Volkswagen Golf 1.5 TSI R-Line Five-door

German-registered Volkswagen Golf R-Line.

There is always a risk, when you write nice things about Volkswagens, that some buffoon is going to accuse you of being putty in the hands of the Beast of Wolfsburg. To forestall this, I’m going to start off by mentioning two aspects of the Golf which do not impress me. First, VW has never, in over forty years, been able to distance itself from the huge rear pillars which some fool thought were a good idea during the design stage of the Mk1. This is usually referred to as…

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Volkswagen Golf GTI Performance DSG Five-door

Tilted action shot of red Volkswagen Golf GTI cornering hard.

A colleague happened to mention, shortly before I climbed aboard the GTI, that he thought it a far superior machine to the Golf R. It would be easy to refute this during a frank and forthright exchange of views over coffee by quoting figures and pointing out the R’s mechanical advantages, but when you actually drive the GTI it’s easy to come round to his point view. At this point, a scamper through Golf history seems appropriate. Volkswagen originally used the GTI badge to denote only high-performance variants. Later, its…

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Volkswagen Amarok 3.0 V6 TDI 224PS Aventura

Ravenna Blue Volkswagen Amarok Aventura on a left-hand corner.

If you have bad memories of driving pickups round about, say, the turn of the century, and fear that things have become no better since, five minutes behind the wheel of the Volkswagen Amarok will persuade you otherwise. Even after an early 2017 facelift it still doesn’t look particularly aggressive as pickups go, yet it is enormously capable in difficult situations, and at the same time beautifully composed in easier ones. No other Amarok is as fast or expensive as the Aventura. Along with one version of the cheaper Highline,…

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Volkswagen Touareg 3.0 TDI 262PS R-Line

Blue Volkswagen Touareg R-Line.

I was in a Volkswagen Touareg when the first named storm of the winter hit the south-west of England. That was when the golden glow of autumn turned into black fury. Hedges thrashed in the gale, falling leaves were mixed with twigs as they barrelled along the lanes of Cornwall. Sheets of rain hurled and spun from sodden, overcast skies. Fields flooded, great tongues of storm-roughened water lapped from ditches into the roads, tractors brought clods of clay onto the carriageway at every gate. For a while, everywhere was mud,…

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Volkswagen Golf R Estate

Tilted front-end view of red Volkswagen Golf R Estate.

In years to come the era we’re living in now may be considered a golden one for the hot hatchback. There are many to choose from, with a wide variety of power outputs, comfort levels and sporting pretensions. Equivalent estate models are far rarer. Honda’s Civic R and Ford’s Focus RS, two of the most talked-about performance cars of their type at present, come in hatchback form only. If you want the same performance level but more practicality, your choice is essentially limited to the recently updated Audi S3 Sportback…

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Volkswagen Golf Match 1.0 TSI BlueMotion Edition

Red Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion on a right-hand corner.

Volkswagen has been using the BlueMotion badge to denote high-economy, low-CO2 vehicles since 2009. At the time, and for six years afterwards, all BlueMotion cars had diesel engines, as seemed inevitable. In the first decade of this century the idea of a non-hybrid petrol car – even an itty-bitty one, never mind something the size of a Golf – getting under the magic 100g/km CO2 figure on the EU test cycle was as unlikely to most people as quantum mechanics would have been to the Phoenicians. Well, you know these…

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Volkswagen Golf Alltrack 2.0 TDI 184PS DSG

Head-on view of a Volkswagen Golf Alltrack on a woodland track.

The Golf Alltrack is a recent example of a type of car first seen in the 1990s. The basic idea is simple: take a conventional estate car you already build, give it four-wheel drive, raise the ride height, add some extra body protection, and there you are with something that might appeal to people who need to do some off-roading but don’t want to be bombarded with cries of, “Oi! Chelsea tractor driver!” when they turn up at the school gates in an SUV. Volkswagen as a brand has come…

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