Golf on digital course. 'Baby' petrol ups swing from diesel
Hardly a week passes now that we don't hear of, or drive, a new small petrol engine. So it is hardly surprising that Volkswagen are getting in on the act with one in their updated Golf.
I've already driven and reviewed versions of this 1-litre 3cyl in the Skoda Octavia and Audi Q2 but engines come across differently in different cars for a variety of reasons: vehicle size, weight, settings etc. So how did it fare in the 'new' Golf?
First things first. This Golf isn't new. It's got a few licks of visual change but most of the improvements come in the digital area, as I've reported from abroad previously. The infotainment and connectivity systems are upgraded, starting with larger touchscreens; and Android Auto and MirrorLink. High-end versions get all sorts, such as semi-automatic driving (Traffic Jam Assist) as part of a safety assist menu.
Technically, prices are a few hundred up on what was a price-lowered and spec increased 'runout' model, making it a moderate hike overall. It does look a bit smarter but you'd have to strain to find a major change. The big clues are at the front: new radiator grille, LED headlights. There are LED tail lights too while engines get a bit more power. And there's a 7spd dual clutch gearbox (DSG).
Despite diesel getting an increasingly bad press, the 1.6-litre 115bhp 5dr stalwart of many a year - in Highline trim by the way - will still be the big, big seller.
I mention trim level there because it is worth repeating how smart Volkswagen have been in using their PCPs to 'steer' people towards higher spec models.
Highline used to be the preserve of the few who wanted more bling. Now it is the one ordered most often - no doubt because the PCP interest rate is 1.9pc compared with 3.9pc on mid-spec Comfortline and 5.9pc on entry-level Trendline.
PCP deals start at €269 a month and prices kick off at €21,670 on-the-road.
Additionally they now put equipment packs together which they say work out far less expensive than if you were to add the items separately. An example is the €599 Innovation Pack on Highline, GTi, GTD and 'R' versions which has 'Discover Media', high-beam assist, rear-view camera, heated seats etc. They reckon it comes in €1,100 lower than the sum of the individual parts.
And so to the 1-litre engine: sweet as a nut. We gave it a nice city/suburb drive out from Collins' Barracks - what a wonderful place for a car launch - and had to say it is probably the best 'fit' to date. This is the sort of engine you should be buying if you do under 15,000km a year. It was free and easy on the open road too. There are 85bhp and 110bhp versions.
The 3dr Trendline 1-litre (999cc) TSI 3cyl 85bhp (108g/km, €190 road tax) costs €21,670 on-the-road (includes €775 delivery/related charges); the 5dr costs €22,670.
The 110bhp (107g/km, €190 tax) version starts at €22,670 (3dr; €1,000 more for 5dr). Comfortline starts at €24,570 (5dr: €25,570) for the 110bhp version (no 85bhp in that trim). And Highline for the 110bhp version begins at €27,070 (5dr: €28,070). Diesels start with the 1.6-litre 90bhp (106g/km, €190 road tax) at €23,770 (5dr: €24,770). The 115bhp version costs €24,770; 5dr - €25,770.
A couple facts about Golfs down the years:
* We Irish buy around 5,000 a year;
* 136,000 have been sold here since 1976.
Last year 78pc of new Golfs drove on diesel; 21pc on petrol. I wonder will the new 1-litre help change that? I think it will. There is a gradual shift afoot.