For years it seemed like Volkswagen had perfected the family hatchback recipe, as the VW Golf saw off rival after rival. However, the most recent version has been squeezed by the more practical Skoda Octavia and the classier Audi A3, so this update is timely.
Visual changes are limited to restyled bumpers, new LED head and taillights, and Audi-style 'animated' indicators which flow in the direction you’re turning. But there are bigger changes inside, where you can now specify a giant 9.2in touchscreen infotainment system which dominates the dashboard (on the outgoing car the biggest option is a 6.5in screen).
This new range-topping system also lets you use hand gestures to control the stereo and accept or decline phone calls, a feature that’s previously been available only on BMW’s luxurious 5 Series and 7 Series saloons.
What’s more, you’ll be able to specify the Golf with Volkswagen’s Active Info Display, which swaps the traditional instruments for a second screen which can be configured to display a sat-nav map and other useful information directly in front of the driver.
What safety equipment will the 2017 VW Golf be available with?
It’s not just the infotainment technology that’s been upgraded. Since 2012, most Golfs have come with an autonomous braking system that can automatically apply the brakes in town if the car in front stops and you fail to notice. However, it will now recognise pedestrians, too.
Combine it with Traffic Jam Assist, and the revised Golf will also follow the car in front, accelerating and braking as needed, and even making steering inputs to keep itself in lane. This system works up to speeds of about 37mph.
What engines will the 2017 VW Golf be available with?
Most of the engines from today’s Golf are due to be carried over, but the 2017 car will be the first to get a new turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol unit. A replacement for today’s 1.4, this produces 148bhp and can shut down cylinders when they’re not needed, saving fuel.
Shortly after launch, an even more efficient 129bhp Bluemotion version of the 1.5 will be added to the range. A mild-hybrid powertrain, which is said to return over 60mpg in real-world conditions, could be in the pipeline for the future. The system would boost performance and economy, without pushing up the price to the level of traditional hybrids.
A facelifted version of the electric e-Golf is likely to go on sale at the same time as the regular car. This will feature a more advanced battery, which will boost its driving range to around 186 miles – 68 miles farther than the current model.
Golf buyers who are more interested in speed will be able to choose from two GTI models: a 217bhp standard version and the 237bhp GTI Performance.
How much will the 2017 VW Golf cost?
On average prices for the new Golf are £650 lower than before. The starting price of £17,625 for the cheapest Golf, the S 1.0 TSI 85 PS three-door model that can be ordered from 2 March, remains the same, but it gains new techonolgy and improved connectivity.
SE trim level prices start at £18,715 for the 1.0 110bhp three-door, and SE Nav starts at £19,465. Golf GTI prices start at £27,865 in three-door manual form, while the top of the range Golf R five-door with DSG gearbox is the priciest Golf hatchback, costing £33,935. New Golf models still undercut equivalent versions of the rival Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series.
Prices for the new Gold estate start at £20,370 for the 1.4 TSI and rise to £34,985 for the Golf R estate.
Fuel economy and emissions figures are also competitive, giving this revised car all the ingredients needed to put it among the best family hatchbacks, although it remains to be seen whether it can replace the Octavia at the very top of the class.
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