Launched: VW Golf & GTi

Volkswagen’s Golf range continues to set the trend – we attended the recent press launch.

When thinking about the Golf, my personal recollection is the vivid memory of my childhood friend, whose father owned a Golf GTi Mk2. It became a family member, a car that stayed in the family for 18 years. At the end, the car and family only separated due to unfortunate circumstances. In fact, until today it is likely that you’ll hear a similar story from GTi (or Golf) owners.

Why is this the case and why do we stumble upon the Golf GTi brand so frequently? Why have 33 million Golfs found homes in the past 43 years (35 years in South Africa)?

Well, Volkswagen South Africa invited us to see for ourselves. We would get two days and 600km on the open roads from Port Elizabeth to Graaf-Reinet just to experience the new Golf Mk 7 (facelift) range.

Stretching the Golf line-up

Expanding the range to a 1-litre 81kW/200Nm Comfortline and Trendline (manual), VW also increased the quality of the line-up. The 1-litre also features a six-speed gearbox and is good for 4.8L/ 100km.

Each car in the range will now be fitted with LED rear lights and an infotainment system.

The customer will also have the choice to fit an optional 9.2” touchscreen with gesture control. All models are fitted with BlueMotion technology, new bumper designs and LED daytime running lights (which are optional, standard on GTi).

GTi will also sport a ‘flowing’ indicator function, similar to many (sister company) Audi models. The GTi also has two chrome tailpipes. The most significant changes have to be said, are the LED lights and the radiator design. Driving the GTi feels fast with the DSG gearbox changing cogs without you even realising it.

Where the other models in this range can reach the 100km/h mark somewhere between 9.1 and 9.9 seconds, the GTi does so in 6.4. The speed will keep climbing and finally reach the 248km/h (governed) limit.

Switching the car into a more comfortable driving mode will introduce a whole different atmosphere; the gear ratios appear shorter, yet effective enough to give a combined fuel consumption of 6.4l/100km.

Even in “Sport” mode it has to be said that the suspension is comfortable enough to take on bumpy roads and please any enthusiastic driver.

The optional 19” wheels might provide a harder ride than the standard 18” (Milton Keynes alloy) wheels, but even this is no matter for concern.

Inside the GTi, its front bucket seats must surely be one of the most comfortable pairs in this market segment. Legroom at the front and rear is adequate for people with a length of 1.8m; a remarkable feat for a hatchback.

Additional to the infotainment system, further information on driving, navigation and driver assistance functions can also be displayed on the graphic areas of the speedometer. A good feature to help the driver keep their eyes on the road.

The new Golf, as the initiator of several technologies, will also be fitted with keyless entry and start, ABS, ESC, ACC, Front assist with City Emergency Braking, Blind spot monitor, rear traffic alert, park assist, driver alert system, reversing camera and trailer assistant. According to VW, this is only phase one of four to eventually introduce self-driving cars and highly secure systems.

What do I get with the GTi?

The numerous other standard features on the GTi include: sports suspension, progressive steering, automatic climate control called “climatronic”, heated front seats, automatic high-beam assistant, dynamic cornering lights, app connect and voice control.

Why do we like this car so much?

Because it’s red… Actually, it does not only come in red, but also a range of other colours such as white, grey and black.

To be more serious, seeing and driving the new GTi for the first time just helped us to realise why it covers about 55% of all Golf sales in Southern Africa and why we at NamWheels are so fond of the performance car in the Golf stable.

The design of the GTi is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Arriving at a drag strip/circuit would definitely worry your competitors. Yet, driving your in-laws along the beachfront on a Sunday would not give them any suspicion of your alternative activities in your spare time… like the occasional shenanigans at your favourite traffic light.

Overall, we have to admit that the entire updated Golf range surprises us. Expanding the range with a cost-effective 1.0 TSi showcases exactly what Volkswagen has in mind. By returning to its foundations, VW follows a strong pillar of creating “the people’s car”. The German equivalent of that phrase is “Volkswagen”.

This is exactly what they have done with the new Golf range. It brings the vehicle back to its roots, closer to the user. Rather than just being a car, the Golf may just become an additional family member.

Having so much more in every car should then also increase the price?

No. In fact, Volkswagen will bring out the Golf range with so much more, but also with a smaller entry-level price. The basic Golf will not be “naked” at all.

Prices range from about 300 to over N$500,000 and all cars in the updated range come with a five year / 90,000km service plan, three year / 120,000km warranty and a 12 year anti-corrosion warranty.

The new Golf R and GTD will be introduced in July 2017.

Golf VII Prices (June 2017):

1.0 TSi 81kW Trendline (M) N$ 301,000
1.0 TSi 81kW Comfortline (M) N$ 345,000
1.4 TSi Comfortline (DSG) N$ 395,000
2.0 TSi GTi (DSG) N$ 510,000

The Golf range will also come with:

  • 5 year/90 000km service plan
  • 3 year/ 120 000km warranty
  • 12 year anti-corrosion warranty

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