Invariably, whether a Golf is good or bad doesn’t matter. Whenever Volkswagen launches a new one, it’s the new standard, the measure of just about all cars, the thing in between metric and imperial that everyone understands.
Today, Volkswagen’s halfway through the seventh generation of the Golf, which means it’s mid-life facelift time — and this is it, the new Mk7.2 Golf available in every flavour you can think of except diesel. Yeah, no, they… er, ran out of that.
In a 5,210-word release on the car, Volkswagen’s press department tippy-toed through every single syllable to mention the word ‘diesel’ exactly none times. We in the Middle East probably won’t mind though because the release does have a lot of other, better words, such as ‘more’ and ‘horsepower’.
Even if you would never tell by looking at it, seeing as Wolfsburg’s design department went missing a decade ago and no one ever reported the case, the Mk7.2 is actually a major update of the highest-selling Golf yet.
Despite the extra horsepower across the board though, it’s the cabin that impresses most — obviously, Volkswagen didn’t bother with the design, but this update includes a claimed largest display in class as well as gesture control like you get in a BMW 7 Series, now for the first time in a compact (and in a Volkswagen for that matter).
The top of the line Discover Pro infotainment system comes with the headline-grabbing 9.2in screen (8.0in in the current car) featuring increased resolution by about 30 per cent with 3D satellite navigation. Critically, all previous physical buttons and switchgear are replaced with all-haptic operation. Nothing on the market so far has fared better than a good old button that you simply push, so we will see if the Mk7.2 Golf’s attempt at a digital revolution in affordable cars works or not.
The hi-tech-kit theme continues with Volkswagen’s addition of a range of driver assistance systems, like the new traffic assist for semi-autonomous control in a jam, and myriad connectivity options.
Updated four-cylinder turbocharged engines range from a new 1.5-litre making its debut in the 2017 Golf with 150 horsepower, to the new Golf GTI bumped up by about 10bhp to 230bhp, which makes it a match for the current GTI Performance model. Speaking of which, the 2017 GTI Performance also boosts its power figure to 245bhp. A new seven-speed double-clutch transmission replaces all previous six-speed units, and Volkswagen threw in LED headlights replacing the current Xenons, and full LED taillights.
One of the neatest tricks of the Mk7.2 Golf — one we’re flabbergasted the industry hasn’t adopted much earlier — is the car’s smart key, which serves as your ID. This means that every time you get in the vehicle the Golf will remember your individual settings so you won’t be constantly restoring them. There’s also the added benefit, hopefully, of not having to deal with that haptic and gesture-control stuff too much.