One sign of a car’s popularity is the amount of times you see one on the road
Using that theory, the Volkswagen Golf has to sit at the higher end of the hatchback spectrum. To test that we try a facelifted Mk7 Golf.
Like all facelift motors, it’s a revamped version of the current model rather than a complete overhaul. The changes here include a few cosmetic improvements and tech upgrades.
The previous model was far from ugly, but this newer Golf looks improved with new front and rear bumper designs and LED daytime running lights – full LED headlights come as standard with the higher specs.
You can also opt for new colours, alloys and interior trims this time around. Although there are no major changes, it keeps the template up to date.
With more than 33 million – and counting – Golfs produced since its launch in 1974, there’s little doubt that the German carmaker has come up with a winning formula.
The mid-level engines are solid, without lacking in power or being too thirsty
Our model was dressed in the SE Nav trim and powered by VW’s newer 1.5-litre TSI Evo engine. With 148bhp, the turbocharged petrol unit has more power than you need in the lower revs and only tails off when you rise high up the counter.
The SE Nav spec also has Driving Mode Selection included. In ‘Normal’ it’s nippy and keen to get itself up to speed reasonably quick, but also does so smoothly and comfortably, while Sport mode sharpens the steering and acceleration.
In addition, you can add on the Dynamic Chassis Control that’ll allow for varying suspension settings. This combined with the seven-speed automatic gearbox helped get the most out of the 1.5-litre TSI.
Unless it’s the highest end of the speed scale that you’re after – the Golf GTI or Golf R – this engine is plenty.
It’s also equipped with Active Cylinder Management that closes off two of its cylinders to improve fuel economy – if you aren’t considering one of the pacier models a decent mpg score is probably high on your list of must haves.
The tech inside the biggest improvement
This facelifted Golf model features greater tech options than that of its predecessor. You can get Front Assist and Emergency Assist, that both alert you of potential collisions and apply the brakes if needs be.
Front Assist brakes the car if it senses an obstacle and you haven’t pressed the pedal in time, with Emergency Assist applying full brakes to bring the car to a complete stop.
Another on the list is Trailer Assist that aids reversing with a trailer. But we think the main feature has to be Traffic Jam Assist.
In heavy traffic, the car will automatically move with the car in front, accelerating and braking without your input – just bear in mind that this assist is only available with the automatic DSG gearbox.
Although these aren’t available as standard, they could prove immensely helpful and could even help lower an insurance premium.
You’ll be impressed by the upgraded infotainment setup
Attention has also been given on the inside – the infotainment systems now have bigger, higher-res screens.
The top-spec Discover Pro system can even be controlled with gesture control. Once you’ve got the hang of it you’ll be controlling your media apps without so much as a glance at the screen.
With the exception of the Golf S, all specs can also be fitted with the Active Info Display, similar to the Audi Virtual Cockpit.
The dials behind the steering wheel are replaced with a customisable 12.3-inch digital display, that allows you to tweak what info you see there.
Once a family hatchback favourite, in recent years the Golf has been building a growing list of trims and options that will appeal to a wider audience.
The wide range of optional extras take the Golf’s comfort and usability to another level, and if it’s not one of the performance models that you’re after the Golf SE Nav and 1.5-litre petrol engine would be a great choice.
Rosedale Leasing has deals on a range of Volkswagen Golf shapes and specs, from 1.5-litre SE Nav Hatchback reviewed here to the 2.0-litre GTD Estate. Find all of our current offers here.