BOLD, a statement maker, a way to flee the mundanity of everyday life. Therein lies the brilliance of the 2022 Golf 110TSI Life, say Volkswagen. Sure, the new Golf is brilliant, but not through boldness. It’s by doing what made it so revered, better than it ever has.
We get it. All things must now be about expressing yourself, about being flamboyant in the face of an unenlightened world.
Certainly, you can order your Golf Life in the ‘Pomello Yellow’ of our test vehicle and drive down an alleyway to do a backflip in front of some graffiti. More power to you.
The rest of us however look to the Golf as the premier all-rounder. A tool to make the everyday easier, more practical – a way to master your routine rather than escape it.
A trademark impeccable drive, unending quality, unexpected spaciousness, and the happiness that comes from owning a small hatch. The Golf Life has it all.
By the way, all the other colour schemes are more suited to the average person – Deep Black, Moonstone Grey, Dolphin Grey, Reflex Silver, Pure White, and Atlantic Blue.
Our road test of the 110TSI Life began in the Sydney CBD. Much livelier post-lockdown, the city is again coughing up plenty of movement and unpredictability, and the Golf loved every minute of it.
Dodging the skirmish of delivery mopeds, the car felt as light on its feet as a jackrabbit. Unsurprisingly, it revealed itself to be a beautiful city runabout, meeting the variable environment with a chirpy responsiveness.
Initially the ride felt perhaps too firm, but that was disputed as we peeled out through Ultimo. Some fresh potholes on Abercrombie Street had us bracing, but the car softened these blows with such indifference it was almost arrogant.
Describing the ride as firm softness is in no way nonsensical. Condemned to the inevitable bumper-to-bumper while departing the city, we soaked up the interior. You’re given your space in the Golf – plenty of headroom, airiness, visibility.
Yet the feeling remains of being gripped in a friendly embrace. This is partially thanks to the driver-oriented dash angling now so widespread across VW Group vehicles and partially because of the absurdly comfortable front seats.
We had ‘comfort sport’ seats included in the comfort and style extras package. These have excellent back support and a snug pocket for your rear-end. Rear occupants will still be cosy in back, on the standard seats too.
Even if you’re 190cm tall and perched in the front, they’ll be left with a reasonable amount of legroom back there. Styling of VW’s Innovision Cockpit is easy on the eye, and as pretty as the German’s can muster.
Everything you touch and activate feels of exceptional quality. The Digital Cockpit Pro is a delightful take on an instrument cluster.
Once the apparent complexity of the Discover Pro 10-inch touch display is overcome (give yourself 15 minutes of fiddling), it’s both fun and simple to navigate. All vehicle settings are consolidated in this digital command centre.
Everything from climate control, the colour of the mood lighting that emanates from the trimming, and all safety and drive settings are readily available. Phone applications connect to the system wirelessly and your device can be charged on the wireless charging pad.
Once we’d emerged from the thick of it, we headed north via the Old Pacific Highway. The next 50km of smooth, meandering tarmac was a selfishly enjoyable way to see if the 110TSI has the handling it should. The result? Better than we imagined.
Don’t let the Golf’s light feet make you think it won’t feel planted through quick bends. Every curve in the slalom was linked perfectly and with an alarming amount of grip. It’s forgiving if you overcook it, but for the most part you find yourself getting it right.
The front wheel drive system must be one of the best in any hatchback right now, and with the electronic locking differential you are promised serious handling even in the poorest of road conditions.
110KW from the 1.5-litre 4-cylinder is enough stab to kick you out of the corners or get you off the mark with relative haste. The fun didn’t end in the hill climbs either – 250Nm of torque ensuring the joy of cornering can continue as you’re hoisted up the incline.
Even while driving in this spirited fashion, gear changes were very neat. Left behind with the Mk7 is the 7-speed dual clutch box, and in its place is an 8-speed torque converter automatic. In every way, it’s a better transmission.
It’s well worth knocking the nifty gear selector into Sport and messing about with the paddles too. Shifting ourselves on a challenging stretch of road made the car outrageously fun. Who cares if it’s not a GTI? There were big smiles anyway.
As the slalom ended something occurred to us. Not once had we thought about everyday life. Maybe this car is the perfect escape from mundanity. One thing is for sure, you just want to keep driving.
With this in mind, we continued our journey even further north, opting for the motorway. As expected, the car didn’t shrink beside big saloons, instead nobly puffing out it’s chest and getting to work.
Again the 8-speed came into play, really smoothing out high-speed overtaking manoeuvres. The car maintained a composed demeanour for the entire highway stint.
It’s robust enough to crank it in the far lane and reserved enough to settle in for a long one in the inner lane. The semi-autonomous Travel Assist feature also worked very well.
This system eliminates half the need for the driver as adaptive cruise control and lane assist handle lane keeping and acceleration. Travel Assist is part of the IQ-Drive safety suite, which along with eight airbags, contribute to a 5-star ANCAP safety rating.
Our closing destination was Newcastle’s coal country, where we parked to consider the Golf’s contentious new looks. Our first challenge was sitting in a neon hatchback and not being mistaken for protesters currently frequenting the area.
The second was coming to terms with the Golf’s new snout. At first the flattened headlights and little fins on the lower grille give it some resemblance to a porpoise. But continue staring and a certain amount of affection for the softer front end sets in.
It’s all very Golf-like down the side, the new spiralling 17-inch Ventura alloys garnering most of your attention. Some added spice for the Life variant includes electronic folding mirrors and funky illuminated door handle recesses.
The rear end looks fantastic – the tweaked taillights and exhaust surrounds bring the Golf right into the 2020’s, without tampering with its heritage. So what else is good and Golf? The boot is still big – 347-litres in capacity. Fuel economy is excellent, if you make it so.
We’d hit 6.8-litres/100km when we first looked, a consequence of our vigorous slalom run. Typically, usage hovers around 5.8-litres/100km, exactly as VW specify. Painfully slow driving can fetch 5.3-litres/100km.
Lay down $38,919 and you can drive away in the Golf Life. Another $2000 gets you those upgraded seats and a panoramic sunroof. Volkswagen are right, this car is an escape. You get in and seldom feel like getting out.
Even in Pomello Yellow the Golf isn’t about making bold statements. It’s still too civilized and well-rounded. This car brings a subtle preparedness to almost all situations, and the joy that comes from that is only between you and this phenomenal little hatchback.
You can build and price a new 2022 Volkswagen Golf 110TSI Life at the Volkswagen Australia website.
Our test vehicle was provided by Volkswagen Australia. To find out more about the 2022 Volkswagen Golf 110TSI Life, contact your local Volkswagen dealer.