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Volkswagen Golf


Hyundai i40

Summary

Volkswagen Golf

The Volkswagen Golf. More than 33 million produced over 40 years and seven generations. It's not quite more popular than blue jeans, or the iPhone, but it's close. 

Actually, make that seven and a half generations, because this is Golf 7.5; as the name implies, a substantial mid-life upgrade of the current model.

VW claims more than 200,000 Golfs have been sold in Australia over the last 15 years, but the small-car premier league is currently led by the Hyundai i30, Mazda3 and Toyota's evergreen Corolla.

Despite its global heavy-hitter reputation, Golf battles with a group of tier-two contenders in the shape of the Honda Civic, Kia Cerato, and Subaru Impreza.

So, to raise the stakes and, it's hoping, sales, VW has injected new life into its hugely respected marquee player with a range of design tweaks and tech upgrades.

Safety rating
Engine Type1.4L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency5.2L/100km
Seating5 seats

Hyundai i40

A wagon and not an SUV, eh? Respect. You see, when most people now think of a new car they think of an SUV, especially when they want something with a bit of cargo space. But not you. 

And for thinking outside the box you’ll be rewarded with something that’s better to drive than most SUVs – like the Hyundai i40 Tourer in the Active grade and a diesel engine we’ve road tested here.

So, what are the strengths and weaknesses of this Korean wagon, and should you wait or buy it now? Read on to find out.

Safety rating
Engine Type1.7L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency5.1L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Volkswagen Golf8.3/10

The Golf 7.5 is a great package from top to bottom. Volkswagen has hit all the right marks to bring its already excellent offering up to the pointy end of the intensely competitive small-car segment. And we think the entry-point 110TSI offers the best value of all. With high-end safety tech, amazing dynamics, a snappy drivetrain and sharp (introductory) drive-away pricing it will give the market leaders something to think about. And buyers as well.

Has Volkswagen done enough with this upgrade to put the Golf on your small car shopping list? Tell us what you think in the comments below.


Hyundai i407.1/10

The i40 Tourer in the Active grade is great to drive, it’s practical, and should be low-cost to run. But you can bet the new version, due to arrive soon, will be, too. If you can wait, it's a safe bet the new i40 Tourer will have an updated look, improved safety equipment and retain all the good points of the previous model. 

Would you buy the current i40, or would you be mad not to wait for the new one, coming soon? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Design

Volkswagen Golf8/10

Unveiled late last year at the Paris Motor Show, the new Golf is available in three flavours – the familiar hatch, and a compact wagon, with the latter forming the basis of an all-wheel-drive, Alltrack variant.

From a design point of view you'll be hard-pressed to pick the Golf 7.5, with exterior changes focused on new headlights, revised front guards, and a restyled bumper. Think of it as an almost unnoticeable haircut.

At the back, the bumper has also been refreshed, and LED tail-lights are now standard across the range.

The wagon is a handsome alternative to the ubiquitous compact SUV, with the lines of the roof and glasshouse (identical to the hatch from nose to C-pillar) flowing seamlessly into a gently tapering and neatly composed rear end.

Inside, there's a new 8.0-inch multimedia screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support standard on all models (as well as a 'Mirror Link' function for full Wi-Fi connection of tablet or mobile devices).

It's surprising how much of a difference the sleek new screen makes to the interior. Suddenly, the Golf's already premium character has been lifted to a different level.

The cool and classy cabin layout is otherwise largely unchanged, highlighted with dark accents on the volume models, and 'piano black' inserts on the Highline. The quality and attention to design detail are obvious.


Hyundai i407/10

The i40 wagon looks good, I even caught myself doing that admiring 'look back' thing you do when you walk away from your car. Thing is, the current i40 has the ‘old’ Hyundai styling that dates it compared to the new i30, Sonata and Kona, which reflect the brand’s latest look.

This brings me to something you should really know – the newer, updated i40 will arrive in Australia soon, and it will be more in line with Hyundai’s current design approach.

The i40 is also up against some hot-looking rivals. The Mondeo is gorgeous, the Passat is stately, and the Commodore also looks stunning. To be honest the i40 is the least attractive of that lot form where I’m looking. It’s also about the same size as that trio at 4775mm long, 1815mm wide and 1470mm in height.

My mum would call the interior of the i40 Active smart looking, but she doesn’t mean tech-smart, more school dance smart, and if she ever said that before you went to a school dance you’d get changed immediately.

Yes, it looks smart in a tidy, stylish way, but that tiny screen, cloth seats and ordinary plastics lower the tone compared to the Premium's more 'premium' interior. 

Practicality

Volkswagen Golf8/10

At just under 4.3 metres long the Golf hatch is small, but by no means cramped. There's tonnes of room and storage space up front with two cupholders, door pockets with bottle holders, and plenty of oddments space including a decent glovebox and a lidded bin between the seats.

All but the entry model pick-up another pair of cupholders in the rear, with adjustable air conditioning vents and flow control in the back of the front centre console, too.

Speaking of the back, there's heaps of room in there. I'm 183cm tall, and sitting behind my own driving position, I enjoyed surprisingly generous head and legroom.

Volkswagen claims 380 litres of cargo volume with the 60/40 split folding rear seats up, and a generous 1270 litres with them tipped forward.

Pushing towards 4.6 metres in length, the Golf wagon only nudges up 15mm in the wheelbase, so passenger accommodation is virtually identical to the hatch. And not surprisingly, it's in the luggage department where things start to diverge.

Even with the 60/40 split folding rear seats up the wagon boasts a hefty 605 litres of load space, growing to a cavernous 1620 litres with the second-row seats folded.


Hyundai i408/10

The i40 wagon nails the practicality category. Storage space is excellent with a deep, wide console bin under the centre armrest, and there’s another big well in front of the gear shifter. 

There are large pockets in all the doors with bottle holders, two cupholders up front and another two in the fold-down rear armrest, plus another storage area in there, too.

The i40 Tourer’s 506 litre cargo capacity is good, but can’t beat the Passat’s 650 litres, while it matches the Mazda6 wagon’s boot space.

Rear legroom borders on limo territory and even at 191cm I can sit behind my driving position with about 50mm of space between my knees and the seat back. Headroom back there is also extremely generous.
The rear doors open wide, making for an easy exit or entry, too.

Price and features

Volkswagen Golf8/10

Headline news is an aggressive introductory drive-away pricing strategy, designed to challenge the traditionally cheaper segment leaders, with the standard features list growing appreciably at the same time.

The previous entry-level 92TSI hatch has departed the building, with pricing now set across an $18.5k band from $23,990 drive-away (MSRP $23,990) for the 110TSI, to the all-wheel-drive Alltrack 135TDI Premium at $42,490 drive-away (MSRP $40,990).

The hatch offers a choice of four grades - base, Trendline, Comfortline, and Highline - with the current 1.4-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine powering all of them. A 2.0-litre turbo-diesel 110TDI version is available in the top-shelf Highline spec.

For that shrinking pool of people familiar with three pedals across the driver's footwell, a six-speed manual gearbox is available in the base and Trendline models, with Volkswagen's excellent 'DSG' dual-clutch auto offered across the line-up.

The wagon range comprises the top three grades, with diesel again an option on the primo Highline. The DSG dual-clutch is the only transmission available.

The Alltrack is a two-grade affair – base and Premium - with the choice of a 1.8-litre turbo-petrol, or higher output 2.0-litre turbo-diesel, with any gearbox you like, as long as it's a DSG (six-speed for the petrol, and seven for the diesel).

The entry-level 110TSI hatch is anything but a 'bait and switch' price-leader. It's loaded with everything from cruise control (with speed limit function) to seven airbags and driver-fatigue detection.

In fact, on top of the new multimedia screen and its connected functionality, all Golfs are now also fitted with auto emergency braking (AEB), alloy wheels (of various sizes), air-con, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, LED daytime running lights, and a rear-view camera as standard.

Step into to the Trendline from $25,490 drive-away (MSRP $24,990), and things like rain-sensing wipers, auto headlights, parking sensors, different 16-inch alloys, and a rear centre armrest (with cupholders) come your way.

Then the Comfortline from $29,990 drive-away (MSRP $28,990) adds 17-inch rims, dual-zone climate control air, 'Comfort' front seats, chrome interior and exterior highlights (including the wagon's roof rails), and a storage drawer under the front passenger seat.

Stump up for the Highline from $35,990 (MSRP $34,490) and the fruit starts to tumble in, with the highlights including 'leather-appointed' trim, 'Comfort Sport' front seats with electric adjustment and memory function for the driver, keyless entry and start, interior ambient lighting, LED headlights and a panoramic electric glass sunroof.

Three option packs are offered – 'Infotainment' ($2300), available on Comfortline and Highline, brings the excellent 'Active Info' configurable instrument display. It also adds 'Discover Pro' multimedia, delivered through a larger 9.2-inch screen, managing sat nav and other functions via gesture, touch, and voice control, as well as a top-shelf Dynaudio sound system.

'Park Assist', taking over the wheel for perpendicular or parallel parking manoeuvrers, is the star of the 'Driver Assistance' package ($1500), and the R-Line pack ($2500) brings the look, and some of the feel, of the GTI and Golf R, with a bodykit, bigger rims, and tuned suspension.

The entry-level Alltrack 132TSI at $35,990 drive-away (MSRP $34,490) is close to the hatch and wagon's Highline spec, although you'll need to opt for the flagship Premium version from $39,990 (MSRP $38,490) to pick up the partial leather trim, heated front seats and LED headlights.

Alltrack option packs are 'Driver Assistance' ($1800), 'Infotainment' ($2300), and 'Sport Luxury' ($2900), which includes 18-inch alloys, the electric seat adjustment, panoramic roof, and more.


Hyundai i407/10

There are only two grades in the i40 range - 'Active' and 'Premium'. And when it comes to engines you again have two choices - petrol or diesel. The latter adding $2600 to the price.

If you’re looking for the most affordable way into an i40 wagon go for the Active. Listing at a base price of $35,690, 'our' i40 Active Tourer diesel had one option – 'Ocean View' metallic paint, adding an extra $595.
 
The Active grade costs $9160 less than Premium, and as much as I’d like to say that top-spec car is pretty much the same, with some shiny bits of door trim added, I’d be lying. 

The Active really does miss out on some decent stuff – the screen is the smallest I’ve seen since I wore a digital watch, at 4.3-inch (the Premium has a 7.0-inch), there’s air-con but not climate control, there’s keyless entry but not a proximity key or push button start.

The Active doesn’t get a power tailgate with a handsfree function like the Premium, or tinted rear glass, or a digital speedo, or a panoramic sunroof, or a power adjustable driver’s seat, or heated seats, all of which are standard on the Premium grade.

Yup, the Active may be as base grade as you can get but it still comes with paddles shifters, LED daytime running lights, an electric handbrake with auto hold function, front and rear parking sensors, cloth seats and 16-inch alloy wheels.

A list price nudging $36K may seem high, but don’t’ forget you’re paying more for the diesel engine. There’s good reason to spend the extra on the diesel, too – which I’ll explain below.

The i40 Active Tourer diesel undercuts the $39,040 Ford Mondeo Ambiente diesel wagon, while the Volkswagen Passat 140TDI wagon only comes in the mid-spec Highline grade for $49,990 (and is a bit ‘next level’ by comparison), while the Mazda6 wagon in Touring spec with diesel engine is $41,440. 

Other rivals? Yes, the new Holden Commodore Sportwagon diesel is $38,890. So, compared to its rivals the i40 Active Tourer is a bit of a bargain.

Engine & trans

Volkswagen Golf8/10

The Golf hatch and wagon range is in large part powered by the EA211 1.4-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine, a stalwart of the Australian Golf range since the seventh-generation version arrived here in 2013.

Featuring 16 valves, direct-injection, and a single turbocharger, in Golf 7.5 guise it produces 110kW from 5000-6000rpm, and 250Nm across a broad plateau from just 1500-3500rpm.

Base and Trendline models are available with a six-speed manual, while VW's excellent (and ever-improving) 'DSG' dual-clutch auto spans the line-up.

If diesel's more your thing, a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged unit is available on the Highline model, producing an identical 110kW at 3500-4000rpm, with torque stepping up to 340Nm from 1750-3000rpm.

The diesel's a manual-free zone, with the seven-speed DSG the only option, but no matter what type of transmission you choose, drive goes exclusively to the front wheels.

Climbing (modest) mountains and fording (gentle) streams is the Alltrack's department, with power coming courtesy of a 1.8-litre turbo-petrol four, delivering 132kW from 4500-6200rpm and 280Nm from 1350-4500rpm.

Alternately, a higher output version of the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four is an option on the high-spec Alltrack Premium, delivering 135kW from 3500-4000rpm, and an even gruntier 380Nm, the peak arriving at 1750rpm and hanging around until 3000rpm.

Petrol Alltracks are fitted with a six-speed dual clutch auto, while the diesel features an extra ratio, both sending drive to all four wheels via the '4Motion' permanent all-wheel drive system.

Built around an electronically-controlled multi-plate clutch pack, 4Motion uses an ECU integrated with the car's ESC set-up to continuously vary the torque split between front and rear axles.


Hyundai i407/10

This is another area in which our test car impressed with its 1.7-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel and seven-speed dual clutch auto transmission.

At 104kW, it may be less powerful than the petrol (121kW) but its 340Nm of torque gave it the shove to accelerate impressively from 1750rpm (idle is 800rpm).

The engine and dual-clutch combination performs beautifully; smooth even at low speed in traffic, and shifting down intuitively to make best use of engine braking.

Fuel consumption

Volkswagen Golf8/10

Gone are the days where a manual gearbox would outperform an auto transmission in the battle of the bowser.

Volkswagen claims the base (petrol, manual) Golf will consume 5.7L/100km on the combined (urban/extra urban) cycle, emitting 133g/km of CO2 in the process.

But swap out the manual for a dual-clutch, and that figure drops to 5.4L/100km for the hatch (128g/km) and 5.6 for the wagon (131g/km).

Tick the diesel option for the top-shelf Highline and your wallet will be even happier; the hatch consuming just 4.9L/100km (129g/km), and the wagon a round 5.0 (132g/km).

Step up to the Alltrack petrol and you're looking at 6.8L/100km (160g/km), with the high-output diesel sipping only 5.4 (142g/km).

The fuel tank in the hatch and wagon holds 50 litres, while the Alltrack's grows to 55 litres. And it's worth noting the petrol units are tuned for minimum 95RON premium unleaded.


Hyundai i407/10

Hyundai will tell you the i40 Tourer diesel will get 5.1L/100km over a combination of open and urban roads. The trip computer in our test car said it was averaging 7.4L/100km. Still, that’s not bad mileage.

Driving

Volkswagen Golf9/10

The overriding, almost overwhelming first impression in driving any recent Golf is the outstanding ride quality. You'd swear the wheelbase was half as long again, because it rides like a larger, luxury car.

Even the entry-level vehicle is quiet, comfortable, and refined. Steering feel is great, and the petrol 1.4 is smooth and eager; there's simply no way you'd pick it as a turbo.

Volkswagen claims 8.2 seconds for the sprint from 0-100km/h for the base car, whether you're shifting the gears yourself or the tricky dual-clutch is doing it for you.

That's pretty much the Goldilocks performance zone for a car that's likely to do most of its work in the urban jungle, yet needs to  retain the ability to confidently stride out onto the open road when required.

The diesel version is only fractionally slower to licence-loss velocity (8.6sec), and while it doesn't feel as revvy and urgent, it packs a satisfying punch of mid-range torque. It is definitely and noticeably noisier, though.

As usual, the Golf is a model of ergonomic efficiency, with the new multimedia screen enhancing ease of use and connectivity, the seats front and rear are comfortable yet supportive, and you're spoiled for choice between the sweet six-speed manual and rapid-fire DSG (with wheel-mounted paddles on upper variants).

The wagon employs the same strut front, four-link rear suspension arrangement as the hatch, and despite its extra length and interior volume it gives nothing away in terms of noise suppression or general refinement.

Moving up the spec pecking order from 16-, through 17-, to optional 18-inch alloy wheels does nothing to compromise overall composure;, body control is exceptional, and the brakes are agreeably progressive.

Response from the Alltrack's more powerful engines is partially offset by an increase in kerb weight (petrol +165kg / diesel +101kg), with the 1.8-litre petrol and high-output 2.0-litre diesel both recording 7.8sec 0-100km/h. But despite its more macho appearance and SUV-focused rubber, the Alltrack is an equally refined drive.


Hyundai i407/10

A comfortable ride, impressive handling for the class, and a great engine and transmission mean the i40 Active Tourer diesel is engaging and enjoyable to drive. 

The driving position is excellent, the seats are large but supportive, and the pedal feel is spot on. The i40 Tourer is way better to drive than it needs to be and would embarrass some cars from more prestigious brands.

It’s not all perfect: the cabin could be better insulated with wind noise obvious at 90km/h and tyre rumble intruding on course chip roads; visibility is hampered by those slanted A-pillars and the reversing camera image is next to useless thanks to the business card-sized screen in the Active.

Safety

Volkswagen Golf9/10

Golfs of all descriptions incorporate an impressive array of standard safety tech, including active features like cruise control (with programmable speed limiter), distance warning display, driver fatigue detection, AEB, ABS, EBD, BA, EDL, multi-collision brake, ASR, tyre-pressure indicator, and a rear-view camera.

And when all that isn't enough to avoid a collision, no less than seven airbags are on board (driver and front passenger head and side, driver's knee and front and rear curtain).

There are three child-restraint top tether points across the back seat, with ISOFIX anchors on the two outer positions.

As well as the previously mentioned auto-parking feature, the optional driver assistance package includes adaptive cruise control, lane assist, blind spot monitor, and rear traffic alert.

Although the 7.5 upgrade hasn't been specifically tested by ANCAP, the current Golf scored a maximum five-star rating when it was assessed at launch in early 2013.


Hyundai i406/10

Hyundai’s website says the i40 Tourer scores the maximum five-star ANCAP rating. That’s true, but a bit sneaky because that ranking was given to the car back in 2013, and a lot has changed in terms of safety equipment in five years. 

AEB, for example, is becoming common. So is rear cross traffic alert and blind spot warning, along with adaptive cruise control. You can’t get any of this advanced safety equipment on the current i40, not even the top-spec Premium.

Don’t get me wrong, the i40 is extremely safe with its suite of airbags, plus traction and stability controls - it’s just that the bar for safety has been raised higher.

The new i40 is expected to come armed with more up-to-date safety equipment.
 
If you’re fitting child seats you’ll find two ISOFIX mounts and three top tether anchor points across the rear row. It’s great to see a full-sized spare wheel under the boot floor, too.

Ownership

Volkswagen Golf8/10

Volkswagen Australia's new-vehicle warranty covers three years/unlimited km, with paint covered for the same period, and the main steel body structure is under warranty for no less than 12 years (unlimited km).

Recommended service interval is 12 months/15,000km, with indicative costs for the first five years/75,000km ranging from a low of $318, to a high of $751, for a total of $2276, and an average of $455 per service.


Hyundai i408/10

The i40 Tourer is covered by Hyundai’s five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty. Servicing is recommended every 15,000km/12months at a capped price of $339. A servicing plan is also available for three years ($777), four years ($1136), and five years ($1395).