It’s been 41 years since Volkswagen’s iconic hatchback debuted in the United States, and the seventh-generation Golf is the best Golf yet. Winning more than two-dozen awards following its 2015 debut, the 2016 Golf continues to represent a great value with loads of interior and cargo space, fuel-efficient engine choices and world-class German engineering.
New for 2016
After a ground-up redesign for 2015, the Golf continues to add to its value package for model year 2016. The addition of a new infotainment system for 2016 provides a comprehensive suite of connectivity features. Volkswagen Group of America is one of the first in the industry to support all three available connected car systems: Apple CarPlay®, Android Auto™ and MirrorLink®. The new MIB II system offers USB and VW-Car Net® App-Connect, allowing owners with these systems to access select apps from their smartphones directly through the vehicle’s head unit. VW Car-Net’s connected vehicle services umbrella also includes connected car services, advanced telematics, and enhanced navigation available by subscription.
A rearview camera now comes standard on S models and SE models add Keyless access with push-button start. The Driver Assistance Package (available on SE and SEL models) has been updated to include a number of new technologies, including Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking (Front Assist), Lane Departure Warning (Lane Assist), Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert, and Parking Steering Assistant (Park Assist).
The seventh-generation Golf is wrapped in sheetmetal that is totally modern yet equally unmistakable as a Volkswagen Golf. The shape and design elements remain as defined as ever, with a distinctive C-pillar and roofline framing classic Golf side windows, but the striking new front end and steeply sloped hood leave no doubt this model is different from previous generations.
The look is further accentuated by the sharper headlight clusters and horizontal graphic that runs through them, as well as by the narrower grille, which leads to a strong character line that travels along the side and all the way back to the taillight clusters, only breaking for the wheelarches. Just above, another body line can be traced from the rear side window all the way back up to the headlights and front horizontal graphic. These subtle body lines help create a poised yet elegant appearance.
Dimensionally, the Golf grew for 2015 in all directions but up. Overall length increased by 2.1 inches, while width gained 0.5 inches. Overall height decreased, however, by 1.1 inches. Thanks to the MQB architecture, which dictates a fixed relationship between the front-wheel centerline and the pedalbox, the front wheels sit 1.7 inches further forward, giving a premium “cab backward” aesthetic. Along with the design graphics and shape, these updated proportions help the Golf achieve a lower visual center of gravity and a more dynamic stance. Moreover, the new design helped to improve the vehicle’s aerodynamics with a reduction in the coefficient of drag from 0.32 to 0.29.
The entry Golf TSI® 2-Door and S models are equipped with 15-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, wrapped in 195/65 all-season tires, and are upgraded to 17-inch wheels in the SE trim and to 18 inches for the SEL. A sunroof is standard equipment on all trim levels except the entry TSI 2-Door, Golf S.
In addition to the foglights that are fitted on the SE and SEL models, a stand-alone Lighting Package is also available for $995 on SE and SEL models: it consists of Bi-Xenon headlights and LED Daytime Running Lights, as well as the Volkswagen Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS). This system swivels the main headlight beams by up to 15 degrees as the steering wheel is turned to help illuminate bends in the road more effectively at speeds of more than 6 mph. Ambient interior lighting with LED reading lights is standard on the SEL trim and included in the Lighting Package on SE trims. Automatic rain-sensing windshield wipers are available on SE models and above, along with automatic headlights.
The large, mature cabin has an emphasis on comfort and a substantial features list. Despite the Golf’s lower overall height, interior space increased all around in 2015, with 93.5 cubic feet of interior room, 16.5 cubic feet of cargo space up to the parcel shelf and 22.8 cu ft to the roof. That’s more luggage room than even the largest mid-size sedan. The versatility of the load space is enhanced by a trunk floor that can be moved up or down by 3.9 inches, while the 60:40 split backrest can be folded to give an almost flat cargo area that easily accommodates a full-size bicycle. With the rear seats folded, the Golf has 52.7 cu ft of cargo capacity.
In addition to the spacious interior, many of the driver controls are positioned to help optimize ergonomics and usability. The seat position, height of the shifter and the spacing between the pedals are fine-tuned for driver comfort. This driver-centric design focus is also evident from the center stack, which is angled towards the driver—a trait frequently seen in premium luxury or performance vehicles. White backlighting for the controls further highlights this upscale ambience, as well as the use of premium materials throughout, such as soft-touch plastics and trim pieces available in chrome, aluminum, and piano-black finishes.
An equal amount of attention has been paid to maximizing comfort and convenience. The two-door Golf TSI 2-Door has standard power windows, door locks, and exterior mirrors, along with air conditioning, cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity, and a MIB II Composition Color touchscreen radio with USB and a 5-inch display. The Golf TSI S ups the luxury quotient with a larger 6.5-inch Composition Media radio with VW Car-Net App-Connect, rearview camera, VW Car-Net connected vehicle services, leather-wrapped handbrake, shifter knob and multifunction steering wheel, and partial power front seats on the four-door models.
A panoramic tilt and slide sunroof becomes available at the Golf S with Sunroof trim level. All SE trim models are equipped with heatable front seats, Keyless access with push-button start, and the highly acclaimed Fender® Premium Audio System. The top-of-the-line SEL variants come loaded with the aforementioned navigation system, Climatronic® automatic dual-zone climate control, ambient lighting with LED interior reading lights, piano-black interior trim, and front comfort sport seats that include a 12-way power driver’s seat.
One of the most significant advances in the 2016 Golf comes in the form of its new MIB II touchscreen infotainment system. Base 2-Door models will feature a Composition Color touchscreen radio with a 5.0-inch resistive 400×240 color display and a host of standard features including AUX-in, SD card slots, and a USB multimedia interface with Apple iPhone® and iPod® compatibility, reverse camera display, and Bluetooth® technology.
The all-new infotainment system not only creates the foundation for the next generation of Volkswagen’s Car-Net connected vehicle services platform, but also offers one of the most comprehensive suites of connected vehicle services and features available in the automotive industry today. Features available through the new Car-Net are divided into three key areas, “App-Connect,” “Security & Service,” and “Guide & Inform.”
App-Connect. The Composition Media unit is available on S, S with Sunroof and SE models. Incorporating the features from the Composition Color unit, the Composition Media unit adds an 800×480 capacitive color touch display with proximity sensor, with a 6.5-inch screen. Other standard features include App-Connect smartphone integration, Bluetooth with the ability to send and receive SMS text messages with compatible phones, sync two phones simultaneously, two SD card slots, and a JPEG viewer, SiriusXM® Satellite Radio, HD Radio and support for lossless audio file format (Free Lossless Audio Codec FLAC).
The SEL models feature the Discover Media unit, which captures the features available in the previous two units and adds 2.5D Navigation, one-shot voice destination entry, predicts possible destinations based on often used routes, and Destination Entry with Quick Search and Auto-complete, and Car-Net Guide & Inform.
Security & Service. Consumers have the ability to access the Car-Net Security & Service suite through the innovative online Customer Web Portal as well as an advanced app for smartphones, providing access to all the features available from virtually anywhere your mobile device is connected to wireless internet.
Available security related features include Automatic Crash Notification, which automatically notifies an operator who can quickly contact first responders in the event of an collision; Manual Emergency Call, a feature that allows for quick access to customer specialists at the touch of a button; Roadside Assistance, for added peace-of-mind in the event of trouble on the road; and Stolen Vehicle Location Assistance, which uses Car-Net Security & Service to assist law enforcement with locating your vehicle in the event that it is stolen.
In addition, VW Car-Net Security & Service offers other new features for 2016 model year including new layers of convenience such as remote vehicle access, remote door lock and unlock, remote honk and flash (of lights), last parked location information, and remote status check (doors and windows). Consumers will also be able to send a location from their connected smart device to the factory-installed compatible navigation system on select models. For consumers that prefer a more personal touch, agent destination assist is also available.
The Car-Net Security & Service also offers Family Guardian, a suite of features that help families. Features including speed alert, which notifies the owner of the vehicle when the pre-determined maximum speed limit is exceeded; and boundary alert, which lets you know when the vehicle has traveled outside of a pre-set virtual boundary.
Diagnostics and maintenance information is also available through Car-Net. A Vehicle Health Report allows Volkswagen customers to quickly check to see if their vehicle is in proper running order. When it’s time for scheduled service, Car-Net Security & Service not only notifies the customer, but provides a simple way to schedule a dealer visit. It can even identify the closest dealer in case you need a recommendation.
Available later this year, the VW Car-Net app for Apple Watch will allow VW customers to control a host of features and functions available through the iPhone app and Customer Web Portal, directly from their wrist. Apple Watch wearers can keep an eye on their vehicle from afar, remotely locking and unlocking doors and viewing the status of doors, windows and sunroof (open or closed). Consumers will also be able to find a parked vehicle quickly, with a map of the current vehicle location, walking or driving directions to the vehicle, and the ability to honk the horn and flash the lights remotely. Drivers will be able to check their fuel level, right from the Apple Watch. As with the Car-Net app for iPhone, Apple Watch wearers will also be able to receive alerts directly to their Apple Watch from the app.
Guide & Inform. Car-Net Guide & Inform offers an enhanced navigation and infotainment experience for VW consumers. Volkswagen has incorporated technologies that enhance existing navigation offerings while adding an additional level of information that empowers consumers.
Satellite navigation is refined with Car-Net Guide & Inform, incorporating several layers of information right onto the screen. MIB II-equipped Volkswagen models with in-vehicle navigation systems will now feature real-time fuel prices, sports scores, movie information and weather data as part of the three month SiriusXM® Travel Link trial. VW customers will also enjoy real-time traffic information and a complimentary four-year SiriusXM Traffic trial.
Customers purchasing new Volkswagen models equipped with VW Car-Net connected vehicle services (not including App-Connect) will receive a no-charge trial for six months after purchase. To extend the benefits of this connectivity system, customers can choose from a number of VW Car-Net payment options: 1 year, for $199; 2 years for $378; 3 years for $540; or, month-to-month, for $17.99. App-Connect can be used free-of-charge and is not included as part of the subscription-based services.
The Golf features a compact turbocharged and direct-injection 1.8-liter four-cylinder EA888 TSI gasoline. The engine is a member of the latest EA888 engine family and has a state-of-the-art design that uses intelligent downsizing to deliver excellent power and torque as well as efficiency. The Golf’s turbocharged 1.8-liter EA888 engine produces 170 horsepower at 4,500 rpm, and torque peaks at 199 pound-feet with the broad swathe of torque starting at 1,600 rpm and lasting until 4,400 rpm. The engine, when combined with the manual transmission, gets an EPA estimated 25 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway.
The 1.8-liter TSI engine is mated to either a traditional five-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic transmission that is optional on Golf TSI 2-door models and S trims, and is standard on SE and SEL models.
The A7 Golf is the first U.S.-market vehicle built on Volkswagen’s MQB modular platform. The unitary construction chassis has two solid-mounted subframes with bolt-on front fenders, and utilizes new technologies such as the laser clamp welder, which produces “wobble seam” welds in a wave pattern to maximize strength in a limited space, offering up to four times the strength of a traditional spot weld.
The Golf models’ stamped steel body and chassis boasts 28-percent of its parts in high-strength, hot-formed steel. This technology allows much of the chassis and body to be constructed from thinner and lighter parts without any loss in strength. Thanks to the use of selective thickness for parts, a single component can be tailor-rolled to have as many as 11 zones of varying thicknesses.
The Golf features a strut-type front suspension. At the back, the TSI models have a multilink arrangement with coil springs, telescopic dampers, and an anti-roll bar. The rack-and-pinion steering features electric power assist and features a 13.6 to one ratio that allows for 2.76 turns from lock to lock.
All 2016 Golf models are equipped with the XDS® Cross Differential System, which acts somewhat like an electronic substitute for a traditional mechanical limited-slip differential, working by actively monitoring data from each wheel sensor. If the suspension becomes unloaded, the system automatically applies braking to the driven inside wheel as needed to help reduce understeer (the tendency for the front wheels to run wide). This not only helps the Golf’s stability, but also helps improve handling and cornering performance.
To help keep occupants safe, the Golf provides a combination of both passive and active safety systems. The Golf has been engineered to meet or exceed all current crash regulations and features six airbags as standard, along with a number of electronic and mechanical safety systems.
The seventh-generation Golf’s braking system involves substantial 11.3-inch vented front discs and 10.7-inch solid rear discs with standard three-channel ABS with electronic brake pressure distribution. All Golf models are equipped with standard Electronic Stability Control (ESC).
A standard feature on the 2016 Golf models is Volkswagen’s Automatic Post-Collision Braking System. This builds on the premise that a collision is rarely a single, instantaneous action, but rather a series of events that follow the initial impact—the most significant of which can cause additional collisions. The Automatic Post-Collision Braking System addresses this by applying the brakes when a primary collision is detected by the airbag sensors, thus helping reduce residual kinetic energy and, in turn, the chance of additional damage.
The Golf also includes Volkswagen’s Intelligent Crash Response System that shuts off the fuel pump, unlocks the doors, and switches on the hazard lights if the car is involved in certain types of collisions.
Driver Assistance Systems
The SE and SEL models are available with the Driver Assistance Package that adds Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Forward Collision Warning with Autonomous Emergency Braking (Front Assist), Lane Departure Warning (Lane Assist), Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert, front and rear Park Distance Control (Park Pilot), and Parking Steering Assistant (Park Assist).
Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) uses forward facing radar to maintain a set speed while helping maintain a set distance to the vehicle in front. The driver sets the speed and the desired spacing via buttons on the multifunction steering wheel and can use the accelerator, brake pedal, or steering wheel to cancel or override the ACC function. All system messages appear in the central multifunction display.
When the roadway ahead of the vehicle is empty, the system can maintain the set speed. Golf models fitted with automatic transmissions and ACC can match a vehicle in front and come to a stop, as well as resume ACC control after the driver presses the accelerator pedal or the “resume” button on the steering wheel. On manual transmission Golf models, the ACC ceases to operate below 19 mph.
Within physical system limits, Forward Collision Warning helps warn the driver of critical front-end collision situations, both acoustically and visually by a warning symbol in the instrument cluster, and, if necessary, Autonomous Emergency Braking is activated to slow the vehicle if the driver fails to brake. If the brake pedal is applied but the driver brakes too lightly, the brake pressure is increased by the system (Braking Support).
If there is an indication that the vehicle is unintentionally straying from its lane, the Lane Departure Warning system actively countersteers to help keep the vehicle in the lane above 40 mph. The system’s camera recognizes visible lane markings (one side suffices) and, using a special algorithm, calculates the risk of the car leaving the lane. If the driver takes their hands off the wheel for a defined period of time, or the vehicle crosses a lane marking without use of a turn signal, the system provides an audible warning and a visual signal in the instrument cluster, asking the driver to take over.
The system works in the dark and/or in fog, but will not engage if it cannot properly detect lane markings. If the turn signal has been set before crossing a lane marking, the Lane Departure Warning system will not engage or give a warning. The driver can “override” the system at any time by applying minimal force, and is not relieved of responsibility to make conscious driving decisions.
Blind Spot Monitor uses two radar sensors at the rear of the vehicle to scan the approaching traffic and help warn drivers of potential danger in adjacent lanes. If the driver uses the turn signal to indicate a lane change while a vehicle is detected in a blind spot, the system utilizes a flashing LED symbol in the outer area of the side mirrors.
The system is designed to help alert drivers in specific situations; stationary objects or oncoming vehicles do not trigger warnings, nor will vehicles more than one lane across.
The Rear Traffic Alert system not only helps alert the driver to stationary and moving vehicles directly behind, but also helps detect vehicles approaching from the side that may be difficult for the driver to see while reversing. It offers a sizable range of about 65 to 80 feet, depending on model, and will present a visual and an acoustic warning, before applying the brakes if a potential impending collision is detected. The system is activated either by selecting reverse gear or by the optional Park Distance Control when starting off.
Park Distance Control (Park Pilot) uses ultrasonic sensors located in the front and rear bumpers to monitor a range of up to five feet in front or behind the vehicle. The system is activated when reverse gear is engaged or below a speed of 9 mph and helps provide guidance when parking or in tight situations. The system has audible and visual warnings when the car starts to approach parked cars or static objects from the front or rear.
The Parking Steering Assistant (Park Assist) automatically steers the car into parallel and perpendicular parking spaces in reverse. After pressing the Park Assist button—once for parallel and twice for perpendicular—the driver only needs to activate the accelerator pedal and brake once a gear is selected, as Park Assist automatically helps steer the vehicle into the parking space.
The driver can override or deactivate the steering assistance at any time by turning the steering wheel, disengaging reverse gear or pressing the button. Below 25 mph, the system scans both the left-hand and right-hand sides of the road, for example in a one-way street, for any parking spaces as it drives past. By activating the turn signal, the driver stipulates which side of the road they wish to park on.
The 2016 Golf TSI models are offered with Volkswagen’s standard five-year/60,000-mile powertrain limited warranty and three-year/36,000-mile new vehicle limited warranty.
With a starting price of $18,495 (plus $820 destination and delivery), the TSI 2-Door brings a high level of standard equipment to the compact hatchback class. This Golf model features a standard turbocharged and direct-inject engine; 15-inch aluminum-alloy wheels; Bluetooth connectivity; MIB II Composition Color touchscreen infotainment system with USB and a 5-inch display; Daytime Running Lights; cruise control; cloth seats with front manual lumbar adjustment; power windows; power door locks; and air conditioning. Equipped with the six-speed automatic transmission, the TSI 2-Door is priced at $19,595.
The TSI S begins at $19,575 for the two-door model with five-speed manual transmission. An automatic transmission is available for an additional $1,100. The four-door manual starts at $20,175. This model adds a rearview camera; a MIB II Composition Media touchscreen infotainment system, VW Car-Net App-Connect and a 6.5-inch display; VW Car-Net connected vehicle services; SiriusXM Satellite Radio; leather-wrapped handbrake, shifter knob, and multifunction steering wheel. Four-door models add partial power seats for front passengers.
TSI S w/ Sunroof
The TSI S w/ Sunroof, which is only available as a four-door model, starts at $22,625 with the automatic transmission. It adds a power tilt and slide panoramic sunroof to the S model’s extensive list of standard equipment.
Pricing for the midrange TSI SE begins at $25,225 with automatic transmission The SE includes all the features of the TSI S and adds: 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels; V-Tex leatherette seating surfaces; a cold weather package consisting of heatable front seats and heated front washer nozzles; rain-sensing automatic windshield wipers; automatic headlights; front foglights; Keyless access with push-button start; and the exclusive Fender Premium Audio System. The $1,495 Driver Assistance Package adds Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Forward Collision Warning with Autonomous Emergency Braking (Front Assist), Lane Departure Warning (Lane Assist), Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert, Park Distance Control (Park Pilot), and Parking Steering Assistant (Park Assist). A Lighting Package becomes available at this trim level: for $995 it adds Bi-Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, ambient lighting with LED interior reading lights, and the Adaptive Front-lighting System.
Building on the specifications and layout of the TSI SE, the TSI SEL starts at $27,425. The top Golf trim includes 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, and adds a MIB II Discover Media touchscreen navigation system; Climatronic automatic air conditioning; sport comfort seats with a 12-way power driver’s seat; and ambient lighting with LED interior reading lights.