What is it?
This is the facelifted seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf – a car destined to maintain the German car maker’s long-time grip on the European sales crown in 2017. First unveiled last October, the new hatchback, which continues to be offered in both three- and five-door formats and can also be had as an MPV in the high roof Plus as well as an Estate, is planned to reach the UK in March, with the five-door 1.5 TSI tested here set to undercut the previous 1.4 TSI it replaces in the updated line-up on price, according to Volkswagen officials.
You have to look hard to spot the facelifted Golf. While there are some significant changes in the driveline department, its styling goes virtually unchanged. Those accustomed to the old model launched back in 2013 may notice a redesigned front bumper providing a subtle new look to the air ducts, halogen headlamps with altered LED daytime running lamps graphics and full LED tail lamps with altered lens graphics at the rear. However, the alterations are extremely restrained and likely to be undetectable to all but the most ardent of Golf fans.
Inside, there is the same familiar interior as before, with its orderly dashboard, intuitive switchgear layout, superb driving position and high-quality materials. However, Volkswagen now offers a wider range of digital display options aimed at broadening the Golf’s appeal. Included is the Active Info Display. Already seen on the Passat, it uses a 12.3in display with a resolution of 1440x540 pixels to provide a clear and concise alternative to the standard analogue instruments with a choice of five differing designs that can be accessed through a multi-function steering wheel that is included when it is ordered.
For those with deep pockets, there’s also a new top-of-the-line infotainment system called the Discover Pro. An alternative to lesser 6.5in Composition Colour and 8.0in Composition Media displays, it offers full touch control together with gesture control in various menus and can be combined with various on-line services, including Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Mirror Link to provide a full suite of applications and services, including those from Volkswagen’s own Car-Net scheme.
However, the big news with the new Golf concerns the changes that have gone on underneath the bonnet. In place of the turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, that has provided the basis for the majority of sales of the seventh-generation model up until now, is a larger turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder powerplant that goes under the internal codename EA211 EVO.
Bucking the downsizing trend with an added 103cm3 of capacity, the new Euro 6 compliant engine is a development of its successor rather than being new-from-the-ground-up. It is planned to eventually be offered in a wide range of Volkswagen models, including the new sixth-generation Polo due out later this year. In an initial state of tune, the contemporary direct injection unit kicks out 150bhp at 5000rpm and 184lb ft of torque between 1500 and 3500rpm to match the output of the engine it replaces in the 1.5 TSI Blue Motion Technology driven here. A more economical variant developing 128bhp and the same 184lb ft is also planned to see service in the future.