For what ought to rank as the latest model’s defining characteristic, the new 1.5-litre engine makes for an unsubstantial presence.
At idle, you can barely hear it, let alone discern a vibration through the control surfaces. At low speeds, it hardly gets any louder, as 59dB at 30mph testifies. That, of course, is a credit to the hard work done on the Golf’s rolling refinement and what feels like a foot-thick wall of sound deadening.
The engine itself proves a chip off the long-established TSI block: persuasively brisk, consistently amenable and, perhaps more so than ever, wilfully parsimonious.It is this need for frugality that arguably best defines the recent evolution of the 1.4-litre unit (the engine producing less outright power than it was a decade ago when Volkswagen employed both a supercharger and a turbocharger).
Despite the marginal increase in displacement, wringing diesel-like economy from the petrol-burning unit is the name of the game, and a 51.7mpg touring figure suggests that the engineers have made good on the time and money invested in the four-pot’s development.
It is sufficient to modestly beat the same-sized engine in the Civic we tested, and returning a 40mpg-plus average in the real world is certainly admirable for a family hatch of this type and performance.