The tagline for the launch of Volkswagen’s new Golf commercial is “If you could”. The ad, shown to South African media in Port Elizabeth, poses such questions to the viewer as “if you could kiss only one person for the rest of your life, who would it be?” and “if you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?” – all with various answers from random members of the public. Of course, the final question is answered for the viewer when a seventh generation Golf rolls into view out of a cloud of smoke. Volkswagen would like you to think that you don’t need another car, but is the Volkswagen Golf 7 really that good?
Well it goes without saying that the Golf has been a CAR Top 12 segment winner for years, but just as new Korean and American upstarts have started making waves VW has countered with the latest iteration of its volume seller.
Sharper edges, yet elegant
Andreas Mindt, who was part of the Golf 7 design team, made the trek from Europe all the way to The Friendly City, to explain to members of the local press the details of the numerous changes, inside and out. Besides actually being longer, lower and wider than the Golf 6, the new Golf’s horizontal design creases in the front and along the profile add to the perception of the Golf not only being more low-slung than before but also more luxurious.
Despite the increase in size, the Golf 7 weighs in at an average of 100 kg lighter than its predecessor thanks to the wizardry of VW’s engineers and the use of the new MQB platform. That increase in size also means that the wheelbase has been moved forward slightly, increasing the amount of room that can be used in the cabin as well as improving boot space.
The focus of the interior controls has been turned slightly more toward the driver, while the materials used throughout the cabin lend it an impressive perceived quality that has yet to be touched by the Golf’s rivals, from the feel and finish of the cloth upholstery, to the substance of even the interior plastics.
Punchy, yet frugal four-cylinder engines
Three turbocharged engines can be had right away, a 1,2 TSI (available only in entry-level Trendline guise) that produces 77 kW at 5 600 r/min and 175 N.m of torque from 1 500 r/min, a 1,4 TSI (in Trendline and Comfortline trim) that produces 90 kW at 5 000 r/min and 200 N.m of torque at 1 500 r/min. The 1,4 TSI Highline produces 103 kW at 4 500 r/min and 250 N.m at 1 500 r/min, while the 2,0 TDI is also only available in Highline trim and produces 110 kW at 3 500 r/min and 320 N.m of torque at 1 750 r/min. The range-topping petrol engine, the 1,4 TSI in the Highline model, no longer features a supercharger as was previously the case. No engine in the Golf range uses a supercharger. All models do boast Volkswagen’s BlueMotion stop/start and brake energy regeneration technology though.
The manual gearboxes, available on all models except the 1,4 TSI Highline are six-speed, with the 2,0 TDI Highline sharing the same number of ratios – but in DSG form. The 1,4 TSI Highline also boasts a DSG transmission, in seven-speed form. All the powertrain options are Euro5 compliant, with CO2 emissions ranging from 114 g/km for the 1,2 TSI to 121 g/km for the 1,4 TSI Highline, with combined average fuel consumption figures ranging from 4,5 litres/100 km to 5,3 litres/100 km for the 2,0 TDI Highline and 1,4 TSI Highline, respectively.
Comprehensive spec levels
The passive and active safety systems list is impressive, as befitting the Golf’s status as a segment leader. These include a multi-collision brake assist system, which automatically applies the brakes after a collision to minimize the chance of a second impact, dual front, side and curtain airbags (with an additional knee bag for the driver), and ISOFIX anchor points. Optional extras include automatic high-beam control Light Assist, park distance control, the self-parking Parallel Park Assist and a rear-view camera.
The rest of the features round off-what are rather comfortable packages across the range, including the standard fitment of a 5-inch touchscreen multimedia system with MP3/CD compatibility, SD card slot and eight speakers (Highline models get a more comprehensive 5,8-inch touchscreen with USB slot), four cup holders, remote central locking, and anti-theft alarm with ultrasonic interior monitoring.
Class-leading on the road
I drove the 90 kW 1,4 TSI back to Cape Town so the new Golf could be put through the CAR road test procedure immediately after the launch, and was impressed to say the least. Loaded with three adults and their luggage, the Golf was never out of its depth, pulling at least 400 kg of extra mass effortlessly even in its highest ratio. At the national limit, NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) is not even a concern and the handling is neutral and predictable. With an average speed of 97 km/h, I managed to bring the Golf home on a single tank of fuel – and got 781 km from its 50-litre belly and an average consumption figure of 6,4 litres/100 km (with a range of 20 km still showing on the trip computer).
Look out for a detailed road test in the March issue of CAR to find out what the rest of the team thought about the new Golf, and see how it fared against its segment rivals in the Top 12 awards feature.
Prices (from 4 February 2013)
|1,2 TSI Trendline 6-speed manual1,4 TSI Trendline 6-speed manual1,4 TSI Comfortline 6-speed manual1,4 TSI Comfortline 7-speed DSG
2,0 TDI Comfortline 5-speed manual
1,4 TSI Highline 6-speed manual
2,0 TDI Highline6-speed DSG
|R233 800R246 700R264 900R279 400
All of the above prices are inclusive of VAT and Emissions tax.
All models come with a 5 year/90 000 km service plan, 3 year/120 000 km warranty and 12-year anti-corrosion warranty as standard. Service intervals are every 15 000 km..
While we prepare our own video review, here’s what the international media has to say about the new Golf 7.