The first major update for a number of years.
WHAT IS IT?
WHY WE’RE TESTING IT?
This is the first time Volkswagen has regarded a Golf mid-life refresh significant enough to label with a ‘0.5’ half mark. The 1.4-litre turbo engine has been wicked up and a light facelift applied, but the most significant changes are found in the cabin where a decent dose of tech has brought the four-year-old small car bang up to date.
THE WHEELS VERDICT
For its mid-cycle update, Volkswagen has given its Golf the customary new face and behind, but it’s the surprisingly athletic 1.4-turbo output boost and interior technology enhancements that really keep the Golf as fresh as a mid-winter Melbourne morning. Engine performance is now a better match for the capable chassis, while the information and entertainment systems are in keeping with offerings in premium segments. The Golf is growing up fast.
THE WHEELS REVIEW
VOLKSWAGEN’S revered Golf finds itself at a definitive fork in the road. On the one hand an ever- sharpening price primes the model to do battle with likeable French, Japanese and South Korean contenders in the affordable small passenger arena, but with a unique German sophistication and appeal.
On the other, its compelling blend of quality, driving dynamics and style places it at the edge of the premium German and European market along with the obvious three. Which way to turn?
Volkswagen has made the deliberate move towards the latter with a mid-life update that has increased the entry level price by a little but boosted the value proposition by a lot, and the Golf is now squarely in premium territory.
The bargain-basement entry-level variants of some brands might get customers into showrooms, but most will leave with a higher-grade option and the kit they actually want, but the new base Golf 110TSI is, for many, all you may need or desire.
AEB, independent rear suspension, leather steering wheel, 8.0-inch touchscreen, alloy wheels and reverse camera are not often seen packaged together in a $23,990 small hatch, rarer still one from a German manufacturer. A dual-clutch auto takes the price to $26,490, but the power boost from 92kW to 110kW that forms part of the update adds a genuine GTI-lite enjoyment when specced with the standard six-speed manual gearbox.
A Trendline variant ups the stakes with more kit , while a Highline rounds out the top of range, but VW forecasts the mid-level Comfortline to attract the majority of sales from $28,990, or $1500 more for the wagon equivalent.
Like all petrol variants, the Comfortline has a 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that has been squeezed to find another 18kW and 50Nm, and that increase has taken performance over the fine line between adequate and involving.
From a performance perspective, nothing else has changed and that’s a positive, with the excellent handling and ride characteristics of the four-year-old Golf 7 continuing.
But the addition of a bigger, more seamlessly integrated 8.0-inch central screen has given the Golf a real lift. Spend another $2300 for the optional Infotainment pack and the car gains a larger 9.2-inch screen complemented by fully digital ‘Active Info’ instrument cluster, which used to be the reserve of high-end Audis, along with a banging 400W Dynaudio audio system.
The new Discover Media system is attractive with vibrant graphics and includes a new gesture control, which is more intuitive than BMW’s interpretation, if a little more basic in its functionality.
While many mid-life facelifts are headlined by a mild exterior redesign, the Golf’s aesthetic makeover of handsome LED lighting and bumper fettling has to play second fiddle to the performance boost and logical tech update.
With a proposition as compelling as the 7.0 car, the Golf could have rested on its laurels until the gen-eight version arrived, but this well-considered update keeps VW’s small car firmly ahead of budget offerings and is fully deserving of recognition with a point-five plaque.
Model: Volkswagen Golf 110TSI Comfortline
Engine: 1395cc 4cyl, dohc, 16v, turbo
Max power: 110kW @ 5000-6000 rpm
Max torque: 250Nm @ 1500-3500 rpm
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch
Fuel economy: 5.4L/100km
0-100km/h: 8.2sec (claimed)
On sale: now
By Daniel Gardner Jul 05, 2017