The Volkswagen Golf needs little introduction. It’s one of Ireland’s bestselling cars, and in 2016 Volkswagen Ireland sold just under 5000 of them here, only falling second to the Hyundai Tucson.
But even hatchback heroes like the Golf need a refresh every now and then, so the seventh generation has undergone a revision exercise for 2017 to keep it competitive.
On the outside there has been some subtle restyling including new bumpers, new radiator grille, new glass headlight covers that extend further up the wing, and more chrome detailing at the front and back. All models have LED daytime running lights and LED rear lights.
Inside, the changes are more obvious. The current generation of the Volkswagen Golf already had a great cabin that was well-built and easy to navigate, but now the infotainment and its surround has been updated. It’s a glossy black affair that does a lot to lift the interior and make it feel more premium. The digital instrument cluster we’ve seen already in the Tiguan SUV now appears for the first time in the Golf. It’s standard on Highline models.
Elsewhere, the Volkswagen Golf is a hatchback that will accommodate passengers well. Rear legroom is good for the class, as is headroom. The boot at 380 litres is also still competitive in the segment.
Volkswagen has also used the 2017 update as an opportunity to add a new engine to the Golf range. The new three cylinder 1.0-litre TSI is starting to appear across the Volkswagen Group, replacing the 1.2-litre TSI. In the Golf it’s available with 85hp or 110hp. Other engine options include the 1.4-litre TSI petrol with 150hp, the 1.6-litre diesel with 90hp or 115hp, and a 2.0-litre diesel with 150hp.
My test car had the new 1.0-litre TSI 110hp turbo petrol engine and it’s a smooth and elegant drive. The engine offers good flexibility and never feels too breathless. If compared to the 1.6-litre TDI 115hp, it’s a little down on power and torque, but marginally quicker to 100kmh, at 9.9 seconds. In terms of economy, it will return a claimed 4.8l/100km versus 4.1l/100km in the diesel, but on my test drive I returned closer to 7.0l/100km.
The new engine suits the Golf’s refined character very well and makes the most of the car’s agile and precise handling. The lower list price compared to the diesel is attractive too. The new Golf with the 110hp 1.0-litre starts from €22,895, while the 115hp 1.6-litre diesel starts from €24,995 for a five door. My test car in Highline trim had a list price of €27,295.
Standard equipment on Trendline models includes four electric windows, 6.5” touchscreen, air con and electronic parking brake. Comfortline models add 8” touchscreen, 16” alloys, adaptive cruise control, dual zone climate control, and forward collision warning. Highline models add 17” alloys, rear privacy glass, sports suspension, parking sensors and the digital instrument cluster.
The current Volkswagen Golf may be aging but it remains one of Ireland’s favourite cars. Volkswagen has used this latest update to refine the package a little more, which has been done very successfully with the updates to the infotainment and centre console, and also the introduction of the digital instrument cluster for the first time. For buyers thinking about switching to a petrol hatchback, the new 1.0-litre TSI is one of the best on the market.
Model tested: Volkswagen Golf Highline 1.0 TSI 5-door 110hp
Price: €27,295 (Range starts at €20,895)
Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrol
0-100km/h: 11.1 seconds
Top speed: 166km/h
CO2 emissions: 106g/km
Motor tax: €190 per year
If you are looking for a five door hatchback you might also like this review of the Audi A3 Sportback.