It may be one of the biggest clichés going, but there actually is a Golf for everyone.
There’s a level of choice here – delivered by VW’s renowned engineering focus but also because the Golf’s sheer market share can justify it – that made the pre-facelift seventh-generation Golf the first passenger car on the market to be available in petrol, diesel, plug-in hybrid and all-electric forms.
The facelift brings a new 84bhp 1.0 TSI petrol engine for the car, as well as the 1.5 TSI Evo we’re testing (which comes in 128bhp and 148bhp forms). It also adds power for the 2.0-litre turbo GTI (now 227bhp), GTI Performance (242bhp) and R (306bhp), with the last two (and higher-powered diesels) benefiting from a new seven-speed DSG gearbox.
The 1.5 TSI Evo engine provides a little bit of an anti-climax on paper, producing only as much peak power and torque in its more expensive tune as the 1.4-litre engine it replaces. However, lower internal friction, new intercooling and higher fuel injection pressure than the old 1.4 contribute to a quicker claimed 0-62mph time and an improvement in EU-certified combined fuel economy of about seven percent.
We’ll see how clearly those improvements present themselves in our test results – but, on paper, they make for a predictably competitive showing compared with the equivalent Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and Mazda 3, all of which produce less torque and are less fuel efficient.
From a styling perspective, you get new bumpers and headlights on your 2018-model-year Golf (LED lights and ‘animated’ Knight Rider-style rear clusters if you go for a performance-branded one, no less) and there are also new alloy wheel designs and paint colours to choose from.
On the inside, there are some new seat upholsteries and fascia trims, although the major departure is the car’s selection of all-new infotainment systems, which we’ll come to shortly.
VW has also added active safety and convenience systems to the Golf. Traffic Jam Assist now allows it to stay in its lane and follow the car in front in semi-autonomous fashion when active cruise control is engaged below 37mph, and Emergency Assist can recognise when the driver has become incapacitated at the wheel and will ultimately bring the car to a halt if attempts to rouse that driver are fruitless.