Not everyone at VW is running around fixing diesel engines. Volkswagen has a 10-car new-vehicle blitz coming, led by the 2017 Golf, Volkswagen’s go-to vehicle. The engines are stronger, display screens get bigger, and there are more driver assists to help in traffic and on the Autobahn.
The Golf will come in gasoline, diesel (some parts of the world), plug-in hybrid, and pure-electric versions. There’s a lot riding on the Golf, the model with more than 33 million units sold. Thus, for what is a midlife refresh while awaiting the eighth-generation Golf in 2019, VW has made lots of changes.
Focus on driver assistance and safety
Some want cheap transportation. Others want as much safety as Volkswagen can cram in. To that end, Volkswagen will offer, at least on mid- and upper-level trim lines:
- City Emergency Braking (VW’s term) with Pedestrian Monitoring, a term that sounds a little big-brotherish, but we know what they mean.
- Traffic Jam Assist, following the vehicle ahead (accelerate, brake, stay in lane) up to 60 kph (37 mph).
- Emergency Assist, a warning in a potentially hazardous situation that VW escalates from driver alerts to an emergency stop, combined with a “gentle steering maneuver” and activating the four-way flashers.
- LED headlamps, either standard or available. The replace bi-xenon headlamps that used more power.
- LED tail lamps are standard, all trim lines. Beyond that, VW says, unlike some competitors, “none of the functions will use conventional light bulbs” in the tail assembly.
- Adaptive cruise control. What once cost $ 2,500-plus and was the domain of Audi A8s is now on economy cars.
- Park Assist, or help with parallel and perpendicular parking. The newest version (3.0) pulls out as well as in, and works faster.
- Trailer Assist. In Europe especially, small cars tow comparatively big trailers.
- Blind spot detection and lane keeping assist.
Some of these functions require an automated transmission, in this VW’s seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, or DCT, which adds one gear over the old DCT.
9.2-inch infotainment display available
Small cars used to have small LCDs in the center stack. For many automakers, a 7-inch LCD is a “big” display. VW has abandoned all monochrome systems and the smallest offering is a 6.5-inch, 800 x 600 LCD. Stepping up (which you must do to get navigation) are the Composition Media and Discover Media infotainment packages with 8.0-inch displays. The top-line Discover Pro (almost sounds like a credit card offering) is 9.2 inches and 1280 x 640 pixels. It has a proximity sensor and supports gesture control.
The 2017 Golf will support Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink. It wasn’t immediately clear if VW, like Honda on the Civic, will offer trim lines with nicely sized (say 8 inches) LCDs but not force you to take VW’s navigation. That is the way of the future.
Upper-range Golfs will also offer a 12-inch LCD instrument panel.
More horsepower, more mpg
The base 2017 Golf gets a 1.5-liter TSI (turbocharged straight injection) engine with 148 hp and active cylinder management (shutting off the middle two cylinders). The high-efficiency BlueMotion Golf gets 128 hp; the engine actually shuts down under trailing throttle conditions, or when the driver lifts off the throttle.
The high-performance Golf GTI gets 226 hp, and 241 hp with the Performance Pack. There will be an even higher-performance Golf Type R to deal with pesky Ford Focus RS and similar competitors.
There will be a plug-in hybrid, the Golf GTE, with a range on battery of 31 mph before the engine kicks in. The all-electric eGolf is good for up to 186 miles, which puts it not far behind the Chevrolet Bolt (up to 250 miles) and the Tesla Model 3.
Even while other parts of Volkswagen struggle to resolve the problems of diesel engine emissions cheating, VW is launching 10 separate products. Of interest to the US especially is the VW Atlas, an SUV just under 200 inches long, or about the same as the Ford Explorer, by far the best-seller among midsize SUVs. VW also is pinning hopes on the T-Roc, a small Golf-class crossover or mini-SUV, on the order of a Honda HR-V.