Volkswagen revises Golf to give hi-tech masters class!
Volkswagen's Golf is classless but the revised line-up is better connected with even more big-car technology, says motoring editor Andy Russell.
When Volkswagen launches a new Golf, or gives this core model a mid-life makeover, it’s a big deal.
With 33 million sales worldwide – two million in the UK - since 1974, and most changing hands several times used, a huge number of people have had some contact with the Golf whether as owner, driver or passenger.
Volkswagen has now updated the Golf hatchback and estate – let’s call it Mark 7.5 –evolutionary, rather than dramatic, and that’s the Golf formula. It works, with the Golf one in three Volkswagen UK sales and, including bigger SV in the total, it’s the third best seller.
The revised Golf keeps those reassuringly good bits that work so well, adding up to be more than a sum of their parts, but gets a mild facelift, revised engines, new driver aids and more sophisticated infotainment systems - all in keeping with the Golf’s big-car feel.
And it’s more for less with the new Golf £650 less on average.
The exterior restyle sees new bumpers, halogen headlamps with LED daytime running lights or full LED lights, new front wings and, on all models, full LED back lights.
Let’s talk tech
Golf has always been an early adopter of new technology in its class as it cascades down the Volkswagen.
The virtual 12.3in active info display from the Passat and Tiguan is standard on top models, or a £495 option, with various views to prioritise what the driver needs such as instrument cluster or navigation map.
New design infotainment systems with larger 8.0 and 9.2in touchscreens.
The top Discover Navigation Pro infotainment system available with gesture control – VW hails it as the ‘interface of the future’ – standard on e-Golf or a £1,325 option.
The wealth of driver assistance systems on offer includes semi autonomous driving at up to 37mph, emergency assist to stop the car if it detects the driver is not reacting, city emergency braking and trailer assist to take over reversing when towing.
Under the bonnet
Plenty to choose from with the Golf the only car on sale to offer petrol, diesel, pure electric and plug-in hybrid.
The highlight is a new 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine – 150PS with fuel-saving technology to shut down two cylinders when cruising and a 130PS Bluemotion version – available to order from next month.
The other turbo engines have been tweaked for more power or improved environment performance.
On the petrol front there are 85 and 110PS 1.0-litre three-cylinder units, punchy enough and ideal for lower-speed commuting, 125PS 1.4-litre and 230PS and 310PS 2.0-litre in Golf GTI and R. The GTI is quick, the R ballistic on paper but, on the road, doesn’t feel much quicker, just noisier.
With 65% fleet business, diesels will lead the way with 115PS 1.6-litre and 150PS and 184PS 2.0-litre units offering strong performance and frugal fuel consumption
All are available with five and six-speed manual and six and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearboxes.
How it drives
You soon realise what a well-balanced package the Golf is when it comes to ride and roadholding, regardless of model.
In fact, I think less is more with the big-selling SE Navigation with its smaller wheels and deeper tyres supremely comfortable on poor roads but its agility and grip inspires confidence through corners - firmly planted and forgiving.
You could take your grandmother out in the GTI and she wouldn’t feel shaken about but the R can feel firm and fidgety on poor surfaces but sticks to the road like glue.
Space and comfort
The Golf has plenty of space for four adults, and five wouldn’t be cramped, and the hatchback’s boot is generous at up to 380 litres, made all the more versatile with a removable sill level floor panel, and 1,270 litres with the split rear seat backs folded.
The estate, which is more about space than style, has a vast 605-litre load bay rising to 1,620 litres.
At the wheel
The solid build and quality finish are evident with tactile, durable materials at contact points, clear instruments, user-friendly switchgear, supportive, shapely seats and a good range of seating and steering wheel adjustment.
You’d never call the fascia exciting but it makes up for it with user-friendly ergonomics - another reason you feel so at home in a Golf.
Volkswagen has enhanced the big-car feel, quality and classless appeal of the Golf. It’s still the car to beat in this sector but the task has just got tougher.
TECH AND SPEC
VOLKSWAGEN GOLF 1.0 TSI SE 110PS HATCH
Engine: 999cc, 110PS, three-cylinder, turbo petrol
Performance: 0-62mph 9.9 seconds; top speed 122mph
MPG: 58.9 combined
CO2 emissions: 109g/km
VOLKSWAGEN GOLF 1.6 TDI SE HATCH
Engine: 1,598cc, 115PS, four-cylinder, turbo diesel
Performance: 0-62mph 10.2 seconds; top speed 123mph
MPG: 68.9 combined
CO2 emissions: 106g/km
Price: Hatchback £17,625 to £33,935; estate £19,330 to £34,985
Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles
Will it fit in the garage? SE hatch L 4,258mm; W (excluding door mirrors) 1,799mm; H 1,492mm