Volkswagen's Golf Refresh Has Created an Unrecognizable Monster

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
volkswagens golf refresh has created an unrecognizable monster

No, you aren’t losing your mind. This isn’t a completely new form of transportation or an abstract piece of rolling art. What you are seeing is Volkswagen’s venerable hatchback after its mid-cycle update.

This mutilated Golf may be confusing at first, but the more you look at it, the more familiar it begins to appear. The cabin, however, has a surprise in store.

Golf “7.5” specifications for the United States are unconfirmed at the moment, but the rest of the globe is getting updated bumpers and LED headlights that replace the old xenon units. Other exterior changes include absolutely nothing — nada, zip, and zilch. However, if you opt for a GTI or Golf R, you can get even more slightly different front bumpers and some imperceptible detailing around the fog lamps.

Those are the kind of important touches that let people know that they are definitely looking at a car.

Alright, so VW didn’t actually change all that much with the car’s exterior. In fact, it is almost impossible to tell the difference between the 2018 and 2017 models. Golf styling doesn’t change much between generations, so we shouldn’t expect too much from a refresh. At least, not on the exterior, as it looks like they were too busy changing things on the inside.

The cockpit has lost its analog gauges completely. What it has now is an entirely digital display, reminiscent of what you might find in the Audi A4. Another digital monitor joins the center stack in the form of a redesigned infotainment system.

Volkswagen is giving the base Golf a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder with cylinder deactivation and a “variable turbine geometry.” It comes in BlueMotion flavor and regular flavors. The standard motor churns out 148 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. The fuel-sipping BlueMotion — a trim that never seems to make it to North America — offers up twenty fewer ponies for enhanced economy.

Unlike the BlueMotion, the performance upgrades found on the Euro GTI will probably make their way to the states. VW is amping up the standard GTI to 227 hp, while the GTI Performance trim gets 242 hp. Both are a notable upgrade to their current U.S. counterparts, which deliver 210 and 220 hp, respectively.

The Golf is also becoming safer and more convenient. Traffic Jam Assist will be made available on all models making use of a dual-clutch transmission. This feature allows the car to creep along with traffic and stop on its own to keep the driver from having a mental crisis in bumper to bumper traffic. Volkswagen is also introducing automatic collision detection and pedestrian monitoring with brake assist. There is even parking and trailer assist, in case you want help backing a trailer safely.

Using your Golf as a tug might be all the rage in Europe, but I don’t expect a lot of American are making much use of VW’s Trailer Assist technology.

Still, we don’t know if the North American-spec Golf will bother to have trailer stabilization, let alone what else might not be making it across the pond. While you can probably count on a more powerful GTI and a lot of the new driver assists, don’t bet on the BlueMotion. We’ll learn of the remaining details closer to its U.S. market launch next year.

Expect to start seeing the 2018 Golf on European roads, looking identical to the previous year’s model, this February.

[Images: Volkswagen Group]

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2 of 44 comments
  • Rea98d Rea98d on Nov 28, 2016

    Are the headline and first paragraph meant to be sarcastic? Because that thing looks like every other hatchback pod car VW has been selling for the last 20 or 25 years. Nothing unrecognizable about it.

  • on Dec 16, 2016

    Volkswagen can go straight to hell.

  • DenverMike Column shifter in all trims? Thank god someone is listening. The console shifter is just the stupidest thing ever. Frick just make the whole area useful utility. Luxury means something different in trucks. Definitely removable and I’ll make my own work station.
  • Joh65689020 1. Drape/ Masking-tape paint.2. Blue Coral (or any brand) chrome polish on PowerBall with cordless drill-driver.3. Buff lightly with microfiber towel to crystal clear finish.
  • Bullnuke "Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinkin' badges!" - Gold Hat
  • DenverMike They seriously want to kill the auto industry.
  • Inside Looking Out I have a feeling that retracting headlights were designed by VW.