New looks, new engines, and new tech. Best way to summarise the new Volkswagen Golf. Undoubtedly one of the most important vehicles in VW’s lineup, the 2017 update is a facelift rather than a full model change, though the changes themselves are extensive.
Firstly, the designers at VW took a ‘if it ain’t broke’ approach to the looks, reworking only the details. But the Golf, as a whole, certainly looks more competitive and up-to-date with the rapidly improving competition. The front bumpers see some revisions, with a lightly altered grille and air ducts, new headlights boasting LED daytime running lights, LED main beam, and altered internal graphics. The rear sees a similar alterations, with full-LED rear light clustered and integrated exhausts on the R-Line models. A new range of wheel designs & colours complete the exterior overhaul.
At the reveal of the Golf, Volkswagen confirmed the introduction of a new, advanced, turbocharged 4-cylinder 1.5-litre petrol engine, though the rest of the range hasn’t been detailed (especially in regard to the diesel offerings). The new mill will motivate two new 1.5 TSI EVO variants, and draws on a number of engineering advances first seen in Audi’s newest 2.0-litre four cylinder power plant, as well as Active Cylinder Management that can deactivate two cylinders during light usage to save fuel. The most powerful of the 1.5-litre variants will deliver 110kW and 250Nm, but Volkswagen has been mum on the performance figures.
However, they are boasting fuel consumption figures of just 57.7mpg for this unit, while a Bluemotion variant of the same engine will do 61.4mpg. The Bluemotion power plant achieves this by shutting down the engine during coasting, which is detuned to just 95kW and 200Nm. The 1.5-litre will effectively replace the 1.4-litre engine in the outgoing car. Adding to the new Golf’s efficiency is its new automatic 7-speed DSG gearbox, which joins the standard-fit 6-speed manual. The new automatic transmission is said to contribute somewhat to lower CO2 emissions, too.
Technological advancements and revisions jostle for headline space for the new Golf, with a raft of new additions to what was already considered adequate when the Mk7 made its debut in 2013. The interior sees the cabin’s design mildly revised, but makes way for massive leaps forward, like the offering of a 12.3” high-definition Active Info Display, which replaces the standard analogue dials. The AID sees five different ‘profiles’ to suit different needs, those being ‘classic,’ ‘consumption & range,’ ‘efficiency,’ ‘performance,’ and lastly, ‘driver assistance & navigation.’ The graphics on the AID are model-specific, with red and blue themes for the GTI and GTE variants respectively.
Infotainment systems see a huge jump, too. The 2017 Golf gets no less than five optional touchscreen systems, all bearing larger screens and an improved user interface, and even features gesture control on the range-topping variant. The older screens, ranging from 5” to 8”, have all been binned; In their place are 6.5-inch, 8-inch, and a whopping 9.2-inch screen for the top-dog Discover Pro media system.
Driver assistance tech also sees massive improvements, as is befitting the brand’s best-selling model. Top of the list is Traffic Jam Assist, which pilots the car in snarly traffic conditions at speeds up to 60km/h, and something called Emergency Assist, which sounds a warning and initiates an emergency stop should the car detect that the driver is incapacitated. Lane Assist with active lane keeping, City Emergency Braking, and Park Assist 3.0 all make an appearance here, too.
The hot Golf GTI, touted as one of the best handling cars in its class, sees a small bump in power, with a 7kW increase in both the standard GTI and the more powerful GTI Performance. The Golf GTE soldiers on unchanged though, with a 110kW 1.4-litre turbocharged engine supplemented by a 75kW electric engine, making a combined 185kW and 350Nm. These more powerful variants will be offered with the new 7-speed DSG automatic, replacing the 6-speed auto ‘box that was standard fare for these models.
Next week at the Los Angeles Motor Show, Volkswagen will be pulling the wraps off of the revised EV sibling in the lineup, the eGolf. The headlining change here is an improved battery pack, going up from 24.2kWh to 38.5kWh, giving it a claimed range of up to 300kms.
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