New tech par for the course

Wheels (Australia) - - Contents - DANIEL GARD­NER

VOLK­SWA­GEN’S revered Golf finds it­self at a de­fin­i­tive fork in the road. Does this midlife up­date of­fer an op­por­tu­nity to sharpen the price and prime the model to do bat­tle with like­able French, Ja­panese and South Korean con­tenders in the af­ford­able small-car arena?

Or does its com­pelling blend of qual­ity, driv­ing dy­nam­ics and style place it at the edge of the pre­mium Ger­man and Euro­pean ri­vals? Which way to turn?

Volk­swa­gen has made the de­lib­er­ate move to the lat­ter with an up­date that has in­creased the en­try level price a lit­tle, but boosted the value propo­si­tion by a lot, with new fea­tures and op­tions that make it an al­ter­na­tive to lower-level pre­mium of­fer­ings.

Un­like other brands that lure cus­tomers into show­rooms with bar­gain-base­ment vari­ants that re­quire sig­nif­i­cant time with the op­tions list to get the spec you ac­tu­ally want, the new base Golf 110TSI is, for many, all you may need or de­sire.

In­de­pen­dent rear sus­pen­sion, leather steer­ing wheel, 8.0-inch touch­screen, al­loy wheels, AEB and re­vers­ing cam­era are not of­ten seen pack­aged to­gether in a $ 23,990 small hatch, rarer still one from a Ger­man man­u­fac­turer. A dual-clutch auto takes the price to $ 26,490, but the power boost from 92kw to 110kw that forms part of the 7.5 up­date adds a gen­uine Gti-lite en­joy­ment when specced with the stan­dard sixspeed man­ual gear­box.

A Trend­line vari­ant ups the stakes with more kit, while a High­line tops the range, but VW fore­casts the mid-level Com­fort­line to at­tract the ma­jor­ity of sales from $ 28,990, or $1500 more for the wagon equiv­a­lent.

Like all sub-gti petrol vari­ants, the Com­fort­line has a 1.4-litre tur­bocharged four-cylin­der engine that has been squeezed to find an­other 18kw and 50Nm, and thatt in­crease has taken per­for­mance over the fine line be­tween ad­e­quate and in­volv­ing.

From a broader driv­ing dy­nam­ics per­spec­tive, noth­ing has changed and that’s a pos­i­tive, with the ex­cel­lent han­dling and ride char­ac­ter­is­tics of the fouryear-old Golf Mk7 con­tin­u­ing.

While many midlife facelifts are head­lined by a mild ex­te­rior re­design, the Golf’s aes­thetic makeover of hand­some LED light­ing and bumper fet­tling is of wel­come sec­ondary im­por­tance to the per­for­mance boost and log­i­cal tech up­date.

With a propo­si­tion as com­pelling as the Mk7, the Golf could have rested on its lau­rels un­til an all-new model was due, but this well-con­sid­ered up­date keeps VW’S small car firmly ahead of bud­get of­fer­ings and de­serv­ing of recog­ni­tion with the Mk7.5 nomen­cla­ture.

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