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, but two dials: one for volume control and the other for scrolling through lists or zooming in and out of maps (with sat-nav fitted).
The menus are easy to figure out, so you won't need to resort to the handbook to connect your phone or set the radio station presets. The one annoying feature is the screen automatically brings up extra icons when it senses an approaching finger – this is rather distracting. The good news is that you can disable this and leave those icons permanently displayed .
True, rivals such as the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series have more intuitive rotary dial-controlled infotainment systems, which are less distracting to use on the move, but at least the Golf’s touchscreen is responsive, with well-sized icons. 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 (optional on some trims).
Every version gets at least a DAB radio, Bluetooth and a USB socket, while the standard eight-speaker stereo produces crisp sounds and resists distortion well. SE trim adds Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink, which displays selected smartphone apps and lets you control them using the touchscreen. However, you'll need to upgrade to SE Navigation trim or above to get a built-in sat-nav.
An optional system, called Discover Navigation Pro, brings a larger 9.2in screen and includes gesture control, which allows you to scroll through menus and change radio stations or playlists using mid-air hand movements. This gimmick doesn't work very well, though, and the larger-screened system is expensive, so we wouldn't bother.