By Auto Journal Auto Editor

For 2019, the original hot hatchback and the gold standard for the segment – the Volkswagen Golf comes into the new model year with a few changes. Since it first launched in 1975, the Golf – now in its seventh generation – keeps staying a few leaps ahead of the competition, the latest Golf still looks like the Golf we all love, timeless, and serious looking with its boxy unique silhouette, that’s been updated over the years. Over time, Volkswagen has added features, making it an even better car in all areas. What’s new for 2019 is an engine changeover with last year’s 1.8-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder now replaced by the 1.4 litre turbocharged four cylinders with 147 horsepower, down from last years but with a bucket load of more usable torque at 184 lb-ft of torque. There is an improvement in fuel efficiency thanks to the 1.4 L and the addition of an auto stop-start function on automatic transmission cars. Blind spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking, and rear cross-traffic alert are now standard.

We tested an upper level TSI Execline model which adds 17-inch wheels, front foglights, and panoramic power sunroof to the exterior. The interior features: ambient interior lighting, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, heated front sports seats, flat-bottom steering wheel, rear backup camera and a USB audio input. It also comes with: navigation, eight-speaker Fender sound system, proximity key with push-button start, LED daytime running lights, and rain-sensing wipers. Volkswagens Driver Assistance Package ($1750) was an added option, featuring: Adaptive Cruise Control, with Stop Go, Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian  Monitoring, Blind spot Detection with Rear Traffic Alert and Lane Assist.  The base price of the top – line Execline with options came to $33,170. Freight, ac tax and PDI, added another $1,745.

The Golfs interior is a neat, sporty, driver focused place to be. It is simply a wonderful, no-nonsense premium design inside with classic, Teutonic style, straight, neat lines, no fussy detailing. Simple, easy to use rotary knobs and buttons, and a pair of big, easy to read instrument gauges. There’s a nice heft and feel to the operation of all the controls, and everything is placed logically and ergonomically. There is an 8-inch infotainment system screen and the Fender-tuned sound system with eight speakers, and a subwoofer is one of the best in this sector. App smartphone integration with Android Auto and Apple Car play and MirrorLink are featured. Also added was Sirius XM Radio and Satellite Navigation.

The Golf offers ample room for four adults, five at push and 1,492 litres of cargo space with the rear seats down. Headroom is excellent thanks to the tall cabin, while there is ample legroom and shoulder room in all quarters. The as tested model also featured 60/40 split rear seats with center armrest and pass through.

On the road, the 1.4 L engine is full of beans, willing and torque happy. I like the quick power delivery and the snappy acceleration. The engine is best when coupled with the delightful six-speed manual transmission, although the eight-speed Tiptronic automatic is an also very good, and has a manual mode. Handling is exemplary with a stable composed feel and quick reflexes from the steering. No wallowy ride here, the Golf rides firm and composed with good road holding and grip, whichever transmission you go for, the car feels fast, nimble, and a joy to drive. The sportier Golf GTI is the one to get if you really want a quicker Golf. Meanwhile the superlative out and out performance Golf R offers more horsepower at a premium.

The Golf has a certain cache, all round refinement and reputation that is too good to ignore. Its understated timeless design and heritage are key. Not a lot to complain about really.   Volkswagen sell bucket loads of Golfs and you can see why. It offers solid, entertaining driving for sport driver enthusiasts, but still offers five seat capability, decent cargo space, and all the premium creature comforts you could want. Fuel Economy for the 1.4 L is rated at: City 8.2L/100 km / Highway 6.3L/100 km. Upper level Volkswagen Golf’s with options are not the cheapest hatchbacks around, but I would argue the Golf is the best designed, best built, and best engineered with incredible longevity and resale. Volkswagen has done a great job of keeping it competitive in a highly crowded sector.  Full marks and comes highly recommended.

2019 Volkswagen Golf TSI Execline base Priced from $31,420. Price as tested with options: Freight, PDI and AC levy. $34,915.