The Volkswagen Golf may be the quintessential evergreen family car, but the fact of the matter is that it has been four years since the Mk7 generation was introduced to the world, i.e. before the previous US presidential election. Not a moment too soon, Wolfsburg has pulled the wraps off the facelifted model, and it’s been updated quite a fair bit to get on with the times.
The redesign starts from the front – the standard halogen headlights now receive LED daytime running lights, while the current car’s optional xenon units have been replaced with full-LED items. The lower air intakes have also been redesigned to increase the sense of width, and the radar sensor on cars with Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) or Front Assist autonomous emergency braking is now hidden within the VW badge.
Moving to the rear, all models now get full-LED tail lights – classier items with sequential indicators are available as an option. The rear bumper has also been redesigned with a cleaner, more angular appearance, as well as faux twin exhaust exits on certain models.
The interior has seen quite a sea change. Not much has actually been done in terms of the design, save for minor trim and upholstery revisions – Volkswagen knows better than to mess with what was a simple, functional environment in the first place. But spec your Golf up to the nines and the cabin will really look as though it has taken several steps into the future.
For a start, the facelifted model inherits the Passat‘s Active Info Display virtual instrument cluster as an option, utilising a 12.3-inch configurable display ahead of the driver. Meanwhile, all infotainment system options now have larger screens than before, with even the most basic unit measuring 6.5 inches.
At the top of the range sits the new Discover Pro, which gains a massive 9.2-inch touchscreen, a tablet-style interface and capacitive menu, home, power and volume buttons along the side. Aside from touch, the system can also be controlled using gestures, with the driver able to swipe their hand in the air to scroll through menu items, or to flip through things such as music tracks.
In terms of connectivity, the Golf can now be specified wireless smartphone charging and NFC, as well as App Connect with MirrorLink, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Also available is a Media Connect tablet app that can control many of the infotainment system’s functions such as music selection through the car’s WiFi hotspot.
A handy feature of Media Connect is that those at the front can also choose what videos that will be displayed on the tablet via the infotainment system, making it ideal for parents. There’s also the new Car-Net system, which provides a suite of services such as online point of interest search, Google Earth and Google Street View, as well as security and safety features like Emergency Call Service.
Safety-wise, the Golf gains several features derived from big brother Passat – the City Emergency Braking function on the aforementioned Front Assist system now gets pedestrian detection, while the new Emergency Assist detects if the driver is incapacitated and provides an acoustic and visual warning, jolts the driver with a brief but hard stab on the brakes and, if still inactive, brings the car to a safe stop in its own lane.
Another new feature is Traffic Jam Assist, which uses the adaptive cruise control and Lane Assist function to steer, brake and accelerate the car automatically in stop-and-go traffic, providing partially autonomous driving at speeds of up to 60 km/h. Next-generation Park Assist 3.0 – now able to perform semi-automatic forward or backward parking into perpendicular spaces – and Trailer Assist are also available
The powertrain lineup has been revamped too, with the introduction of the new 150 PS 1.5 litre turbocharged TSI Evo four-cylinder petrol engine with standard-fit Active Cylinder Technology (ACT) variable displacement. There’s also a 130 PS Bluemotion version, which can now shut itself off entirely when coasting thanks to a new battery system that powers the steering and braking systems without requiring the engine.
Elsewhere in the lineup, the venerable GTI’s 2.0 litre TSI four-pot has seen a power boost, with the standard version now producing 10 PS more at 230 PS, and the hotter Performance variant kicking out 245 PS, up 15 PS from before. On the other end of the spectrum, the all-electric e-Golf has seen its range double from 150 km to 300 km, matching the also-updated BMW i3. A new, high-efficiency seven-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission will gradually be introduced on all models currently fitted with the six-speed version.
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