Volkswagen’s Golf is still the benchmark that all other makers of compact cars want to beat. VW has recently launched the mid life facelift version of its mark 7 and we’ve tested it. The mark ‘7.5’ Golf sees the introduction of some new bits and pieces inside and out with even a digital dash and gesture control becoming available.
The familiar shape looks that bit smarter without shouting about it. The Golf now comes with LED rear lights as standard. Inside there are some subtle changes too and behind the wheel it is hard not to feel satisfied and content especially in high grade versions.
The big story under the bonnet with 7.5 is the availability of VW group’s remarkable 1 litre TSI engine. The entry 1.2 petrol engine is gone and replaced by a 1 litre with the same output of 85hp, but the one you want is the 1 litre TSI with 110hp. The excellent turbocharged engine is a peach and feels more like a 1.6 or 1.8 litre. Despite its compact size it packs a punch and produces an impressively low CO2 figure of 112g. A big bonus for many buyers with the TSI is it is not a diesel. For now the oil burners in the Golf range will remain tainted by the ‘dieselgate’ emissions saga despite being really decent cars. Golf diesels in general are far more economical than petrol units but now the little gasoline 1 litre can give them a run for the money. Volkswagen quotes a surprisingly low average consumption figure of just 4.9 L/100km. Try as I might I couldn’t get my test car to guzzle fuel, the needle hardly moved as the new unit proved really economical.
The Golf now features fresher styling, more technology, improved connectivity delivered through a revised range of centre touch screens and of course a revised engine line-up. The grade structure is unchanged with Trendline the attention grabbing entry price point. Volkswagen’s own financing offers, through its own bank, have seen a huge swing towards incentivised high grade models. The Highline (level 3) grade now accounts for over 40 per cent of Golf sales. Dealers and customers benefit as the buyer gets the extra goodies for a discount and the dealer is delighted because a high spec car will come back to the dealership in a few years as a trade in to sell on again to a used car customer who wants to buy a well equipped car. Both hatchback and estate new Golfs enjoy VW’s new generation of larger and more sophisticated touchscreen infotainment systems. The top of the range new Discover Navigation Pro features gesture control as seen on BMW’s latest 7 and 5 Series. This system features a big 9.2-inch screen and sits alongside the active info display, that’s also a new feature on all Highline and performance Golfs. There is also a larger range of online services and apps available with the pro.
Volkswagen Ireland is offering customers a series of value innovation packs from launch. These bundle together some of the most popular options into cost-saving packages. On the Trendline models – the €399 pack offers 15 inch alloys, front fog lights and cruise control saving the customer €725. On the Comfortline the €399 pack offers park distance control, high beam light assist, a light & vision package and folding mirrors saving €880. In Highline, GTI, GTD and R models, the €599 pack bundles discover media, high beam light assist, rearview camera and the winter pack with heated seats saving €1,100.
My Highline TSI 110 test car had a lot of standard kit and starts at €28,070. I also benefited from a local 171 value pack that added an 8 inch Discovery nav system, high beam assist, rearview camera, winter pack, metallic paint and tasty 18 inch alloys for a further €2,141 bring the total to €30,211.
There is a lot of truth in most cliches and the Golf lives up many. It is really well put together with a solid feel. Reassuring clunks are heard when you close a door while the classic VW switchgear is familiar and functional. The dash is cleaner and the reduced clutter is very pleasing on the eye. Carplay and Android Auto connectivity is almost a must these days in any cabin and my Carplay experience was spot on.
On the road the TSI cruises with ease and is well able for motorway work. I did have one surprising engine issue in slow city driving when the car spluttered a bit at low revs, it felt like a fuelling issue but it passed after a few moments without causing me any further worry. The Golf delivers a smooth, comfortable ride with predictable handling.
Volkswagen Ireland Brand Director Gerrit Heimberg says, “The Golf remains our most important model and our best-seller and this updated version offers more style, more technology and greater connectivity than ever before.”
The entertaining hybrid Golf GTE and electric eGolf (with an improved range close to 300km) will be available as will the performance models; GTD, GTI and Golf R.
Since the 200hp mark5 I’ve really loved the GTI. The latest GTI gets a power boost to 230hp. The GTI is as near a perfect hot hatchback as you can buy. It may have less power than the Golf R, but you can use its potential more of the time. The updated Golf is on sale now with a starting price of €20,895 for the lower power 1 litre TSI with 85hp in 3dr Trendline guise (€21,895 5dr). Diesels start from €22,995 for the 1.6 90hp 3dr Trendline (€23,995 5 dr).
Over 136,000 Volkswagen Golfs have been sold in Ireland since it was launched and worldwide, more than 33 million Golfs have been sold. A new Golf is sold every 40 seconds somewhere on the planet – so its fair to say its a popular machine.