Now, as ever, evolution is key when it comes to the Golf’s design. Volkswagen Group design boss Walter de Silva suggests that much of the Golf’s success “lies in its continuity”. People like what they see.
It’s true enough that if you removed all the badges we’re certain you could tell this was a new Golf, but there are some subtle variations from the theme: stronger horizontal lines along and across the body reinforce an impression of solidity, while the front wheels extend further forwards to reduce the overhang and give a sense that there’s a longer bonnet and a cabin set further back.
That, according to VW, is a design trademark of a more upmarket car.
What lies beneath, however, is more important than surface fripperies. You’ll probably already know that Volkswagen’s new, flexible MQB architecture features here. It’s not new just for the Golf, of course, and it has already made its debut elsewhere within the group, most relevantly for this test underneath the Audi A3.
It’s a steel monocoque construction whose body-in-white is said by VW to weigh 23kg less than its predecessor’s, thus contributing to the claimed 100kg weight reduction over Mk6 Golf variants. That’s despite it being longer and wider at a still-compact 4255 and 1799mm respectively.
Volkswagen says a base 2.0 TDI like our test car could weigh as little as 1354kg. But there’s no disgrace that, well equipped and full of fuel, it came up 10kg short of 1400kg, especially given that the Volvo V40 D3 we tested last year tipped the scales at 1545kg.
Our test car came with multi-link rear suspension (in the UK, 1.6 TDI and 1.2 TSI variants get a torsion beam); all Golfs, as you would expect, have MacPherson struts at the front.
There's also a four-wheel drive Golf, the 4Motion, with an electronic Haldex 4x4 system and front and rear diff locks. Unfortunately this car won't be coming to the UK, which is a shame as we've tried it and it's good.