The facelifted seventh generation Golf may only feature small exterior changes but the same cannot be said about the interior. Volkswagen’s family favourite features innovative gesture control technology for the infotainment system. Oooh, indeed.
The mid-life refresh of the current model gets new LED headlights, Audi-style indicators (they flow in the direction you are about to turn), a slightly altered grille, new bumpers and revised front wings. Around the back, it gets full LED taillights and a new bumper with integrated exhaust tips on the popular R-line styling package and although it doesn’t look strikingly different, this probably won’t be the case when the eighth generation is launched in 2018. Anyway, as for the engines, a new 1.5-litre petrol with cylinder-on-demand technology joins the current 1.0-litre petrol and 1.6- and 2.0-litre diesels. The new TSI 1.5 makes 148bhp but the Bluemotion version (which will join later) produces less power (128bhp) but is more frugal. VW has also replaced the six-speed automatic with a new seven-speed dual-clutch automatic which should also help improve efficiency. Meanwhile, the GTI gets a bump up in power; the 2.0-litre turbocharged four-pot now makes 230bhp (10bhp more than before) while the GTI Performance model now has 245bhp - but the really big news is the interior.
The top spec Golf gets a high-resolution 9.2in central screen (base models get a 6.5in system) which are controlled by touch and voice commands… and gesture control! We’ve tested similar systems before (BMW 7 Series) and loved it and can’t wait to see how VW’s works. Er, it’ll be by gesturing of course, but we wonder what sort of crazy movements we’ll need to make with our hands. That’s not all. It’ll feature VW’s Active Info Display digital dials which means the old rev counter and speedo are no more. In their place will be a 12.3in digital screen which can be configured in a bunch of different ways.
As for the safety features, the current model already packs autonomous emergency braking but the refreshed hatchback now offers traffic jam assist, trailer assist and a pedestrian monitoring function for the automatic braking.