The Golf Highline has been one of Volkswagen’s most iconic models for more than four decades. The recently-refreshed new Golf is more charismatic with redesigned bumpers, lower chrome strip detail of the radiator grille, and even animated indicator lights. It also extends the Golf range to a whopping 6 variants, priced from S$99,000 (The 1-litre Golf TSI) to over S$201,900 (Golf R 2.0 TSI). Indeed, there is a Golf for everyone.
VW Singapore loaned us the Golf 1.4 TSI Highline for a short review, long enough to go through the routine of chauffeuring the family around. While the drivetrain is similar to the other 1.4 TSI models, the overall experience is certainly refreshing thanks to the brand new infotainment system and a fully digital instrument cluster, the first Golf to offer the Active Info Display. All the driving instruments are displayed on the 12.3-inch 1440 x 540 screen, and information appears sharp and clear. The navigation map is also displayed on this screen which ensures better focus when viewing route information. Other data like radio, audio tracks, phone records can also be shown on the centre display area.
The 9.2-inch glass-encased infotainment system now replaces conventional buttons with touch buttons to give a seamless elegant look. Though impressive, I am somewhat an old-school user and prefers proper buttons and a physical knob for quick volume adjustments instead of tapping numerous times. An interesting new feature is the ability to operate by swiping the hand over the air to scroll, though it’s limited to scrolling left and right pages. There are also more ways to interface from smartphones to the infotainment system, like the App-Connect via USB cable, through which Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink smartphone apps can display on the system. The Volkswagen Media Control app is finally available in Singapore market, where passengers can also connect their smartphones via WiFi hotspot to the infotainment system and control the audio and video sources as well as navigation system.
The 1.4 TSI engine offers similar driving response feel as the other VW models, but because the Golf is smaller, lighter, and fitted with sports suspension, the handling is snappier and cornering is more stable. The ride is slightly stiffer than other models but does not cause too much discomfort. Do not expect the Golf Highline to deliver the sporty torque or the pedal-to-the-metal raw response: it is still a compact family car at heart, with generous legroom at the rear seats, and factory-fitted anti-slip boot tray. To ensure improved road safety, Blind Spot Sensor is made available for the first time on the Golf (Highline and above models), where the side mirror flashes an icon when the radar detects a vehicle around the blind spot areas while traveling above 30 km/h. With Rear Traffic Alert, the radar detects approaching vehicles when reversing the car out of a parking space and emits an audible warning. And my favourite feature? It’s the panoramic sunroof that lets in fresh air during evening drive, and brightens up the car interior on a sunny day.
The new Golf is so in-trend with the full LED lights, digital dashboard, and the new glass-surface infotainment system. It also adds popular features from the other premium models into the Golf Highline, making it the most luxurious Golf hatchback for less sporty drivers.