The thing with a Volkswagen Golf is that it’s like any other established car nameplate. It doesn’t need to look radically different. Or in fact should even attempt to look radically different. You know you’re getting a decently-built German hatchback that’s practical, spacious, and these days usually quite clever. If you want the genuinely sporty version, the Golf GTI is here too.
The body design is a little more angular than before, but the lines and components on the body are what sells the sharper-edged styling.
It’s still unmistakably Golf, and in Singapore we get three trim levels: Life, Life Plus, and R-Line. The one driven here is the middle Life Plus version and it gets larger wheels, LED lighting all round, and VW’s Air Care Climatronic air conditioning system over the base model.
The top-spec of the 1.5 version is the R-Line, which predictably gets an R-Line bodykit, sportier suspension, and plenty of nice cosmetic accents, but we haven’t tested that car just yet.
It’s the inside where the new Golf shows how far it has progressed once again.
The dashboard is sleek and makes use of touch panels rather than clicky buttons, the gear lever on the centre console is a small little lever, and on the Life Plus trim you also get three-zone adjustable ambient lighting for the whole cabin.
It looks very Star Trek inspired, but with enough tactility still on the controls to make it practical to use in daily driving. Smartphone connectivity has gone from a novelty to a must-have in cars over an extremely short period of time and the Golf delivers here as well. It also sports a wireless phone charging dock.
The dashboard is dominated by the wide expanse of the instrument panel and centre screen, so much that the aircon vents are set lower than is usually expected. It’s a neat idea, as it prioritises important visual information in the driver’s field of view without needing to look down at any time.
Rear seats are roomy as before, and there’s a big boot in the back. Also worth noting is that the two sets of cabin lights are nice and bright. It’s actually an annoyance when automakers fit cars with dim, barely usable map reading lights all in the name of a ‘cosy ambience’. None of that stuff in the Golf. When you open the door after dark, it’s a nice and bright interior that greets you.
Since the Golf hasn’t expanded much in footprint, the boot space is almost identical to before – 381-litres, and with flip down seats and a variable load floor. In our experience, you can fit perhaps one bicycle without a wheel, two with some serious planning. But if you want to carry tonnes of stuff, you probably don’t want a Golf – there’s a Tiguan for that.
Lastly, VW has done a great job with the cockpit, which looks almost like that off a luxury car. But there’s also been cost-cutting in places we look less often: The boot hinges for instance, look less well finished than before, and the underside of the bonnet is left without body colour. Those things may not impinge the actual driving or living experience, but they’re there where they weren’t before.