Tuesday 14 March 2017

Volkswagen Golf 2017 Review


We already know the seventh generation Golf is a very fine car so these revisions should keep it firmly at the top of the class.

For an embattled Volkswagen, still dealing with the fallout from the diesel emissions scandal, it’s vital the update does its job.

Even in the UK, one-in-three new Volkswagens sold is a Golf and two million of them have been sold here since the 1970s.

Volkswagen has taken the opportunity to meddle lightly with the car’s exterior and the result is a gentle styling progression loved by the German manufacturers with good reason: The Golf is the original classless hatchback; a brand all by itself and customers buy into its notable feel-good factor.

So while the new car has LED tail lamps and sporty Golfs get “scrolling” indicators, the point is that the Golf still looks every inch a premium product.

The engine range remains vast. The Golf is the only car on sale to offer petrol, diesel, hybrid and fully electric options.

An 85bhp petrol engine still kicks off the all-turbocharged engine line-up but it has shrunk from 1.2-litres to 1.0-litre while offering reduced emissions and a reduction in road tax band.

A 110bhp version of the 1.0-litre engine is up next, followed by a 1.4 (125bhp) engine that continues until perhaps the biggest engine introduction replaces it from May.

This will be a new 1.5-litre turbocharged engine, producing either 150bhp or 130bhp in BlueMotion “economy” form.


It’s the kind of hi-tech turbo petrol engine (it can automatically shut down some of its cylinders on a light load) that has led the fight back against diesel in recent years.

The 1.5-litre engine combines a 0 to 60mph time of 8.3 seconds and top speed of 134mph but with 55.4mpg and emissions of 116g/km it’s easy to see the case for them.

Turbo-diesels remain as the popular 1.6-litre (with 115bhp) and 2.0-litre TDI 150bhp available, like petrol engines, in most of the trim levels ranging from S to SE, SE Nav and on to GT and R-Line.

Above these models in the “regular” range sporty Golfs remain a split between petrol and diesel in GTi and GTD forms, with a slight power increase to 230bhp for the GTi (and up to 245bhp in a “Performance Pack” guise).


Soon we’ll see a slightly more powerful Golf R and an improved electric e-Golf.

There’s also a seven-speed automatic gearbox to replace the six-speed alternative to the manual gearbox.

Overall, the new Golf drives almost exactly like the previous one: it’s a hugely competent, precise, comfortable car; not the most exciting to steer but hard to beat, with a satisfying ability to soothe away the challenge of a poor road surface.

What really is significant is how impressive that new 1.5-litre turbo-petrol engine is, offering plenty of acceleration but with outstanding refinement that makes it a struggle to hear the engine working.


By comparison a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel model proves that, while diesel refinement has come a long way in cars, the engine’s presence can always be heard and felt.

The revised GTi is less spectacular, purely because the additional 10 horses under the bonnet are hard to detect.

Although 230bhp is no longer at the forefront of the hot hatch crowd, it can exceed 150mph and possesses all the performance you may want.

As with the lesser Golfs, the GTi isn’t the most exciting car in its own market niche but it’s hard to argue with its blend of style, interior quality and overall capability including fuel consumption of 44.1mpg.

If that’s still too thirsty there’s always its diesel-powered GTD twin, which Volkswagen UK expects to be the single most popular trim and engine variant.

The other big introductions with this new Golf are tech-based: new driver infotainment systems and an upgrade to the suite of driver assistance technology.

The former is headed by the new Discover Pro system with a giant 9.2ins touchscreen.

In addition VW has adopted the fully electronic instruments first seen on posh Audis, fitting them as standard on the sportier Golfs.

This mid-life update has hardly reinvented the hatchback marketplace but the Golf remains a highly desirable hatchback and these introductions, in the main, strengthen the case for it even further.

At a glance

Price: £17,625 – £29,135
Engines: Turbo-petrol – 1.0, 1.0 110bhp, 1.4, 1.5, 2.0-litre 230bhp; Turbo-diesel – 1.6, 2.0, 2.0-litre 184bhp
Power: 0 to 60mph in 6.4 seconds, 155mph top speed (2.0 230bhp)
Fuel economy: 70.6mpg (1.6TD) C02 emissions: 103 – 148g/km
Rivals: Vauxhall Astra, Ford Focus, Audi A3 Rating: 8/10



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