There’s an engine to suit every taste in the Golf range, and every one we’ve tried is – in its own way – very impressive. The most affordable of these is the lower powered 85 horsepower version of the two turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engines, but it’s worth stepping up to the more powerful 110 horsepower one. It’s not particularly quick, but it’s a lot perkier than you might expect. And with plenty of flexibility thrown in, it makes it a very easy car to live with.
Further up the petrol range are turbocharged 1.4- and 1.5-litre engines, both of which are quick and wonderfully smooth. The 1.5 is especially sweet. Yes, it is prone to the odd stumble as you come on and off the throttle at low revs – no doubt a by-product of limiting emissions – but in truth, only a hopeless pedant will take issue with this. The rest of the time, the engine is creamy smooth, with a strong lust for revs and an impressively linear power delivery right up to the red line.
Both the legendary GTI and bonkers fast R models come with exceptionally strong, smooth 2.0-litre turbo units so, it’s simply a case of just how hot do you need your Golf to be? Diesel choices start with a 1.6-litre unit, which is very flexible if not all that quick, and it could be quieter and smoother, too. The 2.0-litre diesels address these issues, are much more flexible, and throw in a fair bit more pace.
The GTE plug-in hybrid has both a 1.4-litre petrol engine and an electric motor to deliver 201bhp, meaning it has near-hot hatch pace but with unbelievably low running costs. There’s also an all-electric e-Golf, which is eerily quiet and smooth as it fizzes up to speed; and, believe us, it does feel pretty quick, as it responds very quickly when you try and accelerate. Most versions get a slick-shifting manual gearbox as standard, but are also available with a smooth twin-clutch gearbox as an option.
If you're interested in the e-Golf, you might want to check out our favourite electric cars.