Looking for the best value in the seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf? Try the Match Edition trim level. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.
Ten Second Review
The Volkswagen Golf Match Edition is a car that does the simple stuff really well. Aside from all the benefits that come with owning a Golf, essentially, it offers the satellite navigation system that was an expensive extra on the previous 'Match' model for virtually no increase in cost. That makes it a winner in our book.
The MK7 Golf model has done pretty well for Volkswagen and the majority of sales have come from the value-laden 'Match' models that from launch, the Wolfsburg brand inserted at the foot of the range. The only issue that buyers baulked a little at was having to find quite a bit more to get their cars fitted with satellite navigation - a key fitment for many customers. In the current climate, Volkswagen can't afford to lose such folk, hence the replacement of the 'Match' trim level by the 'Match Edition' spec we're going to look at here. Sure enough, Navigation is included as standard: in fact, we're talking around £1,100 of extra equipment value for a price increase that VW says has been limited to around £100. Sounds reasonable.
Golf Match Edition trim isn't designed to offer the most powerful engines or the sharpest ride. It's designed for value and as such, the engine selection has been carefully chosen to appeal to buyers who want no-nonsense, cost-effective motoring. As a result, Match Edition buyers get the choice of a 1.0 TSI or 1.4-litre TSI petrol engines, which develop either 115PS or 125PS, or alternatively there's a pair of diesels. Go for the 1.6-litre TDI and you get 110PS under the bonnet or there's the range-topping 2.0-litre TDI diesel which develops a healthy 150PS. There's also the option of a DSG auto gearbox.
Get under the skin of this current seventh generation Golf and you'll find a chassis that's very stiff and almost infinitely customisable. Cabin refinement has improved enormously over that of previous generation versions, with very little road noise filtering back into the cabin. In fact, tyre noise and engine sounds have also been muted to the sort of level you'd have expected from a Phaeton limousine not so long ago. All Match Edition models get variable drive settings (Eco, Sport, Normal and Individual) and this results in a car that can entertain or cosset as required.
Design and Build
Despite this being a value-oriented model, you wouldn't guess to look at the Match Edition's exterior. It rides on a respectable set of Dover 16-inch alloys and there are none of the old stunts Volkswagen used to pull in order to 'encourage' you to hit the options list. In other words you won't find poverty-spec black plastic door handles or manually-adjustable mirrors. The Match Edition gets front and rear parking sensors, front fog lights and a mirror pack, which consists of automatically-folding door mirrors with puddle lights and reverse-activated dipping on the nearside.
The driving position is almost unfeasibly adjustable and unlike many family hatches, you can get properly hunkered down in the car if required. The sheer amount of steering wheel rake and reach means that both shorter and taller drivers will have little difficulty achieving a perfect seating position. The cabin's a little wider these days, which helps with elbow room and there's also decent rear leg room which is a welcome touch. The boot measures a hefty 380-litres, is well shaped and features a low loading sill and a ski hatch for accommodating longer items.
Market and Model
You can see why Golf byers would go for a 'Match Edition' model rather than the entry-level 'S' variant. For no more than around £400 extra, they're getting an awful lot more in terms of equipment. Prices start at around £20,000 and there's a choice of either three or five-door bodystyles. The key change in this Golf's evolution from, 'Match' to 'Match Edition' status is the addition of sat nav. And not just any sat nav system. The 'Discover Navigation' set-up includes a 6.5-inch colour touch-screen control system for navigation, CD, Bluetooth 'phone and DAB radio functions. The navigation bit boasts preloaded European navigation data, two map view options, three calculated routes (Fast, Short, Eco), dynamic navigation based on TMC live traffic updates, branded points of interest and Traffic Sign display, and also features Car-Net Guide and Inform online services.
The Car-Net Guide and Inform system you also get as standard neatly combines engaging functions such as Online Traffic Information, Personal Point Of Interest, News and Weather updates, and Fuel Info and Parking Info.
All of this is on top of the kit list the previous 'Match' versions already boasted. That gives you 16-inch 'Dover' alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, air conditioning, front fog lights and a mirror pack - which consists of automatically-folding door mirrors with puddle lights and reverse-activated dipping on the nearside.
Other standard features include ACC Adaptive Cruise Control with Front Assist and City Emergency Braking, a Driver Alert System, PreCrash preventive occupant protection, auto headlights and wipers, an automatically dimming rear-view mirror and a Driver Profile Selection system that allows you to tweak steering, throttle and stability control thresholds to suit the way you want to drive. Safety-wise, all Golf models come as standard with seven airbags, including a driver's knee airbag. Plus there's ABS braking, ESC stability control, an XDS electronic differential lock for extra cornering traction, an automatic post-collision braking system and Isofix preparation for two rear child seats.
Cost of Ownership
A value model with thirsty engines would seem to be a bit of a non-starter but it's surprising how many car manufacturers try to palm off old and inefficient engines as part of their discounting schemes. Fortunately there's really not a bad engine in the whole Match Edition line up. The 1.4-litre TSI 125PS petrol engine doesn't get the clever cylinder cut technology of the 140PS 1.4-litre unit but even without it, you'll see 54.3mpg on the combined cycle when paired with a manual gearbox and 120g/km of CO2. Team it with the DSG transmission and those numbers edge out to 56.5mpg and 116g/km. Go for the frugal 1.0 TSI BlueMotion models and you can expect 65.7mpg and 99g/km.
The diesels are predictably excellent in their efficiency, with the 1.6-litre 110PS unit achieving up to 74.3mpg and emissions as low as 99g/km. Somewhat curiously, the DSG gearbox here adds a few grams per kilometre, something you'll need to bear in mind if you're attracted to that sub-100g/km figure. The much more powerful 2.0-litre diesel doesn't fare much worse either, recording a best of 68.9mpg and 106g/km. The Golf Mk 7 achieves these numbers by being subject to a serious weight loss plan. Then there are aerodynamic advantages, lower internal friction in the engines, and optimised gearing on not only the five and six speed manuals but also the six and seven speed DSG twin clutch units. All Golf Match Edition models come with a Stop/Start system as standard, along with battery regeneration.
We've put our cards on the table and come out as big adherents for the Volkswagen Golf Mk 7 in the past and the Match Edition version doesn't change the basic script all that much. If you had your eye on the car already, it might be that the addition of standard navigation at this level could make the difference to your buying decision.
Overall then, a measured package that works. Yes, the extra Match Edition kit would add up if you were to try to specify it separately, but the brilliance of this car is not in the trimmings. It runs a whole lot deeper than that, which is why it earns our solid recommendation.