1) It’s the first semi-autonomous Golf
It might not look very different, but the facelifted Golf heralds some big tech developments. Most notably, you can option it to self-drive in stop/start traffic up to 37mph. This ‘Traffic Jam Assist’ relies on the lane departure warning system to keep the car in lane, with the odd input of automatic countersteer, and the Active Cruise Control to accelerate or brake to maintain safe distance from the car in front.
Like BMW’s 7-series, the driver must maintain regular contact with the steering wheel, else the system will down tools. You’ll also need to have specified the dual-clutch ’box, which will be upgraded from six to seven cogs for a more fuel-conserving spread of ratios. VW also says the self-parking system is improved to include semi-automated forwards parking in bays perpendicular to your lane.
2) You can control it with gestures
The three Golf touchscreens are being made bigger with a higher pixel count to improve clarity, and the black and white boggo screen phased out. The top spec infotainment – Discover Pro – encompasses a 9.2-inch glass screen which incorporates a menu of ‘virtual’ buttons down one side. All very iPad – as is the ability to flick through horizontal menus (such as radio stations, music artwork or phone contacts) using a swipe gesture in mid-air. The homepage can also be configured into three sections according to your preferences – just like in the new Megane. Damn you Renault!
3) Now the Golf gets the animated instrument binnacle
The Golf now gets the animated instrument binnacle, introduced on the TT by Audi and the Passat for Volkswagen. Dubbed ‘Active Info Display’ in VW marketing speak, a quick glance downwards and you’ll be able to view a 3D map in the instrument cluster, allowing you to play virtual fighter pilot. Steering wheel-mounted buttons enable you to switch between virtual tacho and speedo sizes, and toggle functions such as the trip computer, media, phone and so on. Naturally it will be a cost option – but it’s a tempting one, which retails for £585 on the Passat.
4) The GTI is reloaded
New design elements are immediately apparent on VW’s hot hatch. The red radiator grille trim now sweeps into the headlamp cluster, with small hockey stick ‘winglets’ encircling the dual LED headlamps (the GTE hybrid gets a similar finish, but in its trademark blue). The lower bumper is tweaked in line with the Clubsport’s, while the rear tailpipes are bigger bore. The turbocharged 2.0 litre produces a smidgen more power: up 10 horses to 227bhp in standard guise. That’s the output of the pre-facelifted car’s £1000 Performance Pack version, which also included bigger brakes and a mechanical limited-slip diff. With the facelift, the Performance Pack’s peak power climbs to 242bhp.
5) There’s a new four-cylinder turbocharged ‘Evo’ engine…
Yes, but it’s not tuned to its 440bhp limits, old school Mitsubishi-style – instead the 1.5 TSI Evo engine offers far more modest outputs. With direct injection, variable turbine geometry turbo, the Miller combustion cycle and cylinder shutdown, the new four-cylinder majors on fuel economy. The 1.5 is available in two states of tune: 150 and 130PS. The higher output, 148bhp engine produces 184lb ft at just 1500rpm, and posts 57.6mpg on the combined cycle. The lower output model will power a 128bhp BlueMotion model, with an extended coasting ability to help achieve 61.4mpg combined.
6) The new lamps
True to form, Volkswagen’s cosmetic enhancements can take a little spotting on the regular Golf. The radiator grille’s chrome strip and lower bumper venting is widened, to enhance the proportions. But this facelift is all about the lamps. The daytime running lights now use LEDs, with more LEDs replacing xenon lamps on higher spec models. And all Golfs – including the new wagon – employ LEDs in the redesigned rear lamp cluster. Some models get animated, pulsing indicators too.
7) It knows who you are
It’s not just your mobile provider that’s invading your privacy, your next Golf could learn your peccadilloes too. Thanks to a personalised key, merely unlocking the car can cause the driver’s seat to slide to your favoured position (if you have memory seats), with your choice of lighting, climate and instrument cluster among the functions that will be automatically activated. It’s the first step towards Volkswagen’s vision of having drivers log in, presented on the ID electric concept, so your preferences are downloaded from the cloud to tailor whichever car you’ve stepped into.
There are plenty more gizmos besides: Apple CarPlay, Volkswagen’s trailer assist, emergency braking incorporating pedestrian spotting, plenty of apps and Mercedes-style pre-safe – where the seatbelts are pre-tensioned and the windows opened a little to optimise the airbags for energy absorption – also appear on the Golf for the very first time.