Revised for 2017 with better infotainment and a lower price.
Volkswagen has sold 33 million Golfs since 1974. That’s one every 40 seconds. If you’re in the market for a family car, it is to hatchbacks what McDonalds is to hamburgers. And just as McDonalds never messes with its recipes, so development of the Golf is a gradual process of evolution, never revolution.
Which takes us to the new 2017 model, dubbed Mk7.5. Only the keenest eyes may pick out the tweaked bumpers, front wings, LED rear lights and revised front headlights with optional LEDs. It’s not until you get inside that the bigger changes reveal themselves.
For this 2017 Golf, Volkswagen has introduced all-new infotainment systems across the range. They are bigger, more feature-packed and even include the rather fancy option of gesture control – the first time this sort of tech has been offered in this class of car. Let’s hope the dealers keep an eye on showroom cars’ batteries: it’s this that car shoppers are going to be focusing on.
We chose to drive it with one of the entry-level engines, Volkswagen’s 1.0-litre TSI 110 motor. With just 999cc and three cylinders, it sounds seriously downsized, but 109bhp is OK and, more importantly, it puts out as much torque as a 1.4-litre TSI 125 engine. So long as you don’t mind piling on a few revs to pull away, it’s a merry little motor with a smooth nature and charismatic rasp. It’s hardly fast, but willing enough for those who mainly drive in the city.
Volkswagen Golf 1.0 TSI 110 SE Navigation 5dr manual
Engine: 1.0-litre, three-cylinder, turbo, petrol
Torque: 148lb ft
Gearbox: Six-speed manual
Kerb weigh: t1216kg
Top speed: 122mph
Economy: 58.9mpg (combined)
CO2/tax band: 109g/km, 20%
Do note that if you use motorways regularly, you’ll have to drive it quite hard to keep pace with traffic. This isn’t ideal for fuel economy: long-distance drivers may be better off with the 1.5 TSI Evo engine that’s coming later this year.
On the move, the Golf is as sweet as ever, even with the more basic rear suspension fitted to this less powerful model. It rides nicely, is poised on twisty roads and the steering is accurate and confident. There aren’t many better all-rounders in this class.
What also hasn’t fundamentally changed is the Golf’s roomy interior, which has ample space for families and a perfectly accommodating boot. Some may argue it’s rather bland-looking, but there’s no faulting the build quality – and the crystal-clear glass-fronted eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system fitted even to base S models is a real standout. Our SE Navigation test car added sat nav too; gesture control comes with the optional 9.2-inch Discover Navigation Pro system.
The fast-acting system has Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink on SE models and above, for extensive smartphone integration – and if you like this tech wizardry, you can extend it further with a full 12.3-inch digital instrument pack, which includes the full-screen mapping seen on recent Audis.
All of which makes the new Golf an absolute no-brainer. It’s still a superb all-rounder, lacking only the badge appeal of the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series it’s otherwise more than competitive with: it easily sees off cars such as the Ford Focus.
The icing on the cake are list prices that, on average, are £650 cheaper across the range. Factor in the extremely impressive infotainment systems that reach right down to base S models, and we have little doubt the Golf won’t be topping the 34 million sales mark and beyond before long.