2013 Volkswagen Golf 90TSI Comfortline DSG Review

Overall Rating

  • Interior

  • On The Road

  • Ancap

  • Value For Money

  • See Full Specs

What’s Hot

Premium interior, excellent ride, comfortable back seat, strong torque.

What’s Not

DSG refinement at low speed.

X Factor

Premium car feel for small car money, plus it’s a pretty sharp drive.

  • Country of Origin
  • Price
    $27,490 (plus on-road costs)
  • Engine
    4 Cylinders
  • Output
    90 kW / 200 Nm
  • Transmission
    Sports Automatic Dual Clutch
  • ANCAP Rating
  • Airbags
    Driver & Passenger (Dual), Knee Driver, Head for 2nd Row Seats, Side for 1st Row Occupants (Front), Head for 1st Row Seats (Front)
  • L/100 km
  • C02
    126 g/km
  • Luggage Capacity
  • Towing (braked)
    1400 kg
  • Towing (unbraked)
    620 kg
Tony O'Kane | Jul 25, 2013 | 21 Comments


Vehicle Style: Small five-door hatchback
Price: $27,490 (plus on-roads)

Engine/transmission: 1.4 litre petrol turbo/seven-speed DSG automatic
Power/torque: 90kW/200Nm
Fuel Economy claimed: 5.4 l/100km | tested: 7.7 l/100km


We were mightily impressed by the seventh-generation Golf at launch, lauding it for not only its interior, handling and willing engines, but also for its keener pricing.

We’ve now had a chance to live for a week with the mid-grade Golf 90 TSI DSG.

Despite Volkswagen having a bit of work to do to reassure customers that it has solved reliability issues with the DSG, this is a very enjoyable and dynamic car from behind the wheel.

So, yes, we’re more than happy to heap praise upon its interior finish, style and handling. On the road, the only downside exposed by our testing regimen is a snatchy driveline that’s less than happy in a slow traffic jam.


Quality: It’s an impeccably-built interior, and easily one of the most impressive in the small car segment - we reckon only the Audi A3 has a finer cabin finish.

Besides the all-new switchgear, there are lots of soft-touch plastics and upholstered surfaces and everything joins up together superbly. Top marks for quality.

Comfort: The Golf’s manually-adjusted seats are nicely sculpted for support and comfort. There’s a wide range of adjustment to the front seats and steering column, so getting settled behind the wheel is no challenge.

There’s also a footrest for your right foot, a handy feature for long highway stints.

Thanks to a stretch in its wheelbase length, the Golf’s back seat now rates as one of the more comfortable rear benches in the segment.

Although not wide enough for three adults, the outboard seats are shaped for good back and thigh support, and headroom is plentiful. Rear air-outlets are also standard, a rarity in this segment.

Equipment: The Golf 90 TSI Comfortline has a healthy list of standard equipment.

Among the usual features of power windows and auto-on headlamps, there’s dual-zone climate control, automatic wipers, cruise control, trip computer, speed limiter, front and rear parking sensors plus reversing camera.

The wing mirrors are also heated (handy during Melbourne’s recent spell of frosty weather).

Bluetooth telephony and audio streaming is standard, and controlled via a slick 5.8-inch touchscreen. Sat-nav is offered for an extra $950 on the Comfortline model grade.

There’s also a USB audio input in the centre console, and the audio headunit is fully iPod integrated..

Storage: The boot has grown 30 litres over the previous generation, measuring in at 380 litres with the rear seats up.

The Golf’s two-position boot floor can be lowered to accept taller items, or raised to make the floor flush with the loading lip (and provide a useful storage area beneath).

Rear seats down, you get 1270 litres of cargo room.


Driveability: The Golf 90 TSI’s 1.4 litre inline four produces just 90kW of power, well below the output of most of its larger-engined competitors.

However, thanks to a turbocharger, it also produces 200Nm of torque, which is above average for a small car and quite a handy number for a car weighing a little over 1200kg.

Torque equals tractability, and the Golf 90 TSI doesn’t need its neck wrung to deliver decent pace.

Our tester had the optional seven-speed DSG twin-clutch auto. While it’s a slick-shifting unit when the car is underway, it’s much less smooth when moving away from standstill (a familiar gripe).

It also lacks driveline refinement when crawling through heavy traffic. Alternating between the brake and accelerator at speeds less than 5km/h confuses the transmission, with the result being jerky progress.

We also didn’t get anywhere near close to the Golf’s claimed fuel consumption figure.

Volkswagen claims the 90 TSI DSG will average 5.4 l/100km, but the best we got after a week of motoring was 7.6 l/100km.

Refinement: Beyond some road noise from the tyres on coarse bitumen, the Golf’s interior is ultra quiet. However, the start-stop system is sometimes a tad slow to re-light the engine.

Suspension: The Golf 90 TSI achieves that fine balance between comfort and cornering capability, with a suspension that is neither too firm nor too floppy - Goldilocks would surely approve.

Grip is reassuring, and, when pushed, the Golf corners crisply and with gusto (no ploughing-on understeer here). It also rides smoothly over average suburban roads and is unruffled by potholes.

The electrically-assisted steering doesn’t offer too much in the way of tactile feedback, but the rack is direct and accurate.

Braking: The brakes are strong, but the pedal is quite grabby near the top of its travel. A typical Volkswagen trait.


ANCAP rating: Five stars. The Golf 7 Scored 35.92 points out of a possible 37.

Safety features: Standard safety kit includes stability control, traction control, ABS, EBD and brake assist.

There’s seven airbags in total (dual front, dual front side, full-length curtain and driver’s knee), while all occupants get three-point seatbelts and adjustable headrests. The rear bench is also equipped with two ISOFIX anchorages.


Warranty: Three years, unlimited kilometres.

Service costs: Under VW’s capped price servicing scheme, the cost of a standard service ranges from $292 to $499. Service intervals are every 12 months/15,000km.

The capped price scheme applies to all new Golfs for the first six years or 90,000km of ownership.


Ford Focus Sport Powershift ($28,190) - The Focus has razor-sharp steering and exceptional handling, but isn’t quite as spacious in the back as the Volkswagen.

Its interior, while smart, lacks the refined style of the Golf, but the Focus’ 2.0 litre naturally aspirated engine has a more muscular 125kW and 202Nm to call upon. (see Focus reviews)

Opel Astra hatch 1.4 ($23,990) - The Astra develops a stout 103kW and 200Nm from its 1.4 litre turbo four, giving it a slight edge in performance.

However, in base petrol form the Astra hatch is only available as a manual, which hurts its appeal when most buyers opt automatics. It also feels dated inside compared to the better-finished Golf. (see Astra reviews)

Toyota Corolla Levin SX auto ($25,990) - The Corolla lags the Golf for interior finish and overall refinement. It’s not as torquey either, although the Corolla’s peak power of 103kW does trump the Golf’s 90kW.

The Corolla’s key advantage is in value for money and a bullet-proof reputation. Not only is it cheaper by $1.5k, but it also comes standard with sat-nav and 17-inch alloys. (see Corolla reviews)

Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.


I don’t think I’ve ever awarded a car five stars for its interior before, but boy does the Golf 7 deserve it.

Even in mid-grade models, the Golf’s cabin exudes quality. It is surely the new benchmark for small cars under $40,000.

The Golf’s handling and ride comfort also impressed greatly. Again, the Golf has defined what a truly “sorted” suspension should feel like.

But unfortunately, the DSG automatic’s low-speed refinement spoils this pretty picture. It’s simply too abrupt and at times too indecisive for a commuter car.

The Golf has lost a lot of ground in recent months, mostly it would seem to the robust Ford Focus - that's what a question mark over long term reliability will do.

But dealers will be prepared 'to talk' at the moment - you should be able to swing some decent savings your way - and there are lots of good reasons to keep the Golf on your radar: an army of loyal enthusiast owners being one of them.

If you can deal with the small premium over most of its competitors, the Golf 7 90 TSI demands your attention.

Pricing (excludes on-road costs)

  • 2013 Golf 90TSI 6 Speed Manual - $21,490
  • 2013 Golf 90TSI 7 Speed DSG - $23,990
  • 2013 Golf 90TSI Comfortline 6 Speed Manual - $24,990
  • 2013 Golf 90TSI Comfortline 7 Speed DSG - $27,490
  • 2013 Golf 103TSI Highline 7 Speed DSG - $31,990
  • 2013 Golf 110TDI Highline 6 Speed DSG - $34,490


  • Metallic / Pearl Effect paint - $500
  • Driver assistance package - Comfortline & Highline - $1300
  • Discover Media satellite navigation system - Comfortline (Std Highline) $950
  • Panoramic electric glass sunroof - Highline - $1,850
  • Bi-Xenon headlights with LED daytime driving lights - Highline - $2,150
  • Vienna leather appointed upholstery - Highline - $2,950
  • Anti-theft alarm system - Comfortline & Highline - $600

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Filed under: Volkswagen, Featured, review, volkswagen golf, petrol, dsg, hatch, automatic, fwd, small, family, Advice, special-featured, 5door, 7a, 5seat, available, 20-25k, 2013my

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  • Mark Sanders says,
    2 years ago
    I am constantly surprised at the comments about the low speed snatchiness of VW's DSG boxes.

    My mate's earlier GTI and R32 6 speeders were a little grabby off the line, but my Boxster with the technically similar PDK transmission was great. 2 months ago I swam against the tide of critism and purchased a new 7 speed DSG Polo TSI as an everyday car, - every bit as smooth as the Porsche box off the line and incredibly smooth and instant up and down the gears at speed.

    Seriously this is not slush box technology. It is a manual transmission with automated dual clutches. It provides the best manual style overide on the market. If you can't tolerate feeling the clutches gently engage off the line then choose a slush box - better than that try a CVT - that may be more to your liking!
    • Lang Chye says,
      2 years ago
      1 like
      Agree. We've a Golf & Polo, both with DSG and don't have any issue with them
  • CAZZO says,
    2 years ago
    I would *TRY* and like this is it was more durable, if it had a CVT or normal g/box, MUCH longer warranty, STD. ULP, and a garenteed buy back program, NOBODY at the wholesale auctions wants to bid on them

    Gut feeling, buy Asian, or wait for the 2014 CK Lancer
  • Mark Smith says,
    2 years ago
    Had one of these as a loaner while my Golf was being fixed.

    Had an annoying buzz in the dash with only 1500kms on the clock. Removed all out of glovebox. Still there.

    Banged on the dash. Buzz gone.


    Other than that, it was a great drive.
  • Able says,
    2 years ago
    My brother bought a 90TSI Comfortline DSG for $27k driveaway a couple a weeks ago and apart from a few teething issues it's a great little car.

    I still much prefer my MkV Sportline though!
    • JMOO says,
      1 year ago
      Hi, did he buy a manual or DOG for that price?
  • rlm says,
    2 years ago
    After owning a Golf MK VI for nearly 4 years and 50000 Km cannot fault the DSG a fantastic transmission. I think some people cannot understand the technology for them get a manual, standard auto or CVT but so boring compared to a DSG, give me a DSG any day!
    • FrugalOne says,
      2 years ago
      After owning a Golf MK VI for nearly 4 years and 50000 Km cannot fault the DSG a fantastic transmission. I think some people cannot understand the technology for them get a manual, standard auto or CVT but so boring compared to a DSG, give me a DSG any day!

      Std tranny and CVT might well be boring, but they are NOT coved in glory of recalls, criminal action and buy backs like dsg...laughlaughlaugh
      • Mark Sanders says,
        2 years ago
        I'm with you Cazzo.

        VW have probably put more DSG boxes on the road than all other manufacturers combined. They have been doing them for over 8 years. Sure there are issues with some pre 2011 boxes and now all VW's have a 5 year transmission warranty. Either they have fixed it or they are about to commit commercial suicide.

        I would rather enjoy a DSG for five years than die of boredom listening to the drone of a CVT for 5 minutes.

        Mind you, this has got a little "off topic". The point I was making (see top of the comments column) is why do road testers expect that a DSG box should feel the same off the line as a box with a torque converter?
      • rlm says,
        2 years ago
        Std tranny and CVT might well be boring, but they are NOT coved in glory of recalls, criminal action and buy backs like dsg...laugh

        I driven a Honda Civic CVT recently and boring was the word, I'll say it again I have a DSG and it's terrific, before that an HSV traditional auto, DSG leaves it for dead and CVT is a non starter. Take off the blinkers you may just educate yourself.

    • Ian says,
      2 years ago
      hey could you please say where your brother bought the car? i am currently getting quotes around 27500.
  • Chest Rockjaw says,
    2 years ago
    The Golf wins the perceived quality in the showroom hands down, doors close with a solid thunk too. This is why I have owned 2 of them, I recently sold my Golf and purchased a Honda Civic VTiL hatch. Why not another Rolf? New one is just too boring to look at and I'm over all of the niggles and issues, I just want things to work. The Honda offers a decent value alternative.
  • David says,
    2 years ago
    If you're going to average 7.6l/100km why would you opt for a 1.4 litre buzzbox that will drive you crazy on the motorway and burn itself out in quick time? You can dress up a small engine as you wish but it's still a small engine - though in this case a more highly stressed small engine.
    • CAZZO says,
      2 years ago
      If you're going to average 7.6l/100km why would you opt for a 1.4 litre buzzbox that will drive you crazy on the motorway and burn itself out in quick time? You can dress up a small engine as you wish but it's still a small engine - though in this case a more highly stressed small engine.

      Garbage as it is, and small sized, i would bet my balls that you could thrash the engine and it and would do 500,000km with no dramas

      Engines are WAYYYYYYYY overbuilt, how many cars you see on the side of the road like in the old days...none

      Pity all the rest of the vehicle will have *issues*

  • MotorMouth says,
    2 years ago
    Two weeks ago I finally got to drive a DSG equipped car, a Polo 77TSI, and I have to say I really don't get it. To me it seemed every bit as dopey as a slushbox, taking a second or so to kick down when I planted the accelerator pedal coming out of a corner. Maybe it is better in "manual" mode but if you leave it in Drive it feels just like any other auto. It was a nice car in many respects and for a while I thought I was going to have to swallow my pride and buy one. Thank Dog the Rio SLS was just as impressive in many ways - power, handling, refinement (you cannot hear or feel the SLS's 1.6 GDI engine at idle, something every person who has been in mine has commented on) - and offers more kit for less money.

    Anyway, while I was at the VW dealer I had a chance to check out the new Golf for the first time and I have to say it has the most hideous interior of any car I've seen recently. It's mix of matte and glossy surfaces is absolutely bloody awful. The seats are terrific, unlike Polo's flat pews, but I really couldn't imagine spending any time inside that disgusting cabin, no matter how great the quality of the materials or their fit and finish, neither of which jump out at you in any way.
  • MotorMouth says,
    2 years ago
    Another thing to watch for with VW's is on-road costs. As I said, I was quite interested in a Polo for a while, so I got them to give me a quote and the Dealer Delivery charge was $2,990! As one of my neighbours said, that's the most expensive car wash in history. So don't be taken in by the allure of $21,490 for the 6-speed manual, it will equate to about $27,000 on the road. (The Polo was $19,990 - 6 speed with sports suspension - and it ended up being over 25 grand on the road.)
    • Lang Chye says,
      2 years ago
      Engage a car broker. We paid $24k on the road for a Polo 77TSi Comfortline with DSG
      • MotorMouth says,
        2 years ago
        So you got someone else to make their profit on top of the dealer's? More fool you, you still paid 3 grand more than I did for a Rio SLS that's better in every way.
        • guest says,
          2 years ago
          Except that the Polo isn't a Kia.
          • Balthazaaaaargh says,
            2 years ago
            1 like
            Lucky for Kia...
        • Wayno says,
          2 years ago
          Are you series, the only reason somebody would buy a Kia is not enough cash to buy a real car
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