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Volkswagen’s updated Golf range features a revised engine line up, more technology, refreshed styling and competitive pricing. Reuben van Niekerk reports

Building on the appeal of the Golf 7, Volkswagen’s latest update of the model allows it to retain its benchmark-setting parameters in terms of comfort, practicality, safety and efficiency while remaining true to perceptions that it’s an exciting but safe choice in the family car market.

Design modifications include new front and rear bumpers, new front fenders and new halogen headlights with LED daytime running lights.

The top of the range GTI – which used to have halogen headlights as a standard feature – now gets a full LED system which, incidentally, can be ordered as an option for the other models – while full LED rear lights that boast animated or flowing indicator functions have been incorporated across the board.

New wheel designs and body colours complete the exterior update, while fresh trim panels and materials ensure a revitalised look to the interior.

At the front, the radiator grille and headlights have taken the style of the predecessor to a new level. A lower chrome strip on the radiator grille has been extended to the left and right as a single element, the line running through the light clusters and into the headlight housings.

Air-intakes in the lower section of the bumper, which have also been redesigned, help to emphasise the car’s width. Radiator grilles of non-performance derivatives have a louvre type design in contrast to the honeycomb look of the GTI’s.

A turbocharged, fuel-efficient 1,0-litre TSI engine – coupled with six-speed manual transmission only – is offered for the first time in the Golf. The unit, which Volkswagen’s spokesmen claim uses only 4,9 litres of petrol per 100km, has an output of 81kW and 175Nm – impressive for an engine of this size.

The model’s performance isn’t bad, either, the zero to 100km/h sprint accomplished in under 10 seconds, according to the brand’s claims. 

The 1,4 litre TSI with 92kW has been retained. The lively engine delivers its 200Nm between 1 400 and 4 000rpm. The model completes the 0 -100km/h sprint in 9,1 seconds and is said to use only 5,2 litres of fuel per 100km.

The iconic Golf GTI has received a power upgrade. Now producing 169kW, it will run from 0 to 100km/h in 6,4 seconds. With DSG transmission, the car is said to sip fuel at a rate of 6,4 litres/100km – good for a high performance model.

The 2,0 litre TDI with 81kW, the Golf R with 213kW and the GTD with 130kW will be introduced to the range in the second half of the year. 

The Golf now also comes with the option of an Active Info display, which is a fully digitalised instrument cluster with numerous interactive functions. All of the dials are displayed virtually via software on a 12,3-inch colour screen.

Navigation information can be displayed in 2D or 3D. The 1 440 x 540 pixel resolution enables extremely precise and sophisticated representation of all details. In combination with the radio or navigation system’s display, the Active Info instrument cluster creates a visually complimentary, flexible interface.

Volkswagen has replaced all previous infotainment systems in the Golf with a generation of units that feature uprated designs and larger touchscreens. The model designations of the systems remain similar to those of the predecessors, with a choice of Composition Colour, Composition Media or Discover Navigation Pro.

The latter system can now be operated by gesture control, touch or voice and it’s equipped with a proximity sensor that makes even more menu functions appear on the display when a hand approaches the screen.

Sporting a 9,2-inch touch screen, this optional system works well in conjunction with the Active Info display.

The Golf creates a new benchmark for assistance systems in the compact class, with a number of technologies aimed at significantly improving safety. These include a Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert as well as Adaptive Cruise Control with Front Assist and Autonomous Emergency Braking.

Optionally available across the range and ordered in conjunction with the swivelling tow-bar, Trailer Assist including Park Assist neatly demonstrates the new Golf’s practical yet technically advanced nature. 

The system helps to accurately position a trailer or caravan when reversing into a parking bay. All the driver needs to do is operate the accelerator pedal and brake, while the system automatically controls the direction of the car, using Park Assist to move the trailer backwards into the required position.

All Golfs also feature BlueMotion technologies such as a stop-start system and a mode for regenerative braking.

Of particular interest to fleet customers is the fact that the new 1,0 litre derivative retails for less than the 1,2 litre model that it replaces – despite offering the exact same performance figures while being more efficient and offering more technology.

The 1,4 litre and GTI remain great value propositions considering the levels of specification that are now offered as standard equipment.

With the Golf based on the same MQB platform as before, ride and handling remain comfortable and well balanced. The design updates and added technology in areas of lighting, infotainment and driver assistance continue to ensure that the model punches well above its weight.


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