Holden Astra 2017 review
There are those who like hatchbacks, and those who prefer sedans. Whichever way you lean, Holden hopes it has something to please you with hatch and sedan versions of its Astra small car.
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Sometimes, it feels like shopping for a car is a lot like looking for a large piece of furniture.
You know it's going to cost a packet, and you're likely to be using it for years to come, so spending more on a piece you like, or looking a bit further afield than you might otherwise, is probably a wise approach.
But, just like that spotted gum double-door corner entertainment unit you saw in that one store, the Golf – especially in its new Mark VII.5 guise – is worth going back for another look.
|Volkswagen Golf 2017: 92 TSI Trendline|
|Engine Type||1.4L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
The light makeover for the 2017 Golf range means you'll struggle to pick the difference from 20 paces away, but the revised front bar and headlight combo do flow nicely into the tweaked front guards, while new 17-inch alloys also tidies things up.
It's not the most avant garde styling in the market, sure, but it works in an understated way.
Inside, the big star is the flush-mounted multimedia screen in the centre of the dash, as well as the optional Active Info Display dash. The new digital screen helps to lift the cabin of the Comfortline another notch, and while I'm still a fan of the standard instrument cluster fitted to our tester, the digital dashboard is a pretty amazing thing to look at.
The Mk VII's interior has always been sharp. Sure, there are still hard plastics hidden away out of your eyeline, but its contemporary design and ease of use has always stood it in good stead.
In comparison, the Golf wagon offers 605 litres with the 60/40 split/fold rear seats up, and a comparable 1620 litres when folded down (you can lower those seats via handles in the cargo area, too).
So, the Golf is smaller and lighter, arguably easier to punt around a confined space like a shopping centre carpark, and it can carry more stuff when all its seats are up. Next...
Despite only being 9.0mm longer overall, the wagon has an extra 150mm of space between its front and rear axles, and its interior passenger space is virtually identical to that of the hatch. All that room is in the rear end.
There's more rear headroom, of course, thanks to the straighter roofline, while toe and knee room will keep even larger teens happy.
ISOFIX anchors on the outside pair of chairs means child restraints are a snap to fit. It's a bit harder to get wriggly kids into the space thanks to the lower overall height of the Golf when compared to an SUV, but it's not insurmountable.
Two smallish bottle holders live up front, and two more hide in the rear centre armrest. Door pockets all around can also hold drink containers.
If there is a shortfall in the Golf, it's in the area of connectivity. There's no charge points for rear seat passengers at all, which is a strange oversight given there's a 12-volt socket in the rear cargo area. There's only a single USB port up front, too, in a spot that can be awkward to access.
On the whole, though, the Golf Comfortline makes for a good daily companion that offers more flexibility in wagon form.
Volkswagen has tweaked its offerings for this 2017 update, and while it's never going to go for cheap and cheerful, it's worked hard on assembling a spec package that looks good on paper as well as in the showroom.
We're testing the Comfortline wagon, which sits bang in the middle of the three-strong Golf wagon mix. It's on for $30,490 plus on-road costs, and comes with VW's 110kW 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission driving the front wheels.
All Golfs now come equipped with things like AEB, reversing cameras, LED tail-lights, leather bound steering wheels and LED DRLs, while the Comfortline adds auto lights and wipers, front and rear parking sensors, unique front seats, roof rails, 17-inch alloys and a rear centre armrest with cupholders.
If you want the groovy 'Active Info Display' dash, you'll need to stump up $2300 more for the 'Infotainment Pack', which also adds a larger 9.2-inch flatscreen multimedia system with gesture control and more speakers.
There's also an 'R-Line' pack for $2500, which gives your Comfortline the bodykit and ride height of a GTI without the go-faster stuff.
Our tip? The Comfortline is already pretty well equipped, but the Driver Assist pack is a good addition. The R-Line kit looks the goods, too, but you'll lose some of the daily practicality of the car when it comes to the potential of curbing rims and scraping bumpers.
The 110TSI 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine is a staple of the Golf line, and blends mid-range urge and economy well.
Making 110kW between 5000 and 6000rpm, the undersquare 1.4 produces 250Nm from a low of 1500rpm through to 3500rpm.
Backed by a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, the wagon is a bit slower from 0-100km/h than the hatch (8.6 versus 8.2), and its consumption and emissions are slightly higher, too.
If you need to tow with your Golf Comfortline wagon, it'll handle up to 1500kg of braked trailer, with a relatively low 80kg maximum downball weight. Your tinny or small pop-top shouldn't present a drama.
Volkswagen reckons the Comfortline wagon should consume 5.6L/100km on the combined fuel economy cycle. After 320km of testing across highway and urban driving, we had used 21 litres of fuel, resulting in a real world figure of 6.5L/100km.
For a five-seater with a tonne of luggage space, that's not too shabby.
The Golf's tank is 50 litres in size, and 95RON unleaded is recommended as a minimum.
This is where the Golf really comes into its own. When you're shopping for a car, it's one thing to keep a black and white list of which model offers what – and that's a sensible place to start.
But when time comes to pick and choose, you'll be hard pressed not to see and feel the difference between the Golf and its competitors once you slide behind the wheel.
The Comfortline is serene, quiet and very well mannered, with a sophisticated ride quality, excellent steering and top notch handling.
At city and highway speeds, the Golf exudes a calm quality that can be absent in similarly sized and priced competitors – and it's a big step forward in dynamics when you compare it to a typical high-riding SUV.
The 110kW 1.4-litre turbo-petrol engine works well with the seven-speed 'DSG' dual-clutch around town, and – importantly for a small car - holds its own when the going gets hilly.
There's no real difference between the hatch and wagon in terms of dynamics, even though there's a 63kg weight variance between the two. If anything, the wagon is more settled thanks to the extra mass.
3 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
Scoring a maximum of five ANCAP stars back at the launch of the Mk VII in 2013, the latest version carries over the same safety score.
Seven airbags, a reversing camera and automatic emergency braking can be found across the Golf range, but you'll need to spend $1300 more to get other driver aids like blind spot monitoring and lane assist.
A three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty is standard on the Golf Comfortline, with suggested service intervals of 15,000km or 12 months.
A capped price servicing program is available for a period of six years, with prices topping out at at $1082 for a 60,000km/four-year service. The total outlay is $3162 (pollen filters and brake fluid costs not included in the service cost, which is more expensive than other competitors in the space like Mazda and Toyota.
Every time a car dealer sells a small wagon instead of an SUV, somewhere an angel gets its wings... for anyone looking for a small, easy to handle, easy to live with urban car that exudes practicality and style, the updated Golf Comfortline wagon has a lot going for it.
Unfortunately, the fickle winds of fashion aren't blowing in that direction – but really, even if you're looking at even a medium-sized SUV, make sure you take a Golf wagon for a drive. You might be surprised.
|110 TDI Highline||2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP||$21,900 – 29,700||2017 Volkswagen Golf 2017 110 TDI Highline Pricing and Specs|
|110 TSI||1.4L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$12,900 – 18,700||2017 Volkswagen Golf 2017 110 TSI Pricing and Specs|
|110 TSI Comfortline||1.4L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$15,800 – 22,000||2017 Volkswagen Golf 2017 110 TSI Comfortline Pricing and Specs|
|110 TSI Highline||1.4L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$20,300 – 27,610||2017 Volkswagen Golf 2017 110 TSI Highline Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||8|
|Engine & trans||8|