I might have as well written this review even before I started driving the new Golf. I mean, the Golf MK7 is a predictable car and that is what four decades years and six generations of faith does to its seventh iteration. You come to know that if you turn the steering half a degree, the car will turn precisely two and a half times as much in the scale of things. And you know if you want to needle your way into that empty spot in the traffic jam before anyone else, you can do it. You also know if you wish to sweep down that sinuous flyover, you won’t have to pluck the rear seat occupants from the outer window glass – like bowls of overcooked dim-sum huddled together. Indeed, the Golf is a predictable car. But that doesn’t make it any less exciting!
UPSIDE: Confident handling, Stable at speeds, Driver-friendly cabin, Balanced space distribution, Excellent fuel figures
FLIPSIDE: Erratic radio reception, My test car had no navigation or rear view camera, No pronounced design change
THE PRICE: Golf S AED 80,500 / SE AED 84,500 / Golf SEL AED 99,900
Test version: AED 89,000
The MK7 is no exception to the Golf’s exceptional stability, both on straights and curves. Set your steering to define you path and the Golf will drift, drag, pull or sweep through it, which adds to the almost exhilarating character of the drive. Seriously, there are few cars of its size that can keep a straight face while skirting the speed limits on Emirates Road. And the best thing about the Golf’s driving dynamics is that it is swift and steady; but never rushed!
The way the car turns around in your palm – I mean how it makes abrupt turns just missing the tailspin threshold by the degree of its traction control – you really can play tango with this car. Even better than drifting is the way it gently drags its tail in and out of corners.
With 250 Nm of torque available across 1500 – 3500 rpm, the Golf doesn’t ever make you feel that a 1.6 L engine is driving you. The 138 bhp is metered to a 7-speed DSG transmission and the delivery is both seamless as well as instantly responsive, whether you are slipping up or down the cogs. The steering is responsive and smooth, in true Volkswagen character while the effective brakes reliably bring the car to a stop without even a hint of hesitation. The 0 to 100 in the new Golf was an easy 8.77 seconds.
The new Golf has an auto hold button, which is very handy for textbook drivers, because you don’t have to remember to pull your handbrake at every signal. It also doubles up as the hill descent button giving you enough time to pause and roll up. If there was a Traction Control Switch, it remained invisible to me. But then you won’t have to fiddle around with traction. The new Golf grips the road like sticky candy with just enough freedom to play by your rules.
The straight and clean sort of lines and a lower profile make the Golf look longer and more elegant though it overall maintains the familiar design. The new headlamps stand out with a sharper mould while the character line along the door are as though pinched off its sheet metal.
Though the windows follow a rising line, the view is broad and friendly, aided by the wide side mirrors that taper towards the end.
The black framing as well as the black tinted sunroof, especially in my white Golf gave a very nice contrast, adding to the already handsome design.
Cabin and Controls
The cabin has well-chosen rubber and hard plastic appointments that don’t look cheap; some even suggest carbon finesse. The new Golf uses fabric as well as a suede-like material that adds a bit of ‘premium’ to the cabin, and comfort of course.
The 7th generation Golf comes with a very handy communication feature and it is not one of those complicated gadgets but a simple reminder that flashes on the screen when you switch off the engine, to take your mobile along that is already connected by Bluetooth. Some other thoughtful cabins remind you to carry the key itself but the Golf doesn’t have to – the new Golf comes to life only with the key in place so once you switch off, you naturally have your key in hand.
The telephone is quite easy to use with the option to cue in your frequent favourites with the one touch operation. The entertainment system is pretty decent with the player tucked away neatly into the glove box. There is the option of SD cards and other accessories but the radio was often erratic in its reception.
Even at 89,000 dirhams, the Golf I drove did not have a rear view camera or navigation. But there were parking sensors that incorporated steering guidelines into the graphics. Electronic seat controls were absent too and the lumbar support is as basic as it gets – but at least it is there.
While the Golf cabin has made even the mid-seat passenger comfortable at the rear, the wider tunnel console and the positioning of the extended dashboard crams up the front a bit and that is bad news for size XL passengers with long legs.
The cabin is reasonably silent but for the occasional gust of wind that dances noisily around the A pillar and the quarter glass. The unpretentious engine doesn’t make itself heard unless you make full use of the sport mode and rush into the mid and high range RPM cycles. The Golf is still the family hatchback of choice with a whole bunch of safety features as standard. Besides, there are ISOFIX provisions as well as 3-point seat belts in the rear.
The essential Golf MK7
The Golf in its new avatar is still a cool hatch. There are few cars that mate driving pleasure to passenger endearment like the Golf does. The car handles the temperament of the road rather well just as it copes with your power demand. So much so that I wondered why should one even bother to spend 35 grand extra for the celebrated GTI. As of now, I think the MK7 can keep you really happy, at least until I drive the new GTI and bring you a new story.
Drive Courtesy: Volkswagen Middle East
Pictures: Sudeep Koshy