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Driven: VW Golf 7.5 to recapture sales

Warm comfort: Volkswagen says the Comfortline will make up about one in four Golf sales.

Updated Golf to boost sales but top Japanese, Korean brands out of reach: VW

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Volkswagen logo4 Jul 2017

By TIM NICHOLSON

VOLKSWAGEN Group Australia (VGA) says it expects to exceed last year’s Golf sales tally with the ‘7.5’ series launched this week, but the company concedes it will not reach the 30,000 to 40,000 annual units recorded by its Japanese and Korean competitors.

The heavily upgraded version of the German car-maker’s best-selling model ushers in major specification upgrades over the outgoing Golf 7, as well as price increases, new technology and subtle styling tweaks.

Last year, Volkswagen sold 19,470 Golf hatches and wagons – excluding the high-riding Alltrack that found 887 homes – which was an 11.9 per cent fall on its record 2015 haul of 22,092 units.

VGA general manager of communications Paul Pottinger said the car-maker was determined to beat last year’s total with the arrival of the mid-life update this month.

“We want to sell 20,000 Golfs a year of all variants – Alltrack, wagon, hatch, GTI, R,” he said. “We want to do around 20,000. I think we have to.”

Despite the expected lift in sales, Mr Pottinger said Volkswagen did not expect, nor was it aiming for the Golf to hit the dizzying highs of the top sellers in the sub-$40,000 small-car segment, and took a swipe at some of its rivals.

“We don’t give away tens of thousands of cars to fleet. We are not a $19,990 car and we never will be,” he said.

“We don’t swim in that pool and I don’t think anyone expects us or wants us to.

We don’t compete against cars that still don’t have independent rear suspension and still have 1990s ‘atmo’ engines.”

Last year, the Toyota Corolla was the most popular small car in Australia with 40,330 sales, followed by the Hyundai i30 (37,772) and the Mazda3 (36,107), with the Golf taking fourth spot.

As previously reported, pricing on a large number of Golf variants has risen with the facelift, with the base 110TSI manual hatch up by $1150 over the outgoing version to kick the range off at $23,990 plus on-road costs, with a dual-clutch transmission adding $2500.

Pricing for the 110TSI Trendline has increased by $650 to $24,990 for the manual or $27,490 for the DCT, while the auto-only wagon is $1500 dearer than before and now starts at $28,990.

The auto-only Comfortline has risen by $650 for both the hatch and wagon, and all versions of the Highline have risen by $1150.

Highline variants are offered with both the 110TSI turbo-petrol and the 110TDI turbo-diesel, with prices starting at $34,490 for the petrol hatch and topping out at $38,490 for the oil-burning wagon.

The jacked-up Alltrack wagon line-up has grown from one to three variants with the mid-life update. There is a new entry-level 132TSI version from $34,490, the previous 132TSI gains the ‘Premium’ badge for $38,490 (a $150 increase) and a $40,990 diesel-powered 135TDI flagship is also now available.

Mr Pottinger said the Alltrack fills a space in the VW line-up for buyers who do not want a traditional SUV.

“We make no secret of the fact that we as a company need more SUVs, but we do actually have a breadth of soft-road and off-road vehicles that others don’t,” he said. “It’s not a sports utility vehicle, it’s a sporting utility vehicle – it’s a good deal more fun to drive.”

Mr Pottinger did acknowledge that there would likely be some crossover in sales of the Golf Alltrack and the Tiguan mid-size SUV.

“It’s a possibility. They might be looking for something practical, and by and large wagons are more practical than compact SUVs, just look at that boot space,” he said. “It’s very possible that someone might look at a $40,000 Tiguan and think, look what I can get for a $40,000 Golf.” VW’s spicier Golf GTI and R range – which has also increased with the addition of a wagon as a permanent member of the range – go on sale in August, with prices ranging from $41,490 for the manual GTI to $59,990 for the R Wolfsburg auto wagon.

VW says the Comfortline will be the top-selling variant, capturing one in four sales, but the company expects the GTI hot hatch to remain a favourite. Mr Pottinger said that the GTI regularly attracts up to 20 per cent of overall Golf sales, while the even hotter, all-wheel-drive R sometimes out sells the GTI.

The Golf 110TSI variants use a 110kW/250Nm 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine, while the 110TDI has a 110kW/340Nm turbo-diesel unit.

When paired with the six-speed manual gearbox, the 110TSI consumes 5.7 litres of fuel per 100km on the combined cycle, emits 133g/km of CO2 and can complete the 0-100km/h dash in 8.2 seconds.

In the auto-only wagon economy is 5.6L/100km, emissions 131g/km and 0-100km/h comes up in 8.6s.

The 2.0-litre turbo-diesel in the 110TDI sips 4.9L/100km, emits 129g/km of CO2 and takes 8.6s to reach 100km/h, while the wagon’s figures are 5.0L/100km, 132g/km and 8.9s respectively.

The Alltrack 132TSI is powered by a 132kW/280Nm 1.8-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder or a 135kW/380Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel in the 135TDI that the company says is the most powerful diesel ever to power a Golf in Australia.

VW’s 1.8-litre turbo-petrol is paired with a six-speed dual-clutch transmission that enables a 7.8s 0-100km/h time, while sipping 6.8L/100km and emitting 160g/km.

The potent 135kW 2.0-litre diesel hits 100km/h in 7.8s, consumes 5.4L/100km and emits 142g/km.

The visual changes to the Golf are subtle and include new front and rear bumpers, front wings, and headlight and all-LED tail-light design updates.

Standard safety gear from the base 110TSI up includes a suite of airbags, autonomous emergency braking, emergency flashing brake lights, ABS, multi-collision brake function, Isofix child seat anchorage points, rear foglights, a driver fatigue detection system, a reversing camera and child safety locks.

The Golf 110TSI features an 8.0-inch capacitive touchscreen display, App-Connect with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink, Bluetooth, eight-speaker stereo, manual air-conditioning, dust and pollen filter, cruise control, LED tail-lights and daytime running lights, a luggage cover, heated exterior mirrors, 60/40 split-fold rear seat, a three-spoke leather-covered steering wheel, cloth seats, power windows and 16-inch alloy wheels.

Trendline variants add auto headlights and rain-sensing wipers, front and rear parking sensors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a rear centre armrest with cupholders, lumbar adjustment for driver and front passenger seats, follow-me-home headlights, and black roof rails and a luggage partition net for the wagon.

Comfortline variants add dual-zone climate control, a higher-grade 8.0-inch audio and sat-nav system, a Media Control system that controls some functions wirelessly via a tablet or smartphone, more luxurious front seats, a 12V outlet in the luggage compartment, a storage drawer under the front seat, and 17-inch alloys.

The Highline gains front foglights, sports front seats, leather-appointed upholstery with heated front seats, electrically adjustable driver’s seat with memory, keyless entry/start, power-folding door mirrors, panoramic electric sunroof, LED headlights and different 17-inch alloy wheels.

Alltrack variants feature LED tail-lights, AEB and a leather multi-function steering wheel among other things, while the Alltrack Premium adds leather-appointed upholstery, heated front seats, Media Control, dynamic cornering LED headlights, a colour multi-function display, and carpet floor mats.

Depending on the variant, buyers can also opt for one of three options packages, including the Driver Assistance Package, Infotainment Package and R-Line, which adds, among other things, a number of sporty visual flourishes.

2017 Volkswagen Golf pricing*
Hatchback
110TSI$23,990
110TSI (a)$26,490
110TSI Trendline$24,990
110TSI Trendline (a)$27,490
110TSI Comfortline (a)$28,990
110TSI Highline (a)$34,490
110TDI Highline (a)$36,990
GTI$41,490
GTI (a)$43,990
GTI Performance Edition 1 (a)$47,990
R$52,990
R (a)$55,490
R Wolfsburg Edition (a)$57,990
Wagon
110TSI Trendline (a)$28,990
110TSI Comfortline (a)$30,490
110TSI Highline (a)$35,990
110TDI Highline (a)$38,490
R (a)$57,490
R Wolfsburg Edition (a)$59,990
Alltrack
132TSI (a)$34,490
132TSI Premium (a)$38,490
135TDI Premium (a)$40,990

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