Published on July 16th, 2018 | by Subhash Nair


A Quick Look at The New Golf Family

A couple of weeks ago, we drove down to Johor Bahru with the new Volkswagen Golf family. This generation of Golf models are known as the “Golf 7.5”, as they’re a major update of the 7th generation, which was first shown in 2012. This facelift came to Malaysia just this March, so it’s still very fresh.

Just like before, there’s the standard model, the Golf TSI, the sportier Golf GTI and the all-out performance variant, the Golf R. There are other similarities too, but besides the general silhouette, much has been improved. But before we get too into things, let’s look at what’s new.

Let’s start with the Golf TSI.

  • It now follows Volkswagen’s new, slightly confusing nomenclature. So instead of calling it a 1.4 TSI, it’s now the 280 TSI. Still 150PS and 250Nm of torque.
  • You now get two variants of the standard TSI model – the Sportline and R-Line. These are two equipment levels – in terms of performance, they’re exactly the same.

  • The Sportline and R-Line have very different exterior packages. Bumpers, tailight graphics, skirts and more. Each have their own take on the Golf, but the R-Line is obviously more premium and sporty looking, while the Sportline goes for a more plain Jane look.

  • Both variants get an 8” Composition Media unit with Android Auto/Apple Carplay. Welcome to 2018.
  • The R-Line model gives you a full 12.3” active info display. No more analogue dials here.
  • You get 7 airbags as well as engine start/stop with regenerative braking
  • Most impressive of all is XDS, the electronic differential lock we saw in the 2-litre Passat. This is now standard on the Golf. Very nice.

Moving on to the best all-rounder, the Golf GTI

  • The 2-litre engine now produces 230PS and 350Nm of torque,10PS more, 0.1 second faster to 100km/h
  • The headlights are now full LED and adaptive, adjusting to steering input
  • Nice looking 18” wheels are found on this variant
  • Dynamic turn signals bring a touch of Audi-ness to the Golf GTI

  • The exterior is the most aggressive of the Golf variants. Red accents can be found across the front, and it also has a sportier bodykit and dual exhausts too
  • 12.3” active info display here too
  • Paddle shifters, of course
  • Active Chassis Control to soften or harden the dampers
  • 8” Discover Media infotainment unit

  • Interior ambient lighting give you a little more flair on the inside
  • Vienna leather seats with memory function

Finally, there’s the Golf R

  • The Golf R also has the 2-litre TSI, but here it produces 290PS and 380Nm of torque
  • You also get a very new 7-speed DSG with a wet clutch.

  • All wheel drive 4MOTION returns for maximum traction and minimum wheelspin
  • Quad tail pipes to go with that extra output.

  • Unlike the Golf GTI, the Golf R is less aggressive looking. It lacks the red accents and has a more restraint looking bodykit.

  • The infotainment is also a little better. Here you get a 9.2” Discover Pro Media unit

So, yes, a lot to digest. We spent most of our time in the Golf GTI. It proved to an exceptionally well-rounded car. Extremely comfortable on rough JB roads, yet packing enough of a punch to give many BMW owners a headache. The GTI is perfect for those who want one car to do everything they need. It’s got the sophistication of an upper tier Volkswagen, and you don’t really lose much in terms of comfort. It’s still as practical as C-segment hatchbacks come, and its performance-to-price ratio is rather exceptional. RM225K for one car that does everything exceptionally well. You could do much worse. This one’s a top scorer.

We also spent time in the standard Golf TSI Sportline and R-Line models. The Sportline, to me, was good enough. You still have to deal with a standard key fob, halogen headlights, fabric seats and dials in the instrument cluster. To me, these are great, as they tend to last longer are are cheaper to maintain long-term. But to most, spending RM146,000 on something so barebones is a little ludicrous. You will have to decide on your own, as the Golf TSI is still one of the best performing cars in its segment.

The R-Line is still pricey at RM157,000. But considering the amount of kit you’re getting AND the fact that it’s made 100% in Germany (as are all the Golfs here), we’d say it makes just a little more sense.

The Golf R’s a car we spent literally 5 minutes in. On a little car park course, in the heavy rain, it gleefully outperformed all its little brothers. If you’re looking for that performance gold standard, the Golf R is a good candidate. At RM279K, it’s actually a tad cheaper than the Civic Type R. And while it does have a more mature design and may feel a little more premium, honestly, it doesn’t feel quite as special. The Type R is a front-wheel drive Japanese hatch that only comes with a manual gearbox – you need to EARN your place behind the wheel. The Golf R might beat it in every which way, but any old millionaire can get behind the wheel of one of these. Overall, an outstanding machine, but the Golf GTI feels like the more sensible car.

The question many potential buyers will be asking is: “are these reliable cars?” To summarise the entire situation, VPCM says that they’ve solved the problems and have data to prove things have DRASTICALLY improved. Yet, the question still lingers, doesn’t it? Malaysians are still buying these cars in DROVES ( the 3-door Golf Rs were all swept up in 20 minutes), but there’s still some hesitance. We’re in no position to comment, but let’s just say Volkswagen’s used market prices have yet to recover. They might, once that regional parts facility opens in Johor, but for now, a lot of owners have not much more than a 5-year ownership plan to bank on.

About the Author

Written work on @subhashtag on instagram. Autophiles Malaysia on Youtube.

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