FROM the outside, not much has changed. Get on the road, and the seventh generation Volkswagen Golf is poised to hit its opposition for six.
Composed with a remarkably quiet cabin, there is little to fault with this versatile hatchback that will reach showrooms by April 28.
The range has been rationalised from nine models to four, with the entry-level price dropped by $500 to $21,490.
It's an aggressive pricing structure from Volkswagen, offering good value right up to the range-topping diesel at $34,490.
While the looks won't inspire envy nor will it win a beauty contest in the ultra competitive small car environment - that's not what Golf buyers want. They expect it to have similar lines and interior space. Changing the styling would be like RM Williams adding fluro boots to its range.
There are three engine options, a 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol with two levels of tune (90 kilowatts and 103kW), along with a 110kW turbo diesel.
There are two transmissions, a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual clutch automatic.
We sampled the range at today's launch in Victoria through Melbourne traffic and undulating country roads.
The Golf is one competent thing. Even the entry-level offering has responsive punch and performance which would offer suitability for most drivers.
Its road manners are impressive, with little noise entering the cabin. Our only minor complaint was some tyre noise from the rear.
Three trim levels are available, including the basic Golf which comes with a 14cm touch-screen, leather multi-function steering wheel, cruise control, Bluetooth audio steaming and phone connectivity, along with CD stereo with USB and SD card slot.
Pay an extra $3500 and it takes you into the Comfortline range. That adds 16-inch alloys, auto wipers and lights, a good-looking brushed metal finish on the dash and doors, dual zone air con, parking sensors front and rear, as well as a rear view camera.
The Highline is the range-topper which also gets fog lights, 17-inch alloys, sports seats with suede inserts, sat nav, glossy interior features, LED ambient lighting and carpet floor mats.
Highline is only available with automatic transmissions with the 103TDI and 103TSI.
Seven airbags are standard, along with stability control and its associated gizmos, plus a cool fatigue warning system which analyses your driving and advises when to take a break. The Golf has a five-star safety rating in Australia and Europe.
Servicing is capped for six years or 90,000km. Average price for annual servicing of the petrol models is $352, diesel is $395.
A driver assist package is available with Comfortline and Highline models for $1300, which includes radar cruise control, a choice of driving modes (including sport, eco and indvidualised) and an automatic parking system.
Model: Volkswagen Golf Mk7.
Details: Five-door small-size front-wheel drive hatchback.
Engines: 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol generating maximum power of 90kW @ 5000-6000rpm and peak torque of 200Nm @ 1500-3000rpm; 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol 103kW @ 4500-6000rpm and 250Nm @ 1500-3000rpm; 2.0-litre turbo diesel 110kW @ 3500-4000rpm and 320Nm @ 1750-3000rpm.
Transmissions: Six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG automatic.
Consumption: 90TSI - 5.7 litres/100km (combined average, manual), 5.4 auto; 103 TSI 5.2L/100km; 110TDI - 4.9L/100km.
CO2: 90 TSI - 133g/km (manual), 126 (a); 103TSI - 121g/km; 110TDI 129g/km.
Bottom line: 90TSI $21,490 (m), 90TSI $23,990 (a), 103TSI Comfortline $24,990 (a), 103TSI Comfortline $27,490 (a), 103TSI Highline (a) $31,990, 110TDI Highline $34,490 (a).