VW Golf gets a mid-life facelift
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This is the new Golf that Volkswagen has been teasing us with. Yes, we did say new.
Even a double or triple take of these first-release images of the 2017 car make it hard to identify any differences to the Golf now on sale, but that's because this is only a mid-life facelift of Britain's second best-selling medium-size hatchback.
Though it might look the same, it does have a new infotainment system, automatic gearbox and semi-autonomous driving features. Here are the 10 new elements of the familiar-looking Golf you'll struggle to spot.
1. It's had some styling tweaks, says Volkswagen
It might be hard to see it from here, but there are some changes to the look of the Golf.
They're pretty much restricted to just the bumpers, though, with the lower part of the front grille adapted slightly. The lower intake on performance models -- the GTI and R -- wrap around the side vents in the bumper as well.
VW says the front wings are new to the facelifted version -- also hard to tell from a picture -- along with wheels and paint options, including blooming yellow.
2. The infotainment system has been upgraded
Every new Golf will now come with a dashboard screen as standard, with low-spec models getting a 6.5-inch display. It offers a much-needed upgrade on graphics, with a resolution double that of the screen you currently get in an entry Golf.
Move up the range and you're rewarded with an 8-inch screen, while the most expensive models get the Discover Pro 9.2-inch unit with voice commands, gesture control and a smartphone-like swipeable screen. The instrument panel can also be upgraded to the VW Group's latest digital "Active Info Display".
That's not all, though. You can connect your smartphone or tablet so it can be used as a control unit for the infotainment settings for passengers to use, charge compatible smartphones wirelessly and use apps such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on the go.
3. It has an emergency system in case you become incapacitated
Called Emergency Assist, it detects whether you're no longer making steering, braking and accelerating movements while the vehicle is in motion and has varying levels of alerts to notify the driver the system is about to take over.
If the driver remains unresponsive, it initiates an emergency stop, though not like the one you did in your driving test.
First, the hazard warning lights are activated, followed by a "gentle steering manoeuvre" to warn following drivers. The adaptive cruise control kicks in to stop the car careering into the back of traffic as the brakes are applied to bring the car to a standstill.
4. DSG auto transmission has an extra gear
Volkswagen will phase out the six-speed dual-clutch DSG gearbox and replace it with a new seven-speed option. The Golf will be one of the first models to get it.
5. There's a new engine on the block, too
An all-new 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine producing 148bhp has been added to the range. It has the same Active Cylinder Management as used on 1.4-litre units in the past. That means it shuts down two of the four cylinders when cruising in town to reduce emissions and improve fuel economy.
There'll be a Bluemotion version of this new motor too, which will have an output of 129bhp. There's no word on the fuel economy just yet.
6. Golf GTI: 'Hey, don't leave me out!'
With the arrival of the Golf R, the GTI is no longer the ultimate VW-branded hot hatchback. However, Volkswagen has still issued it with a small power increase -- the standard GTI now produces 227bhp (up from 216bhp) and the Performance edition shifts from 226bhp to a more potent 241bhp.
7. Reversing with a trailer just got easier
If you're towing a trailer or small caravan, at the press of a button you no longer have to worry about the tricky opposite-action steering requirement when reversing.
You can even control where the trailer ends up by adjusting the parking position using the display on the screen and a wing mirror switch that becomes your joystick. Clever.
8. It's a feast of LEDs
All Golfs will have LED headlights instead of Xenons, from 2017 onwards. The tail lights are also full LED, with the indicators upgraded to the direction-signalling ones (flashing from left to right if the right indicator is activated and vice-versa), seen already on Audi and Mercedes-Benz models.
9. It's a (semi) driverless car in traffic jams
This is a feature nation-covering reps will love -- called "Traffic Jam Assist". It uses the lane assist and automatic distance control to accelerate and decelerate itself at low speeds when you're stuck on the motorway.
10. Pedestrians are safer
That's because the "City Emergency Braking" feature can detect people walking across the road in front of the car.
Before, the object ahead had to be of significant size to trigger the system, but now it activates if someone wanders in front of you.
All Golf models, including Estate, GTE plug-in hybrid and performance models are subject to the upgrades.
The facelifted versions should be available in UK showrooms from February. Prices are expected to increase slightly on current models. The new models will arrive in New Zealand VW showrooms next year.