s the future I suppose but hardly an exciting one.