It is when making the switch between two relatively close bedfellows that the power of the VW brand makes itself apparent. Last week I praised the 307, genuinely impressed by its overall strengths in looks and performance. But a brief spell in the Golf and the differences are put sharply into focus. With the 307 I raised some faults, admittedly not earth-shattering, but the squeaky brakes and footwell carpet coming loose are still faults that have disappointed us at Fleet Towers.
The glaring distinction I make here between the two brands is that you'd be hard-pressed to find any such faults in the Golf – and each car has covered a similar mileage. It is these facts that, as long as they exist, will always distinguish brands, no matter what spec a car or how big its engine.
And bear this in mind: the Golf costs £16,710 on-the-road and the 307, £16,660. Less than £100 is not much to pay over a three-year operating cycle for a little more driver/fleet manager/contract hire firm peace of mind, is it?
Looking at the performance to date of the Golf, it continues to impress. The bursts of power available from the 130bhp engine leave you in no doubt that the car would get you out of a difficult spot should your carefully-considered overtaking manoeuvre begin to look like a game of chicken with an HGV, getting you home safely without ruffling any feathers.
The 20bhp gain in power over the 307 HDi shows itself clearly at times like this. And yet our test mpg figure for the larger-engined Golf is also a nose above the 307, 44.7 compared to 43.5.
In terms of its practicality, the Golf also scores top marks. I loaded a month's worth of grocery shopping in the boot one day, then a dismantled wardrobe and decrepit fence panels bound for the dump the next without any problems – aside from a bit of backache!