From October 2008 issue

List price when tested: £16,350
Kerbweight: 1416kg*
85% match: 1204kg
Max towing weight: 1300kg
Towball limit: 75kg
Braking 30-0mph: 10.6m
*Includes 75kg for the driver not included in Volkswagen’s published kerbweight

WE’VE LONG thought that diesels make the best engines if you tow regularly, but Volkswagen is one of a growing number of manufacturers which believe turbocharged petrol engines can offer fuel economy not far short of a diesel’s with better refinement. The 1.4 TSI fitted to the Golf Plus is one of this intriguing new generation.

The TSI’s 148lb.ft of torque is a lot more than you’d expect from an engine of just 1.4 litres, and it’s delivered at a lowly 1500rpm. That helps the Golf Plus tow surprisingly well. Pulling an Avondale Dart 475-4 (MTPLM: 1150kg), the Volkswagen accelerated from 30-60mph in 16.7 seconds.

Little trouble keeping up

On the road, you may need to hold onto a gear for longer or change down slightly more often than with the equivalent diesel, but it’s no great hardship, and we had little trouble keeping up with the ebb and flow of traffic.

We did notice a penalty at the pumps, however. The Golf Plus achieved 22.5mpg around our economy route, which takes in a mixture of motorways, A-roads and town driving. We’ve driven diesels of similar size which have managed closer to 29mpg.

There were no dramas through our lane-change test and we’re pleased to note that the car comes with a Trailer Stability Programme to help correct any snaking.

More space inside

Inside, as the name implies the Golf Plus is like a Golf, only with more space. Headroom is noticeably better and the rear seat can be slid forward on runners to improve luggage space. With the seats fully rearward, there’s 395 litres. Fold the seats away and that increases to 1450 litres.

Some rivals may cost less than the Volkswagen, but resale values are predicted to be healthy.

We say
Towing: 4/5
Solo: 4/5
Practicality: 4/5
Buying & owning: 4/5

Verdict: 4/5 – Proof that diesels aren’t the only good towcars.

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