VOLKSWAGEN GOLF IS BETTER THAN EVER

Nothing out of the ordinary in looks, but the Golf 7 is sure to continue the tradition of huge sales

Nothing out of the ordinary in looks, but the Golf 7 is sure to continue the tradition of huge sales

Having driven the Volkswagen Golf seventh generation in Europe last year and at its Australian launch a few weeks back we have now done the most important reviews of all, in our home territory we reviewed two variants, spending a week in each. They were a Golf 103TSI petrol and a110TDI diesel, both with BlueMotion technology, both in Highline spec.

Initial impressions of the German hatchback were mixed. In looks the car has the undoubted Golf design DNA, in this case producing a rather dated squared-off rear that’s reminiscent of all Golfs for the past four decades. Not a bad thing as the car is unashamedly aimed at conservative buyers. That is until we see the hotshot GTI and R variants down the track. Presumably these will have body kits to add oomph to their shapes

Volkswagen_Golf_rear
The well-insulated passenger cabin has more space than in the previous model and minimum engine and road noise reaches the interior. Providing a relaxed atmosphere for up to five occupants that’s more like that of an upmarket machine.

Separate quiet conversations can be held front and rear without one intruding on the other. There’s 15 mm more rear legroom than in the superseded Golf 6, not limo-like space, but certainly enough for adults to get comfortable.

Cargo capacity has been increased by 30 litres to 380 litres and a variable boot floor can also be lowered by 100 mm.

Volkswagen_Golf_interior
The driver grips a leather-bound, three-spoke, flat-bottom sports-style steering wheel, while the gear lever has been raised 20 mm putting it closer at hand. The redesigned dashboard is angled towards the driver in a manner found in more expensive vehicles. The Highline spec features a 5.8-inch infotainment touchscreen flanked by menu keys and dials. A proximity sensor reacts to wiping movements by the fingers as found on smart phones.

While exterior mirrors incorporate duplicate direction indicators, they seem small by today’s standards.

Recognising the need for the driver to keep alert over long distances, all Aussie Golf 7s come with a driver fatigue detection system, which looks at your driving style in the initial kilometres of a trip and checks the driver’s steering and response patterns on an ongoing basis. Then recommends a break if lapses in concentration are detected. That’s clever.

Highline is the new topline model, taking over from the Golf 6 Comfortline. Added features include front sports seats incorporating Alcantara centre panel and fabric inner side supports, LED reading lights in the front and rear, Discover Media satellite navigation system, dark red rear lights, customised Dijon 17-inch alloy wheels and front fog lights including cornering lights.

Cost options include adaptive cruise control, Front Assist with City Emergency Brake function, driving profile (Eco, Sport, Normal, Individual) selection, Park Assist 2, parking bay and parallel parking assistance and Proactive occupant protection system

The 1.4-litre petrol engine was mated to a seven-speed DSG automatic transmission, the 2.0-litre diesel to a six-speed version of the same double-clutch set-up, both being matched to maximise use of the big torque from the engines.

There is little to split performance of the two cars, zero to100 kilometres per hour coming up in 8.4 seconds with petrol power, 8.6 seconds for the diesel.

Both vehicles take advantage of VW’s BlueMotion technology which includes stop/start engine, brake energy recuperation, gearshift recommendation and intelligent thermal management.

Further fuel efficiencies can be obtained by calling on the coasting function when coming to a stop, say at traffic lights. By lifting the foot completely off the accelerator pedal the car automatically de-clutches.

On day-to-day Golf 7 usage, the 103TSI petrol used 6.1 litres per 100 kilometres in the city and 5.0 litres per 100 kilometres on the open road, while the 110TDI diesel showed 6.1 and 4.6 litres per hundred. There’s not a huge difference so our leaning towards quieter, smoother petrols over diesels continues.

Clever design means Golf 7 has lost up to 90 kg in weight over the previous model without compromising crash protection and rigidity requirements of a larger body.

Weight savings among suspension components have been made with no compromise in ride and handling, leading to a general feeling of well being no matter what test the Golf 7 was put to in driving conditions varying from the wide open spaces of the motorway to the narrow twists and turns of the hilly hinterland.

There is no doubting the value for money in the test Golf 7s, the 103TSI Highline selling for $31,990, plus on-roads, the 110TDI Highline for $34,490. Both, like the rest of the passenger vehicle range join VW’s capped price service program covering six years – one of the longest periods in the market segment – or 90,000 kilometres, which ever comes first.

With the Aussie dollar in rapid retreat, thanks to the rise in the US greenback and the softening of the Chinese economy, it will be interesting to see how long the extremely competitive pricing of the Golf 7 can be maintained.

MODEL RANGE
Golf 90TSI 6-Speed Manual $21,490
Golf 90TSI 7-Speed DSG $23,990
Golf 90TSI Comfortline 6-Speed Manual $24,990
Golf 90TSI Comfortline 7-Speed DSG $27,490
Golf 103TSI Highline 7-Speed DSG $31,990
Golf 110TDI Highline 6-Speed DSG $34,490
Note: This price does not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Volkswagen dealer for drive-away prices.

GOLF 103TSI 1.4 PETROL ENGINE / GOLF 110TDI 2.0 DIESEL ENGINE:
Capacity: 1395 cc / 1968 cc
Configuration: Four-cylinder in-line turbocharged direct injection petrol with stop/start function / four-cylinder in-line direct injection diesel with stop/start function
Bore and stroke: 74.5 mm x 80.0 mm / 81 mm / 95.5 mm
Compression ratio: 10.5:1 / 16.2:1
Fuel type: 95 RON ULP or higher / diesel 51CZ
Maximum Power: 103 kW @ 4500-6000 rpm / 110 kW @ 3500-4000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 250 Nm @ 1300-4500 rpm / 320 Nm @ 1750-3000 rpm

DRIVELINE:
Driven wheels: Front
Transmission: 7sp DSG / 6sp DSG
Transmission code: P410
Final drive: 3.703:1

DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4349 mm
Width: 1799 mm
Height: 1491 mm
Wheelbase: 2620 mm
Track: 1550 mm (front), 1522 mm (rear)
Turning circle: 10.9 m
Tare mass: 1265 kg / 1326 kg
Cargo space: 380 litres, 1270 litres (rear seat backs folded flat)
Towing: 1400 kg (braked), 620 kg (unbraked / 1600 kg (braked), 680 kg (unbraked)
Tow bar load limit: 80 kg
Fuel tank capacity: 50 litres

SUSPENSION AND BRAKES:
Front Suspension: Independent, MacPherson struts with lower A-arms. Anti-roll bar
Rear Suspension: Independent, four-link with coil springs. Anti-roll bar.
Brakes: Ventilated discs (front); discs (rear). Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-pressure Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist and Electronic Stabilisation Program (ESP). Brake energy recuperation
Steering: Electro-mechanical power assisted rack and pinion
Wheels / tyres: Alloy (Dijon) 17x7in wheels with 225/45 R17 tyres. Space saving spare wheel

PERFORMANCE:
Acceleration 0-100 km/h: 8.4 sec / 8.6 sec
Maximum speed: N/A

FUEL CONSUMPTION:
Combined Cycle (ADR 81/01): 5.2 L/100 km, CO2 emissions 121 g/km / 4.9 L/100km, CO2 emissions 129 g/km
Emission standard: EU5

GREEN VEHICLE GUIDE RATINGS:
Greenhouse Rating: N/A Air Pollution Rating: N/A

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