The Volkswagen Golf has benefited from a significant upgrade, now comes the updated GTI and R performance variants.
Like the standard cars in the Golf range, the 7.5 versions of the sporty offerings welcome a number of new and additional features, and some styling tweaks too.
Best of all, prices for 2018 remain the same across both offerings.
We will bring you a launch review of the all-wheel drive Golf R tomorrow(Golf R review under embargo), in the meantime I can let you know about how I found the GTI.
Firstly, don’t expect an entirely different car – it isn’t.
Nor did it need to be. The Volkswagen Golf GTI has proven time and again to be an excellent performer that has long brought both practicality and reasonable pricing in equal measures with fun and sportiness.
The big change is the addition of an extra ratio in the seven-speed dual-clutch auto transmission.
After sampling the GTI and the R I can safely say that the GTI, not surprisingly, is the easier car to live with.
For me, as someone who drives on Sydney roads, generally considered among the worst on offer in any of the capital cities, the Golf GTI would be the more liveable offering.
The difference? The ride between the two – the GTI enjoying 18” alloys, 45 series tyres and slightly less firm springs (the R getting a firmer ride to also cater for the different dynamics of rear-wheel drive).
The end result is a car that still offers excellent handling and reassuring grip and at levels that are most likely more than adequate for the car buyer wanting a sporty feel, but not a full-on track day type offering.
Manual or auto? I’ll leave that up to you.
Naturally, the manual is a more enjoyable drive (especially outside the city), but the updated/improved seven-speed DSG is not a compromise.
There’s really only one small complaint – the location of the drive mode select button.
The left-hand side of the console positioning would work nicely in a left-hand drive Golf, not so here in Australia though.
The button is obscured when the auto transmission selector is in drive (as the photo shows) and that means you have to peak around the shifter to make a change.
Frustratingly, as you can see, there are empty button slots on the right-hand side of the console.
Rear-seat legroom and space in general in the back isn’t huge, while boot space is reasonable.
You can lay the rear seat down, though not completely flat.
General drive observations include very little wind noise and tyre noise, good visibility only let down by fairly small wing-mirrors, and a nice seating position.
There are certainly no complaints about the new infotainment system – it’s a lot faster than the systems of old in Volkswagen models, and the graphics are nice and crisp and clear.
If you can find the extra dollars, make you sure you consider the optional Infotainment Pack as this brings the full digital instrument panel – a really nice finishing touch on your new Golf.
A pat on the back too for Volkswagen with the standard inclusion of Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB).
As you might expect, Volkswagen’s Golf 7.5 features a full five-star ANCAP safety rating.
Summing it up; If the GTI is any indication the new/revised Golf is sure to find plenty of happy Aussie owners.
The Golf GTI wasn’t broken and thus the little tweaks that have been made have only served to make an already likeable, fun and well-priced offering an even more attractive proposition.
I’ll bring you my first drive impressions of the 2018 Volkswagen Golf R at midday (AEST) tomorrow.
NUTS and BOLTS – 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI
- Engine: 2.0 litre turbo-petrol producing 169kW/350Nm
- Transmission: Six-speed manual or seven-speed auto
- Safety: Five stars
- Warranty: Three years
- Origin: Germany
- Price: from $41,490 (manual) and $43,990 (auto)