The Mk7 Golf has been winning Australian hearts since it was introduced locally in 2013, but that was four years ago and some strong rivals have been catching up to its impressive package of value and style.
To keep its fists up in the small passenger car segment the company has introduced this, the Volkswagen Golf 7.5. It’s the first time Volkswagen has named a mid-life update with a decimal point, but is its four-year refresh worthy of such a bold move?
WHAT STANDS OUT?
On the outside, the Golf has been given a mild facelift with redesigned bumpers front and rear and a more noticeable upgrade to the lights, which are LED at the rear as well as the headlights on versions that previously had xenon lights.
With the exception of a top-spec 2.0-litre diesel, all variants retain a 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine, but the update has increased power from 92 to 110kW, while torque is up 50Nm to 250. Despite the upgrade, fuel consumption ranges from 5.7L/100km to just 5.4 depending on the body style and gearbox.
With a bigger budget, the top of the range Highline can be optioned with an R-Line package (as shown) which adds a unique 18-inch wheel set, a different body kit and sportier additions to the interior such as the D-shaped steering wheel and sports leather seats.
On the inside the Golf’s classy cabin is largely unchanged with top quality materials and design, but the most significant news is with the information and entertainment system.
The central screen has been up-scaled from 6.2- to 8.0-inches for all variants, with a tidier design, but an optional Infotainment pack boosts that to a huge 9.2-inch version available for Comfortline and Highline variants.
The pack also swaps conventional gauges that flank a central digital display, for a fully digital Active Info Display similar to the 12-inch Virtual Cockpit screen found in many Audi models.
For many brands in the small passenger segment, the entry level variant is often a little light on kit for most customers, but Volkswagen has taken a different approach with its most affordable Golf.
Standard equipment includes a large central screen, leather steering wheel, autonomous emergency braking, independent rear suspension, alloy wheels and a reverse camera.
Trendline and Comfortline variants cover the middle of the range with extra driver assistance and comfort features depending on your budget including automatic lights and wipers, navigation, larger wheels, comfort front seats and parking radar.
The Highline rounds out the top of the range with the most generous kit and the option of a 2.0-litre diesel engine with 110kW and a beefy 340Nm.
It brings luxury touches such as part leather interior, 17-inch wheels, keyless access and start and a sunroof.
Driving enthusiasts will be pleased to see a manual gearbox as standard for the 110TSI and Trendline hatches, while load luggers will welcome four wagon options – all with dual-clutch DSG automatic transmissions.
It might be the most affordable version, but the entry Golf 110TSI has the right level of equipment that would keep many owners happy. With the standard six-speed manual gearbox, the added power boost and fine handling, the entry Golf is fun and well equipped. Let’s call it GTI-lite.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Highline fitted with R-Line and Infotainment option packs transforms a sensible and humble hatch into a premium offering with the goods to worry an Audi A3 or Mercedes-Benz A-Class.
Some mid-life updates can seem a little like going through the motions and an excuse to push a tired model with a light redesign, but not the Golf.
A power boost has taken performance from adequate to involving, while the technology update has resulted in one of the sharpest information and entertainment packages in its class.
The revitalised Volkswagen Golf 7.5 is looking and performing as strong as ever.