Every version, including the entry-level S trim, gets at least an 8.0in, high-definition, glass-fronted colour touchscreen. Either side of it are touch-sensitive shortcut buttons, so you can flit between the main function menus, and two rotary switches: one for volume control and the other for scrolling through lists or zooming in and out of maps (with sat-nav fitted) if you don’t want to do this via the touchscreen. The logical menus are easy to figure out without resorting to the handbook to connect your phone or set the radio station presets. The one annoying feature is the screen automatically brings up extra icon buttons when it senses an approaching finger, which is rather distracting. The good news is you can disable this and leave said icons displayed constantly.
Overall we’d still prefer a rotary-controlled arrangement like BMW’s iDrive or Audi’s MMI system, because they’re less distracting to use on the move. But at least the Golf’s set-up is responsive, with well-sized icons that make it one of the best of its ilk. You can also accept an incoming phone call simply by pressing a clearly marked button on the steering wheel, or dial a number using the voice control.
Every version gets a DAB radio, Bluetooth, aux-in and USB sockets, while the standard eight-speaker stereo produces crisp sounds and resists distortion well. SE adds Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink, which displays selected smartphone apps and lets you control them from the touchscreen – including it’s sat-nav. Only SE Navigation models and above come with in-built sat-nav, and this upgrade also includes speed-limit display and online features.
An optional system, called Discover Navigation Pro, has a bigger 9.2in screen and includes gesture control. The latters a bit of a gimmick really – fine for showing off to your friends, but it’s so much easier to change radio station or music track conventionally, rather than by hit-and-miss, mid-air hand movements.