South African Launch: Facelifted VW Golf 7.5 GTI
Whenever a new Golf is launched, there is excitement beyond belief. First and foremost, it’s been widely regarded as the benchmark in its class and for good reason. Its brilliant! Whether you are starting a new job, transporting kids to and from school, or want a car so that you can have space for your grandkids, it’s the best all-rounder and has remained that way for the last couple of decades. The latest version, or “facelift” in normal terms may be a slight improvement on the current Golf 7, but those small changes make for strides in comfort, luxury and of cause, sportiness.
We flew out to Port Elizabeth to sample the latest version and more specifically, the GTI and my oh my. It’s like your hot friend that was already a looker but decided to go and get a trainer for a full year, and has come back looking like a model for GQ magazine.
The changes to the new VW Golf 7.5 GTI are small, but they certainly make you notice it. The “GTI Line” in red now gets broken up and hugs the new LED headlights. Traces of the honeycomb grille finish off the bottom of the LEDs and give the eyes a more aggressive look. The front and rear bumper have also been tweaked for a sportier appeal with the cherry on top being the new lights with progressive indicators. Small changes as mentioned, but overall, a more svelte athlete.
In the interior, you are immediately greeted by the new LCD electronic display in the instrument binacle which can be adjusted to suit. The examples that we sampled featured the Discover Pro Navigation, in which the maps and directions sit right in between the rev counter and tachometer for easy viewing. The Discover Pro Navigation also comes with a 9.2-inch screen for vehicle operation with full touch and gesture control. With my basketball player hands, I couldn’t master the system but my driving partner, being a lady with lady like hands, operated the system with ease and I’m sure that with enough practice, I’d soon get the hang of it. The system is iPhone ready with Apple CarPlay and is as easy as 1,2,3 to use. Android Auto has been enabled but South Africans will have to wait until their phones are ready, as the software on android devices has not been enabled yet.
We drove the cars from the airport and stopped over in Jansenville for some lunch. This was a relatively short drive, thanks to the uprated 169 kW instead of the current 162 kW from the familiar 2.0-litre TFSI motor. Torque has stayed the same at 350 N.m but the vehicle feels more peppy and angrier than what the figures suggest. The GTI 7.5, as it’s locally known, has no problem with bumpier roads, even at more illegal speeds and turns in like a GTI should. Seats are just the right mix of sporty and let’s-drive-to-Cape-Town-this-weekend comfortable. Even though I have a back that could have come from a 95-year-old war veteran, not once did I reach for the Myprodol.
After reaching the venue and reflecting on the very short drive of 247 kilometers, we settled in and I tried to find fault with the VW Golf 7.5 GTI as there must be at least one black mark and yes, I did find it. It no longer comes with a manual gearbox! The urban warriors having to deal with Sandton traffic have got to VW and convinced them that the manual was redundant and only DSG boxes are on the cards for sunny South Africa. Train smash for a stubborn mule like myself but in the long run, it’s the better decision.
With the whole range being refreshed, it called for some engine changes as well. The 1.2 TSI has been dropped in favour of the new 1.0 TSI in both Trendline and Comfortline packages. This motor should be very nimble at 81 kW and 200 N.m of torque. Next is the 1.4 TSI with the same torque figure but with a bit more juice at 92 kW. This has the option of the DSG gearbox and I’m sure from a comfort, power and pricing perspective, this will be the pick of the bunch. Next would be the GTI and added from July will be the GTD – the 130 kW & 350 N.m diesel 2.0 TDI, as well as the R version. We weren’t given the exact figures for the R but expect more from the flagship Vrrpha!
Once again, the standard has been set and to be honest, many cars will run the Golf close and one or two will be faster, but none can come close to what the Golf and specifically the VW Golf 7.5 GTI can offer as an everyday package. Expect it to stand head and shoulders above the competition.