VW Golf GTE – It’s time to make a stink about polluting cars and buy hybrid


June 23 If you want another reason why petrol-electric hydrid cars should be the future, just read today’s story from the BBC stating ‘diesel cars more polluting below 18C’   http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-36589106.

New research suggests many popular diesel cars are worse when the temperature is below 18C. If it wasn’t for the EU referendum, this would be the lead story – and it stinks!

I’m not the ‘greenest’ person in town but I do get the feeling there’s a lot more we don’t get told about the polluting nature of the cars we drive. VW, of course, are in the thick of it with their ‘issues’ but at least the Golf GTE is a breath of fresh air.

There are plenty of hybrids around that offer the same package but the GTE is also great fun to drive, beautifully built and, yes, cool!

It’s my last day with the Golf. It’s not cheap and economy peaks at 44mpg but I can’t help but like it. Would I buy one over a performance Golf R? Not sure living in the country but if I lived in London then a definite ‘yes’.

I think the VW Golf R needs a bit more razzamatazz to its styling…


Is there a mid-life crisis going on at Car Couture? I’ve actually been considering a red sports car, then last month I bought a Belstaff leather jacket and now, to cap it all, I’m thinking the Golf R needs a bit more razzamatazz.

It’s not the performance – this is a hot hatchback like no other. No, it’s the rather bland styling and soul-less profile that welcomes me to the driveway every morning.

Of course, the Golf GTI was never a stand-out model in the car park. You can leave that naff bling to Renault and Ford with their offerings. But even so, there’s no much to excite the eye with the R.

Apart from the lack of leather seats as standard (surely at this price?), it’s the only fault I have with the R.

A truly brilliant 5-door that does nothing to announce your arrival but gets you there and back in thoroughly entertaining style…

The latest Golf R is a guaranteed future classic


I’ve grown up with the Volkswagen Golf – it’s not quite as old as me but I can remember when the first ‘German hatchback’ arrived back in 1974. It was named the Rabbit in America. Weird.

The Golf arrived in November, the month John Lennon played on stage with Elton John in New York and the Rubik’s Cube was first invented. Somebody had also dreamt up a game called Dungeons & Dragons…

Those early Mk I Golfs are now collector’s items and the R we’re driving this week is destined to be the same. It has cult status written all over it – backed up by the tag of the fastest ever Golf.

If you are saving up for a GTI my advice is save a bit longer and get the R. Few cars are guaranteed to have such a following in the future…



In the mood for a Golf R? Let the funky lighting show you the way


It’s called mood lighting. I still think Range Rover do it best – flashing a circle of light from underneath the door mirror onto the ground when you click the key fob. On the road it reads ‘Range Rover’. Cool.

Most mood lighting takes place inside the cabin though. Volkswagen has equipped the R with a vibrant blue strip along the kick plate as you step in – plus the same across the top of the door.

I’m all for mood lighting (in the Beetle, the colours can be changed depending on your ‘mood’ with a rotating dial) but it’s a bit bling if you like your Golf to be low key and ‘under the wire’.

And nobody buys a Golf to make a big statement, do they? Even the R is the most underplayed, hot hatchback you can buy. Consider what Renault has done to the Megane RS 265 for example – eek!

The VW Golf R is a future classic waiting to happen…


A friend of mine collects Mark I Golf convertibles in France – he has five stored in his barn. Over the years, the following six incarnations have brought us to this version.

Just like the Porsche 911, there have been good and bad models (996? Eeek!) but the Golf has generally been regarded as the benchmark hatchback for some 40 years now.

So as my friend begins August at his local car rally (the French like old cars as much as we do), he’ll no doubt be reading this and considering the R as the future classic Golf to buy and collect.

And because the fastest Golf ever is the R, this immediately gives it cult status. Over the next 20 years, the secondhand price of the R will dip like any other vehicle. But in 2035, this hatchback is going to be a classic.

If we can still buy petrol by then, this will likely also be considered as the finest ever hatchback…

The VW Golf R is a car for grown up hooligans. You have been warned…


A car for grown ups? A car for grown up hooligans more like. The R won’t turn many heads in the high street but it will gain your passenger’s attention pretty quickly.

Just 24 hours into the R test and I could have been hit with a brace of ASBOs.

Here’s a hatchback that your granny could drive to Waitrose for years before realising just what was under the bonnet. It’s not a Jekyll and Hyde car, it’s THE Jekyll and Hyde car.

Sensible on the outside, it has the ability to cut lose if you are up for some flat out fun. Purists might think the R is too sanitised compared to hot Golfs of old. Ignore them. I’ve driven every generation and nothing comes close…

The VW Passat GT estate we have on test this week is far too slick and sporty to gain my late father’s approval.


I could never persuade my father to buy an exciting car. I grew up in a succession of Datsun 120Ys and Vauxhall Vivas. The most exciting wheels we ever saw on the family driveway was a Citroen CX saloon – the one with the self-centering steering wheel.

The CX with the crazy hydropneumatic suspension was eventually stolen and found burnt out – which only further proved my father’s point that it was pointless buying a flash car.

In desperation I took him to see a secondhand VW Passat. It ticked all the boxes and was suitably dreary enough not to offend him. It didn’t work – possibly because it was built in Germany and he was funny about stuff like that.

Fortunately, he wasn’t looking at the GT estate model we have on test this week. It’s far too slick and sporty to gain his approval. It’s not as bling as the latest Mondeo but at least designers in this day and age built cars that look even more desirable than a Citroen CX saloon.

You might think that the latest VW Passat is having something of a mid-life crisis to coincide with mine.


Does my bum look big in this? No, I thought not. The Passat may have a 650-litre boot that swells to 1780-litres with the back seats folded flat but it still manages to contend for the rear of the year in the estate category.

In fact, the changes to this eight generation model are so subtle that it’s only the rear view that gives the games away. Check out those neat, slit-eyed exhaust slots on either side – as pretty as a Jaguar XF estate.

With four-wheel drive and 237bhp of power on tap in the Bi TDI, this may lead you to think that the latest Passat is having something of a mid-life crisis to coincide with mine.

Not so. The car doesn’t have the sporty edge of a BMW 3 Series and still feels like, well, a Passat. It’s a brilliant buy, hugely practical and well screwed together but there’s still a dollop of excitement missing in the driving experience…

The latest VW Passat is really just a larger Golf with a boot…


I suppose that if I needed any further proof as to how good the Passat is then I just had to take the word of the judges from the European Car of Year. The Passat won by 92 votes – the largest margin in years.

Dragging along in second place was the Citroen Cactus (reviewed elsewhere on Car Couture), with the Ford Mondeo way back in fourth (we’d love to test Fords but unlike 40 other manufacturers who load us cars they don’t appear to know what a motoring blog is!).

It was the biggest victory margin in years, with the voting team giving VW’s sensible family car all round praise. Notable that British judges opting for the Citroen Cactus instead. Weird.

The biggest accolade I can give the Passat is that it is really a Golf with a boot but in larger form. And perhaps that’s all you need to know because there’s no better hatchback out there than the Golf…

VW Golf GTI Performance Pack – Why LSD Can Be Good For Your Driving Skills!


If you want one very good reason to opt for the Performance Pack it should be the one that is the least obvious – the limited slip differential, which is a first for the GTI.

Now, most LSDs are mechanical devices, designed to stop the driven wheels scrabbling for grip when you start to lose it on a corner.

However, the VW system is a much cleverer affair that is electronically controlled. All you need to know is that it works exceptionally well and saves embarrassing tyre squeal at junctions too!

All GTIs have incredible traction anyway but the Performance Pack takes raises the bar, especially if you like to drive your Golf hard and enjoy the occasional track day…