Wednesday 23 August 2017

Mid-life facelift as VW Golf adds new tech delights

VW's bestseller is changing but not too much. Martin Brennan takes a look

New style: The ever-popular Golf is having a mini-makeover
New style: The ever-popular Golf is having a mini-makeover

Martin Brennan

When you talk about VW, and Golf in particular, there are some facts worth noting. More than 33 million have been sold, it is the bestselling car in Europe, the bestselling VW worldwide, and the best-selling VW here. One million Golf models are now built each year. Over the past four decades, a Golf has been built and ordered every four seconds.

So it has been an extremely successful car and now the seventh-generation model makes way for the 7.5th-generation model which arrives here next month. It is not quite an eighth-generation offering, just a mid-life facelift for the exterior dimensions - full LED headlights, new rear lights, and new front and rear bumpers, all light touches that you would have to take a second look to notice.

But there is a new world of delights for the tech-savvy driver. There are larger touchscreens, a fully digital cockpit, gesture control for the screen functions - a feature which was previously only available on high-end luxury cars - on-board internet, wireless phone charging and Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Mirror Link for easy smartphone integration. Also on the way is the Smart Home app, which can unlock your door at home via Mirror Link while you are still driving should a loved one be locked out.

What is more interesting is VW's semi-automated driving system which is linked to Traffic Jam Assist and Trailer Assist, important road recognition features when it comes to safety. There is also a new generation Front Assist with pedestrian recognition which uses radar sensors to prevent shunts with forward traffic. This technology has halved accidents involving third parties, according to British researchers. VW say it aims to have zero accidents.

Also new is the line-up of new and more powerful engines. There is a new 1.5TSi 130bhp with economical cylinder deactivation which will eventually replace the current 1.4TSi, a new one-litre three-cylinder petrol engine with 85bhp or 110bhp options which will replace the 1.2TSi with similar outputs but is not as economical. The bestseller will continue to be the 1.6TDi with 90bhp or 115bhp, along with the new one-litre petrol when it arrives. There is a also a 2-litre TDi with 150bhp output on offer. The dream machine is the GTi which gets a 230bhp power plant and is a pleasure to drive in terms of performance and agility. A new seven-speed dual clutch DSG automatic transmission now replaces the six-speed for improved economy.

Hybrid and electric models are also available. The e-Golf claims 50pc increase in range, up to 300km, but in reality a figure of 200/220km may be more realistic. The plug-in hybrids claim up to 50kg on pure electric power.

Prices start at just under €21,000 for the entry level one-litre model and €23,000 for the entry level 1.6-litre diesel, but few buy entry level Trendline or mid-level Comfortline. The top-range Highline trim now accounts for more than 40pc of deals. Over the past four years, VW has sold 20,326 Golf models on the Irish market, with the swing to petrol power rising slightly to 21.4pc compared with 20.7pc in 2013.

Sunday Independent

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