This new Golf family is set to take on some very established players in the compact segment…
The new seventh generation VW Golf arrives later this spring with a 2015 model designation.
I have already had a chance to drive three examples of the new edition in Europe so I can offer you a sneak peek at what this very popular VW has going for it before it arrives here.
The all-new car might look like the previous Golf but it is built on a platform that is shared across the VW group and represents a massive investment for the German manufacturer.
This new platform, called MQB, enables the engineers to build all kinds of new products, be they bigger, smaller, wider or taller. What went into the design of the Golf represents a big step forward for Volkswagen as the latest model is 100kg lighter than the outgoing car but it is bigger, stiffer and safer than before.
It could be argued that the new Golf looks too much like the older model but interacting with this new product quickly displays a level of refinement and finish that might be found in an upmarket Audi product. (This MQB platform is shared with the all-new Audi A3).
Starting at $18,995, the base Golf is priced right in the heart of the compact market but this car sports a fully independent suspension, direct injection turbocharged engine and more power than much of the competition, at 170hp. The Golf GTI is my personal favourite due to the bad-boy looks, bigger wheels and improved engine and suspension. It starts at $27,995. The hot-hatch Golf R will arrive about a year after the Golf and GTI and will come in at roughly the same price as the last R, right around $40,000 but fully loaded.
The upside to having a slightly bigger platform is interior space and the cabin of the latest Golf does feel bigger, especially side-to-side. The centre console is wider and the dash is fitted with all-new switches and dials. Once again, the feel and look is almost Audi quality. Having a chance to drive the base car all the way up to the Golf R showed just how good the base car is. The only difference is the sportier seats and splashier trim on the more expensive cars, but the overall design is the same from car to car and all exemplify the simple, yet elegant approach VW takes with all its interiors. Another plus is a larger centre screen that features upgraded graphics and radio interface for a pleasant driving experience.
Gone is the old 2.5-litre. 5-cylinder, replaced by an all-new 1.8-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder base engine. This engine too produces 170 but is more efficient, responsive and features state of the art technology. In the compact set, this kind of technology is unheard of at the roughly $19,000 asking price. Taking it up a notch is the legendary Golf GTI, now with 210hp from a new 2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder. I had a shot driving this last year in Austria and I can say without question, this combination is fantastic. The 210hp might seem like less than other sports hatches but the torque is wonderful and combined with the unflappable new platform and lighter weight, the car just does everything right. The Golf R is the ultimate Golf with roughly 300hp and an all wheel drive system. The same system is used in the all-new Audi S3 but this car comes fully loaded and will be roughly $4,000 less than the starting price of the S3. A smart shopper might want to wait for the R over the S.
This new Golf family is set to take on some very established players in the compact segment. With a hatchback design, this car has always been a more practical design than sedans like the Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla. With superb road manners, advanced engines and German engineering, the starting price looks like a winner. A big reason for this is the Golf is assembled in Mexico and these cars come into Canada without duty, (Thanks NAFTA) so VW added more content and kept the price low. The good news for diesel lovers is that the TDI engine will be available right out of the gate and now represents about 50 percent of Golf sales. This engine too has been modified to make it as fuel efficient as possible. All told, the Golf is more polished car than much of the competition and offers a trim level and price for all types of buyers, from basic to flat-out performance.
Power: 1.8L turbo with 170hp, 2.0L turbo with 210hp, 2.0L turbo with 300hp and 2.0L diesel.
Fill-up: Not available yet.
Sticker price: $18,995-$40,000