The new Volkswagen Golf tested on Irish roads
Pros: Infotainment, technology, refinement
Cons: Tech takes getting used to, comfort over fun
Four decades after it was first launched, the Volkswagen Golf consistently ranks as one of Ireland’s best-selling new cars and indeed one of Carzone’s most searched-for models. Now mid-way through its seventh generation, the Golf has been updated for 2017, with slight styling changes, an updated range of engines and most noticeably, slick new infotainment inside which will appeal to the increasing numbers of tech-savvy motorists. We recently spent a week with the new mark ‘7.5’ Golf on Irish roads to see if it can continue to lead processions in the hatchback class.
What is it like?
The facelifted Golf looks slightly different to before, but just enough to differentiate it from its predecessor. The front bumper has been restyled and incorporates a new chrome strip, while LED rear lights and eye-catching scrolling indicators are now featured as standard. Our test car is a high specification five door Highline model with an optional R-Line exterior pack, so it benefits from large alloy wheels, tinted rear windows and darkened rear lights for a sportier appearance.
The new Golf is similar to before inside, but it boasts impressive new technology with a vibrant eight-inch touch screen display featured on higher specification models. It’s an excellent system to use and proves very responsive and easy to use, unlike the comparatively-complicated systems in class alternatives like the Ford Focus and Honda Civic. Another highlight is the active info display, which merges speed, infotainment and driving information together in front of the driver in vibrant fashion.
Cabin quality remains one of the Golf’s key strengths, and leg and head room is good too with enough room to seat four adults comfortably. The boot is 380 litres in size, and will easily accommodate a sizeable weekly shop or two large suitcases, but it struggles to compete with the cavernous space found in increasingly popular compact SUVs such as the Hyundai Tucson and Renault Kadjar.
The Golf transcends many genres with frugal petrol and diesel engines, high-performance petrol and diesel engines and even hybrid and fully-electric powertrains to choose from. We drove the 150hp 1.4-litre TSI petrol which combines an ideal mix of performance, refinement and economy, and it makes for an enticing option for buyers who are thinking of switching from diesel to petrol power.
The 1.4-litre TSI is lively out on the road with punchy acceleration that delivers 0-100km/h in a respectable 8.2 seconds. Our test car has the standard six-speed manual gearbox, and there’s also the option of Volkswagen's new seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox ,which we sampled in the new high performance Golf R. We were surprised with how efficient the 1.4 TSI unit is, as we achieved 5.5 litres per 100 kilometres in fuel economy, which translates to over 50 MPG. Annual motor tax for the 1.4-tire TSi is €270 which is slightly higher than the diesel options in the range.
The latest Golf is based on the same MQB platform as its predecessor, so it drives much like before with composed handling and well-weighted steering, although it’s not quite as agile or as fun to drive as the new Ford Focus. The Golf is nonetheless a solid all-round performer and offers reassuring amounts of grip on wet roads, while it’s also easy to park with the optional rear-view camera. It copes well with Ireland’s bumpier back roads and cabin noise is kept low at motorway speeds.
Prices for the new Volkswagen Golf start at €20,895 for the base specification three door 1.0-litre TSI, which is in the same ballpark as the entry Ford Focus. Specification has improved with a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system, air conditioning, a driver alert system and Volkswagen’s connectivity package all included as standard. Our higher specification Highline test car boasts additional features such as Active Info Display, larger 17-inch alloy wheels and park distance control, along with a host of optional extras, but the price reflects this (€33,334).
Carzone verdict: 4/5
The facelifted Volkswagen Golf builds on the foundations of the supremely successful seventh generation model with superb new technology, increased connectivity and its most diverse engine line-up to date. Put simply, this means there is a Golf to suit everyone and every driving style. As the premium choice in its class, it’s more expensive than many of the other options in the class, but it’s a case of you get what you pay for, and that’s one of the best premium hatchback cars on the market right now. If you haven’t already considered petrol power, now’s the time too!
Test Car Details:
Model driven: Volkswagen Golf
Prices from: €20,895
Price as tested: €33,334
Annual Road Tax: €270
Engine: 1395cc four-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Power/Torque: 150bhp / 250Nm
Top Speed: 216km/h
0-100km/h: 8.2 seconds
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Body style: Hatchback
Boot Space: 380 litres