Innovation is the new norm
It all starts modestly and predictably. For model year 2017 the Golf got a facelift, altering its looks ever so slightly. The Golf now looks more modern and more important. At the same time new colours have been introduced, which give the car a stronger personality. The version driven here is executed in "Turmeric Yellow" which is fresh and bright, but not childish or cheap.
Those who look beyond the new design will see more, literally. The headlights are now a lot smarter! As of now the Golf is available with AFS+, which means "Adaptive Front Light System". This can alter the colour and direction of the light beam depending on the situation for better visibility and more safety. LED tail lights now come as standard and the indicators now "animate" to make the Golf a little more desirable.
The biggest improvement is in the equipment. The traditional dials (speedometer and rev counter) can be replaced by a large (12.3 inch) display. The advantage of this being that the driver can choose which information is shown at what time. During a fast drive the rev counter can be centre stage; when driving in unknown areas the satnav can be the most important item.
The display in the centre console grew (9.2 inch for the top model, 6.5 inch for the base model) and can now be controlled by gestures. The sensor that previously only registered the proximity of a hand, now also registers movement. That's why it's important not to swipe in front of, but just underneath, the screen. Next, the radio station can be changed without even looking at the screen. Other than that, possibilities are limited, but it's an interesting start to a new user interface.
As of now the Golf supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to safely use all smartphone functions while driving. If so desired the car can act as a hotspot, so that all occupants can share its Internet connection. That same connection is also used by CarNet"; a digital assistant that can provide help in case of emergencies, breakdowns or simply locating a parked car.
As far as Autozine is concerned the most important new feature is "Traffic Jam Assist", which enables semi-autonomous driving. If the car is equipped with an automatic gearbox, the Golf will brake and accelerate automatically up to 60 km/h. A test proves this works flawlessly. When reversing with a trailer the Golf can also take over the steering wheel.
The renewed Golf doesn't have renewed suspension. As ever, the car offers a perfect mix of comfort and sportiness. Depending on the trim level three drive modes are available, which make the Golf more sporty, comfortable or economical. The effect of these modes is noticeable, yet not as obviously as with other brands.
Handing is still good, but in this field the Golf is still just average.
Both the 1.4 TSI and the 1.6 MPI engine will be replaced by a new 1.5 TSI engine. Volkswagen does so because of Chinese law (where engines with a displacement greater than 1.5 litres are taxed more) and to clean up the list of available versions (fewer different versions means lower production costs).
Of course, the new engine features the latest technologies, like cylinder on demand (turning off two cylinders when little power is required) and a "sailing mode". The latter means that the automatic gearbox selects neutral gear when releasing the throttle, while power steering and braking continue to work. Also the new engine uses a so-called "Miller"-cycle, which makes the engine more frugal.
The test drive proves this new 1.5 TSI engine is a true asset. At low speeds the engine is torque strong and driving noise is minimal. The lower power output that comes with the use of the Miller-cycle can't be noticed. When releasing the throttle in eco-mode the Golf keeps moving effortlessly as if it is weightless!
Yet, at first the value of the new engine seems to be marginal because the current "1.0 TSI BlueMotion" is also quiet, comfortable and even more frugal. The true value of the 1.5 TSI becomes apparent when flooring the car. Pressing the throttle slightly deeper has little effect, but when putting the pedal to the metal the Golf 1.5 TSI turns out to be spritely fast.
The Volkswagen Golf has been renewed for generation 2017. From now on, all-new (safety) features are available on the Volkswagen Golf. The Golf even takes it one step further by introducing brand new technologies. Some of those are just gimmicks (gesture control), some are highly useful (semi-autonomous driving, sailing mode).
Because Volkswagen chooses not to introduce these technologies in a top model, but rather on the most popular model, it means a radical improvement for a vast group of buyers. This means that the car that was once the standard, is now the forerunner. In other words: the new norm is innovation.