THE VOLKSWAGEN Golf is arguably one of the most iconic of modern cars. This is a automobile that is genuinely democratic – it is almost classless, hovering across various layers of society. It is a car without borders.
Customers include the young and the old, the rich and the not so rich, the male and the female. Since its birth 38 years ago, the Golf has redefined the small family car. And with 29 million cars sold to date – 1.6 million of which have found home in the UK – this is also an incredible success story,
With success of this kind, however, there is a price to pay. The Golf has a very strict set of codes both in terms of design and engineering. We know what it should look like, and most of us have some pretty clear ideas – or ideals – as to how it should handle the road. All of which has put an awful lot of pressure on the team behind the seventh generation car.
The Golf face is one of its key defining features. This is essentially a horizontal grille with round headlamps positioned at either side. ‘We wanted to interpret this feature,’ explains the exterior designer Andreas Mindt. We are settling down for dinner having driven the cars all day on the steep, snaky north Sardinian roads. He quickly takes out his pen and sketches the Golf Mk I grille. Next to this he draws that of the new Golf explaining that it is a modern day interpretation of the iconic face that complies with our current strict pedestrian safety regulations.
He also notes that the car is ‘anti wedge’ meaning the sculpture is a pure box shape with clear straight lines. At 4,255mm, the new Golf is 56mm longer than its predecessor, and 13mm wider. Yet by lowering the volume by 28mm, the new model looks more compact. This is still physically a compact car – a major plus whilst driving on some of the narrower Sardinian lanes as we found earlier that day. Having veered off from the designated route in search of a secret boutique hotel recommended by local friends, we found ourselves in the picture perfect village of Saint Pantaleo where we were directed to continue higher and higher, up the rocky mountain top to our friends’ secret hideaway. In our red hot Golf, the tricky route was a breeze.
The subtle increase in size has resulted in a noticeably roomier cabin and 30-litre increase in boot space to an impressive 380 litres. The interior is bright and roomy, thanks to the uncluttered instrument cluster that is ergonomically designed, and tilted ever so slightly to focus on the driver without dismissing the front passenger. Some cars tend to overdo this, which can make them feel a little macho, but here the team have hit the right balance.
The seats, Mindt tells me, are ‘back friendly’ and following a full two days of driving, I can vouch for this claim. The boot with its low sill, also promises to be ‘back friendly’. The Golf also includes lots of modern gadgets such as the new generation touchscreen infotainment system, DAB digital radio, USB inputs, Bluetooth and more.
What is also very noticeable when driving the new Golf is just how light the structure is, and this is despite the increase in volume. The Golf Mk VII is 100kg lighter and therefore 23 per cent more fuel-efficient.
One journalist described the design as ‘conservative’. I beg to differ. The new Golf maintains that sense of classlessness, of genderlessness, or boarderlessness. It remains a genuine world car. -Referred from Nargess Shahmanesh Banks.