Volkswagen has revealed the latest version of its popular Golf family car, which includes innovative gesture control technology for the infotainment system.
Rather than an all-new model, the latest Golf is a mid-life refresh of the current Mk7 model, with only small changes to the exterior (new bumpers and front wings, plus revised headlights mark it out). We won't see a completely new Golf until the Mk8 version is launched in 2018.
The existing 1.0-litre petrol and 1.6- and 2.0-litre diesel engines will be joined by a new 1.5-litre petrol unit with cylinder-on-demand technology that allows it to run on just two of its four cylinders in order to save fuel. The 1.5 TSI Evo engine produces 148bhp in normal trim (along with a Combined fuel consumption figure of 57.6mpg in official EU tests and CO2 emissions of 110g/km), while a more efficient Bluemotion version with 128bhp (61.4mpg and 104g/km) will join later.
The Bluemotion also includes a coasting function that switches off the engine when the driver lifts of the accelerator, much like you'd experience in a hybrid vehicle (the steering and brakes are supplied with energy from a different source), helping to maximise fuel economy.
In addition to the manual gearbox, VW is also rolling out its seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, replacing the older six-speed unit in a bid to improve efficiency.
All models get an updated infotainment system, but you'll need a top-spec Golf to benefit from the full range of new technology offered in this facelift version. Thus equipped, the Golf's high-resolution central screen can be as large as 9.2in (even base models receive a 6.5in system, plus there's a new mid-level 8in version), and controlled by touch, voice or gesture control. Similar to the system offered in the BMW 7-series luxury car, gesture control allows you to scroll through menus, change radio stations or select songs or playlists from your media library by waving your hand in front of the sensor.
The new infotainment system also features a configurable home screen and will be rolled out to other Volkswagen models later in 2017.
As with the new Tiguan and Passat, the Golf will also be available with VW's Active Info Display digital dials. Similar to Audi's Virtual Cockpit, this replaces the conventional rev counter and speedometer with a 12.3in digital screen that can be configured in numerous ways, including showing the satnav. It is available on all models as an optional extra, while other interior changes include a selection of new trim colours and seat patterns.
The existing Golf is already packed with active safety equipment, such as autonomous emergency braking that can slow or stop the car if it senses you are going to run into another vehicle, but the new model extends the offering to include traffic jam assist, trailer assist and a pedestrian monitoring function for the automatic braking.
Traffic jam assist is available on cars with a DSG automatic gearbox an