Golf 7: The best of 2013


This is the most important car to be launched in South Africa during 2013: the seventh iteration of VW’s wildly popular Golf. There are many points of irony to ponder concerning Golf. Although it’s VW’s marquee hatchback offering, the smaller Polo’s naming convention denotes greater associated sophistication.

Since Golf went all-wheel independent with its wheel attachment technology (in the late 1990s, with Golf4) any semblance of Golf being a people’s car was vanquished. It’s a premium product with refinement and build quality usually only found amongst the big three German brands (Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz). What is new with the Golf7 and why should it matter to you?

Well, the platform is Group VW’s all new MQB architecture (shared with A3) so this is no Golf6.5, but very much a ground-up, all-new bit of engineering. Although it’s bigger and roomier inside (thanks to the 59mm greater wheelbase), Golf7 manages to be 100kg lighter than the 6.

How’d VW manage that? Very, very clever metallurgists and engineers who happen to speak German and love working overtime. New Golf7: lighter, slightly bigger and with expertly calibrated suspension attached to the MQB platform.

As a result it’s rather more stately to drive than any other comparable FWD hatchback – except, perhaps, its sibling rival from Audi, the A3. Engines are the familiar fare of TSI and TDI derivatives. There’s the 1.2 TSI (77kW) but the one to have is undoubtedly the 1.4 TSI in perky 103kW/250Nm trim.

The latter is only available as a six-speed manual; so if you are lazy and prefer VW’s rather accomplished DSGs, you’ll need to go for one of the less powerful petrol engines, or the 2.0 TDi (110kW), which runs a six-speed DSG to roll the front wheels.

The inevitable raft of performance models (GTi around mid-year and a GolfR a few quarters after that) should satisfy demand for road racing performance. Golf7, in the main, majors on refinement and Audi A-something type (read “big car”) feel.

It’s so quiet, so composed and so sorted as to render most Japanese and European FWD hatchback rivals consigned to the criticism of being way too under-engineered.

Debits? Well, it looks a bit too generic, but that’s the compromise when evolving one of the automotive world’s most familiar shapes. And it would be nice to have a more equitable spread of seven-speed DSG transmission options.

A particular highlight, although it’s quite a small item, is that Golf7 finally ushers itself into the full digital convergence by having, wait for it … an USB port. Yes, no more SD-card-only awfulness, you can finally charge your phone and power a SATNav in-car. If God truly is in the details, Golf7 is anointed.

Entry level is R233 800 for the 1.2 TSI, topping-out at R334 800 for the 2.0 TDi in 110kW trim. Obviously all this sophistication does not come cheap, but it very much is the hatchback to have. With Golf7 being this good, expectations for a religious experience whilst driving the GTi and R derivatives are very high. – Top Gear SA

October 2013
« Sep   Nov »