What do car buyers think of Volkswagen’s latest evolutions to its long-running Golf?
We’re here once again: Volkswagen has updated the Golf by evolving it rather than revolutionizing it. But here, the evolution is a bit more revolutionary than normal. The Mk7 version arrived in 2012 and this mid-life facelift brings in updated styling new infotainment systems, even an all-new petrol engine.
There are enough changes to warrant it gaining the semi-official branding Mk7.5, although it could be argued Volkswagen needed to big up the changes in order to see off the ever-present threat from posh alternatives such as the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series. Has it done enough to help the Golf overcome the allure of a premium-badged rival? We asked four readers for their thoughts.
Tracey Stevens is a 38-year-old paramedic who normally drives a premium car herself: a Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet. But she’s in the market for a Golf, despite never having driven one, because her Merc isn’t practical enough for her two big Rottweilers.
She seems impressed. She likes the bigger eight-inch infotainment touchscreen, which is slicker than the previous Golf, and although the stereo’s sound quality can’t match her E-Class, she likes the system’s user-friendliness. Other things that caught her eye included the flat-bottom leather steering wheel and the rear-view mirror that has no thick rim around it, making it look clean.
And her prime reason for buying one, space? “I didn’t think the boot would be big enough for my dogs, but you can drop the floor down quite a way. With it down, they’d definitely fit in. The mechanism you use is so quick and easy that I actually thought I wasn’t doing it right at first.” A happy potential customer.
Matthew Taylor already drives a Mk7 Golf, a GTI version. The 26-year-old is aware the firm’s stepping up the power with the new hot versions, and he likes the sound of the enhanced Dynamic Chassis Control. “The infotainment is massively improved, and you can get gesture control on higher trims. I think it’s so cool that they’ve put luxury car tech on an ‘attainable’ car; that will distinguish this Golf from its rivals.”
Despite all this, he’s unsure he’ll be snapping one up: he’s not sure how much of a step on it really represents. “The interior is much the same and the exterior isn’t massively changed. So, I think I’d be more interested in waiting for the Mk8 if I were to buy a new Golf.” A tempered thumbs up from Matthew, then.
Sixty-two-year-old Reg Chopra has both a Mercedes-Benz C-Class and a Hyundai Veloster. A five-door hatch might soon be replacing the Hyundai, hence his interest in the Golf, although he’s also looked at a Mercedes-Benz A-Class and BMW 1 Series.
“What impresses me most about the Golf’s space is in the rear seats. I’m 6ft tall and not the thinnest person in the world, but I’d be very happy sat there, with loads of head and leg room and comfy seats.” He reckons the boot is a good size, the rear seat is accommodating and an SE model gives a good level of safety kit. If he can get a good deal, he’s buying one.
Les Pearce is another Golf driver, this time a Mk6 R. The 42-year-old office manager thinks it looks smart, a bit more fine-tuned, now looking like it means business. Hiding the front collision sensors in the front end also helps its appearance, and the LED lights are striking.
Les picks up on some of the detail tweaks: the return of cupholders in the centre console, the inclusion of a CD player in the glovebox, the responsiveness of the infotainment system. “As a Mk6 Golf owner, I think this model has enough changes that I might consider buying it. If I owned a Mk7, I definitely wouldn’t, though.” Have she and Matthew been comparing notes, we wondered?