The Mk7.5 Golf might not look vastly different from the previous model, but there’s plenty new to look forward to under the skin
MAJORCA, SPAIN — How unfortunate that golf is a game for old men (there, I said it), when Volkswagen’s car of the same keeps getting more youthful with age. The seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf has been given a facelift, with the aim of keeping it fresh as it hits the middle of its life cycle.
The Mk7.5 Golf, as it will inevitably be known, gets the cost-effective kind of bolt-on facelift that has become something of a standard practice in the car trade. It has new LED lamps, and the bumpers have been redesigned. The front one, in particular, stretches the visual width of the car, making it look more aggressive, and better planted.
Doesn’t sound like much, but lest you think VW has given up spending money on product development, there’s more new stuff inside, particularly if you’re willing to spend a bit on the more richly-equipped Highline or R-Line models.
The Singapore line-up for Golf 7.5 has yet to be determined, but one feature you feel confident will make it over on the pricier versions is the new Discover Pro Navigation system. It’s built around a huge, 9.2-inch touchscreen interface, whose crisp graphics and high-res display are industry-leading stuff.
It makes its mark in the cabin, too, drawing the eye as soon as you climb in. We’re probably primed to associated large screens with wealth (one of the first things you do with a bonus is buy a bigger TV, admit it), but whatever it is, the big screen immediately lends the new Golf an air of poshness. All of the infotainment systems in the Golfs will be upsized, but the 9.2-incher is the grand daddy of them all.
One of the new functions it adds is gesture control, which lets you wave your hand in the air to, say, change radio stations. At best it makes it look like you’re trying to slap a ghost in the face, and before long you simply revert to the standard ways of using the touchscreen, but then putting the latest tech into the mass-market car has always been something of a VW philosophy, so why not?
Another feature making the move into the Golf is the Active Info Display, or the digitised instrument cluster. You can get in the Passat at the moment, and like in that car it adds greatly to the clarity of the satnav instructions.
Other things on the drawing board for Singapore include lane-keep assist and active cruise control, which together enable a semi-autonomous traffic jam mode that works up to 60km/h.
If it makes it to our market it’ll make morning commutes on the PIE that much less dreary.
Mind you, the Golf itself perks the mood up, particularly with the new 1.5 TSI Evo engine. It’s a development of the 1.4-litre that it’s replacing, and can shut down two cylinders to save fuel under light loads. That happens so seamlessly that you can’t tell when it’s actually taken place.
There’s a 130hp version of the engine that runs on the Miller-cycle to save even more fuel, and it will slot into a new BlueMotion version of the Golf. Given the fact that it also sneaks in the Category A side of the COE market, it’s a given for our market.
VW has also come up with a new 1.0-litre turbo in two states of tune, and it’s likely that Singapore will receive the 110 horsepower version.
The existing 1.2-litre and 1.4-litre TSI engines will soldier on for a while, even in the facelifted car, before ultimately being supplanted by the new 1.0-litre and 1.5-litre engines.
The Golf GTI, meanwhile, doesn’t get a new engine, but it does receive a hike in horsepower, from 220hp to 230hp.
Still, the new 1.5 TSI actually does a credible job of being a “GTI-lite”. The engine sounds fairly cultured, and it has plenty of mid-range pull, giving it the personality of a beaver working hard towards your happiness.
A new DSG transmission helps. It’s unrelated to the dry-clutch DQ200 it replaces, and has a new wet clutch system that should add to its robustness. More to the point, it’s noticeably smoother than the previous gearbox, and some downshift sequences are faster. It can skip gears to drop straight from seventh gear to fourth, for example.
Yep, it’s still a hoot to drive. The new 1.5 TSI engine is an eager puller, too.
As before, the Golf’s ride and handling are pretty much peerless. You can bomb into bends hard and emerge eager for more, given how unruffled it is. Mid-corner bumps and crests are shrugged off with a similar, calming coolness, too, and in spite of all the bodily composure the car is seldom jolted by bad tarmac.
To sum up, the new Golf offers the same fine handling with a fine new powertrain, a posh new interior, and features that you only expect from more expensive cars.
They’re small improvements that add up, and perhaps they’re not quite enough to make the new Golf a gamechanger, but it’s still the car that sets the rules.
Photography by Charlie Magee
NEED TO KNOW Volkswagen Golf 1.5 TSI EVO
ENGINE 1,498cc, 16V, inline four, turbocharged
MAX POWER 150hp at 5000 to 6000rpm
MAX TORQUE 250Nm at 1500 to 3500rpm
GEARBOX 7-speed dual clutch automatic
TOP SPEED 216km/h
0-100KM/H 8.3 seconds
FUEL EFFICIENCY 5.1L/100km (est.)
CO2 115g/km (est.)
PRICE To be announced
AVAILABILITY Q4 2017 (est.)