This is the new 2017 model year Volkswagen Golf. No, really… it is.
Although VW describes the 2017 car as a ‘major update’ exterior changes are remarkably subtle, with new bumpers front and rear, new front wings, new wheel designs and new colours.
The only real distinguishing features are full LED headlights on some models, plus full LED tail-lights across the range, with top-spec models gaining sequential indicators.
More obvious changes can be found inside, however.
The Golf gains the fully digital instrument cluster from the Passat, with a 12.3-inch display with a 1440 x 540 resolution. It offers a choice of profiles – Classic, Consumption & Range, Efficiency, Performance & Driver Assistance, and Navigation. The latter, for example, moves the speedo and rev counter to the sides to create more room for the central rolling map display, which offers both 2D and 3D modes.
Although some models make do with conventional analogue instruments, the digital cluster – dubbed Active Info Display – can be specified across the range as an option.
Also available is an updated media and infotainment system, called ‘Discover Pro.’ It features a 9.2-inch display with a 1280 x 640 resolution that, as well as voice and touch input, now responds to gesture control, allowing the driver to change radio stations or scroll through a playlist by waving their hand across the screen.
Lesser systems now benefit from larger screens of either 6.5- or 8.0-inches in size, both with resolutions of 800 x 480.
Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and the largely redundant MirrorLink are available as part of an optional App Connect package.
Continuing the technological update is the introduction of Traffic Jam Assist: on DSG-equipped Golfs, it maintains the car’s position within its lane as well as its distance from the vehicle in front, although in the interests of safety the driver must keep their hands on the wheel.
A new Emergency Assist function is capable of bringing the vehicle to a stop and warning following traffic should it detect the driver has become incapacitated, while the City Emergency Braking system has been updated to detect pedestrians wandering into the vehicle’s path.
A new Trailer Assist function can reverse a car with trailer automatically, with the driver directing the vehicle by way of the mirror adjustment joystick and modulating the brake and accelerator as appropriate.
An updated Park Assist system can now also park forwards semi-automatically in parking bays, as well as parallel and reverse park.
Much of the existing engine range is carried over, although there is a new 1.5-litre TSI Evo turbocharged petrol engine with 150PS and 250Nm at 1,500 rpm. It features cylinder deactivation and is said to achieve CO2 emissions of 110 g/km and economy of up to 57.6 mpg.
A 130PS BlueMotion version will follow later, and it makes use of a new coasting function that completely switches off the engine when the driver lifts off the accelerator.
The Golf GTI receives a small (10PS) power hike to 230PS, with the Performance version rising to 245PS.
Meanwhile, a new seven-speed DSG gearbox will gradually replace the six-speed units.
The new 2017 model year Golf is expected to arrive in showrooms next spring.