The Volkswagen Golf has been around for ages, is well loved and recently copped a refresh; here’s what you ned to know about the 2017 Volkswagen Golf 7.5.

VOLKSWAGEN’S GOLF IS the automotive equivalent of Roger Federer. Been around for ages, unquestionably very bloody talented and typically trumps all competition. And like the Swiss tennis maestro the Golf is either loved or, at the very least, begrudgingly respected.

While the Fed Express has had a stellar 2017 with wins at the Aussie Open and Wimbledon, the VW Golf has also come out swinging. In July this year, mid-way through the life cycle of the Golf Mk7 generation, we were offered the updated ‘7.5’ version, dubbed “the world’s most technically sophisticated small car.”

Really? Ignore small cars from the prestige segment and Volkswagen has a point, but then most ‘common man’ small cars don’t have sticker prices with a Grand Canyon-esque chasm between their cheapest and priciest grades.

You can pay as little as $23,990 driveaway for a new Golf 110TSI, or some $40k(!) more to be on the road in a Golf R Wolfsburg Edition. Desirable and brilliant the R may be, but over $63,000 ($65k + for a Wagon version) is a lot of coin for a Golf…not least when you could drive away a stonking premium brand BMW M140i for very similar.

You Pays Your Money And You Takes Your Choice

A quick German lesson. Volkswagen translates as “people’s car”, and the Golf 7.5 embodies this with its mammoth range. You have over 20 Golfs to choose from depending on your budget; preference of body style, fuel and driven wheels, plus whether you want one for the weekly shop or the Cannonball Run.

It all kicks off with the manual gearboxed 110TSI for ten bucks under $24,000 to drive away. Unlike entry-level Golfs of the past with their skinny spec and plastic-covered steel wheels, VW has met the market and given even its most frugal Golf shoppers some solid inclusions. More on those later.

Second on the ladder is a 110TSI Trendline for $25,490 on the road, followed by a 7-speed DSG auto 110TSI Comfortline at $29,990 driveaway, then 110TSI Highline for $35,990 driveaway. The latter also can be had with a diesel engine (110TDI) for $38,490 driveaway.

For those still paying attention, if you want your cheaper Golfs with a DSG auto gearbox you need to add $2500 to the bill, while if you need the big bum of a wagon these kick off with the Trendline grade and DSG auto (no manual available) for $28,990 driveaway.

Reckon on a $1500 wagon premium over the hatchback across all grades: money well spent for those keen on upping boot space from 380-litres to 605-litres, or from 1270-litres to 1620-litres with the rear seats folded.

If you promised yourself you’d never buy an SUV but can’t resist on-demand all-wheel drive, a suspension lift and plastic wheel arches then the Golf Alltrack Wagon is for you. Three can be had, all with DSG gearboxes, starting with a 132TSI for $35,990, a 132TSI Premium for $39,990 and oil-burning 135TDI Premium for $42,490, all to driveaway.

Okay, now the fun stuff. No current driveaway deals on the hot Golfs, so you’ll need to add charges to these. The 7.5 Golf GTI is $41,490 with six-speed manual ($2500 more with a six-speed DSG), while nostalgia lovers can grab a performance-enhanced three-door GTI Performance Edition 1 for $47,990 (seven-speed DSG only).

Want all-paw? The Golf R with six-speed manual is $52,990 before charges, while the seven-speed DSG-gearboxed Golf R Wolfsburg Edition is $57,990 before charges, rising to $59,990 for the wagon version. But stop the press! There’s more! Coming in December are Australia-only Golf R Grid Editions in hatch ($47,490) and DSG wagon grades ($51,990), featuring ‘Race’ sports cloth and Alcantara combination upholstery.

Big choice, big spread of prices.

Sharpening Up That Familiar Body

The Mk7 Golf design has been with us since 2013, and the 7.5 updates are hardly ground-breaking. No point messing with a good thing, you may argue.

Up front we have a freshened bumper with new halogen lights or LED dual headlights for Highlines. The back end also has a sharper bumper and LED tail lights as standard.

The pick of the quotes from VW’s blurb about the design being “advanced to a new evolutionary level” has to be when explaining the front end, where: “the alliance of the radiator grille and headlights takes the style of the original to a new level of perfection.” Modest, much?

2017 Volkswagen Golf 7.5.

Across the range there are new alloy wheel designs, plus a louvre-type radiator grille for all but the Alltrack, which features a more lifestyley honeycomb design.

An aesthetic win comes with the radar sensor for the City Emergency Braking system now no longer visible in the bumper’s air intake. Rather smartly and cleanly, it is now hidden behind the nose’s VW badge.

Let’s talk colour choices though, Volkswagen. Any as long as it’s black? Not quite, but almost. For the normal hatches and wagons you get white, silver, grey, black and a (very) dark blue. Yawn. The one saving grace is a flamboyant Turmeric yellow (gold, basically) as used in VW’s advertising. It dazzles under city lights and in the sunshine, but looks a muddy mistake under gloomy skies.

At least you can get a red one when buying an Alltrack or GTI, plus the signature Lapiz blue metallic for the Golf R. Three-door GTIs can be either White-Silver or Blue. Perhaps VW thought after having to choose from 25 different Golfs the last thing you needed was to pick from 25 different colours too.

Getting Fancy Inside, But Only If You Pay For It

VW offers some Golfs with a fully digital Active Info Display, much like you’d find in prestige sister brand Audi models. It means your instrument cluster behind the steering wheel is replaced by a fully digitalised version awash with interactive functions.

2017 Volkswagen Golf 7.5.

Hardware is a 1440 x 540 pixel 12.3-inch colour screen where you can view your speedometer and rev counter either side of a big navigation map in the middle, or shuffle your digital view around to whatever suits your whim. You can also view the likes of telephone contact images or CD covers. It’s all rather fancy.

It’s a $2300 cost option even if you’re spending around $40k on a Golf Highline or Alltrack Premium though, and isn’t available to you budget shoppers going for a 110TSI or Trendline. It’s included on the Golf R, but optional on the GTI.

Worth the spend though? Truly, yes. It’s part of an Infotainment Package that also includes enhanced audio and a 9.2-inch monitor with gesture control and voice control. That gesture control is a world first for a compact car. Simply swipe your hand in front of the screen and it scrolls through menus, changes radio stations and scrolls backwards of forwards through a playlist. The tech is still in relative infancy, and much like other brands offering gesture control (think BMW), when it works it’s a superb novelty, but is certainly not 100% reliable.

Even if you go for the entry level Golf, the layout, inclusions and general quality feel of the cabin will impress. Flat-bottomed leather steering wheel, soft touch plastics, carpet for the door storage and an 8-inch touchscreen display are excellent inclusions from the base level.

No Entry-Level Golf

Some manufacturers don’t seem to like the term “entry-level”. It suggests there’s a bare-boned model offered solely to keep the advertised price low and get customers through showroom doors.

Volkswagen proclaims there is no entry-level Golf. Look, there is, it’s the 110TSI, but we’ll play along anyway. The entry level…sorry…cheapest Golf you can buy comes with a 110kW/250Nm engine (up from 92kW/200Nm over the base Golf of before), autonomous emergency braking, cruise control, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, rear camera and 16-inch rims. Considering you can drive away in one of these highly regarded Golfs for under $24k, that’s generous enough. Especially when compared to the outgoing model. Still no floor mats thrown in though. Huge pet hate of mine.

Power To The People

Most models have their profile raised if there’s a hero as the flagship, and the Golf has more than one. Volkswagen calls these Golfs its Performance Range, encompassing the GTI, GTI Performance Edition and R hatch and wagon. You can be a snob and suggest they’re still just dull old family Golfs with some go-faster tweaks, but you’d be a fool. All of the above are joyous steers, damn fast and thoroughly rewarding.

The evolved icon that is the GTI still comes with traditional ‘Clark’ tartan upholstery and red grille trim, but the performance is totally modern. A 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo is good for 169kW and 350Nm (the same state of tune as the previous GTI Performance variant), shunting the hatch along to 100kmh in 6.4-seconds no matter if you choose a six-speed manual or DSG.

You can only get a seven-speed DSG in the three-door Golf GTI Performance Edition 1 (only 150 will be offered in Australia by the way), and its 2.0-litre is tuned to 180kW and 370Nm to hit 100kmh in 6.2-seconds. You performance fans will also appreciate the front diff lock, larger disc brakes and 19-inch alloys too.

The 7.5 version of the all-wheel-drive Golf R manages to release 213kW and 380Nm from its 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder. Purists will buy theirs with the 6-speed manual gearbox, but go the 7-speed DSG and it’ll crack 100kmh in 4.8-seconds, rather than 5.2 with the three pedals. The R Wagon (due in January) is DSG only, as are the hatch and wagon Wolfsburg editions, which are already in showrooms.

Rather packed showrooms, one would imagine. There are a fair few different Golfs to cram in there.


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Practical Motoring

The team of journalists at Practical Motoring bring decades of automotive and machinery industry experience. From car and motorbike journalists to mechanical expertise, we like to use tools of the trade both behind the computer and in the workshop.


  1. Moronic that you can’t get the 132kW TSi engine in a regular Golf as an intermediate between the 110kW and the Gti. Audi uses it. Don’t want or need a high riding wagon.

  2. At the entry level, it is an excellent manual transmission, but going up the model range no choice but a DSG transmission.

    Would I buy a vehicle with a DSG transmission? frankly , no thank you, I would opt for a standard automatic, although I would prefer a manual transmission, but I wouldn’t buy any VW product with a DSG transmission, or any other manufacturers DSG offerings, especially Ford.

    1. Audi allows a manual on the S3 at least. DSG have improved greatly since they came out. Sure an 8spd auto would be nicer, but I would get a DSG now over the manual. Sydney’s traffic is too insane to enjoy a manual anymore and I always drive my auto in manual mode anyway, as I would a DSG.

      1. The VW DSG is bloody awful in stop start heavy traffic, a conventional auto beats it hands down. Secondly they are extremely expensive if something goes wrong with them.

        The problem is VW Australia have made the decision for you, no choice, buy other than the base model and there is no option other than the DSG transmission. As I mentioned, in the UK, and Europe one has the choice. In Aussie the people who brought the world Dieselgate have made the choice for you.

          1. And how much do you think an 8-10spd auto would cost to replace. Even my old 6 speed ZF box in my Falcon costs about $5K for a full rebuild.

          2. Unless one is running a very high mileage car, unhappily a VW DSG is likely to cause more expensive trouble than a conventional automatic.

          3. I reviewed a dozen articles talking about current DSG gearbox reliability and they all say they have improved greatly since about 2010 since they got a new mechatronic unit. As long as you change fluids regularly 40-50K km they are now reliable. The only question we can’t answer is longevity. Until we have 20 year old VW with DSG’s. To me the biggest issue with the DSG has been software programming. There are aftermarket tuners that can greatly improve the shift program.

          4. There was a need for improvement in VW DSGs, they are expensive, don’t perform as well as a standard automatic box, and are experienced frequent reliability problems.
            Notwithstanding the additional cost factors, with less than stellar reliability and performance, VW Australia made the decision not to give buyers of VW cars the choice of manual or conventional automatic transmissions across their product range, unlike in other markets such as the UK and Europe, it would not have cost the company any significant amount to do so, but it has cost VW sales. I seriously looked at Passat, but not with DSG, even costed buying a manual Passat Wagon for export from the UK and privately importing it, but it worked out as too expensive an exercise.

            Since that time, VW trashed it’s International Image with Dieselgate, and has tried weaseling on fairly compensating Australia owners, by depriving those who gain compensation their rights under Australian consumer law. They are also facing collusion and price fixing charges along with other major German auto companies in America.

            I used to have a high opinion of VAG, but it was VW that trashed their own reputaion and they must suffer the marketplace consequences.

    2. We bought a new Golf Alltrack with DSG two months ago. Our first VW. Our first DSG.
      While admitting that it is still very new, and also being aware of all the negative commentary re DSG, and VW in general, we are so far finding the experience enjoyable. There has been none of the hesitation, stumbling, or low speed driving problems. The transmission shifts gears smoothly, and quickly. We don’t drive it like a race car, nor do we drive it like a suburban granny. We drive it quite ‘normally’. I have been running it out with the revs for the first 2K, and so far, I am impressed.

      After decades of driving all types of vehicles, manual and auto, I don’t have the seemingly irrational obsession with manual transmissions. I leave that for the younger folk and their desire to impress everyone with their street ‘cred’. Been there, done that, many times. No longer required.
      Horses for courses. Driving a manual doesn’t impress me at all. I’ve done it since I first got my licence. No big deal. Now happy to use an auto in the city traffic.

      The one negative I have found with the DSG, is that it doesn’t appear to have much engine braking capability when going down through the mountains. So, more brake use required. More to come with that another time, but so far, I’m enjoying the Alltrack experience.

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