The 2017 Volkswagen Golf lineup may just now be arriving on dealer lots here in the United States, but if you're in the market, it might be worth holding out for the updated 2018 models—unless, that is, you really want a radio volume knob.
Disclaimer: What we know so far is for the European market, where the Golf has long been a best-seller and is offered in a dizzyingly wide array of powertrains, models, and trims.
VW has updated the Golf's infotainment setup from a competitive but not exactly class-leading system to an available system that takes full advantage of gesture control. Additionally, certain models will boast a second screen in the instrument cluster in place of conventional analog gauges. While none of this is necessarily new technology, it was heretofore unheard of in the compact car segment.
Although the automaker hasn't detailed just what features will be available on American market Golfs, we do know that there will be several steps.
Base models will utilize a 6.5-inch touchscreen, while upgraded models will make use of a new 8.0-inch screen. But the real attention-grabber is the range-topping system with its 9.2-inch display. In addition to using voice commands, users will be able to hover their hands over and around the screen to activate haptic or conventional virtual buttons. VW has thrown out traditional switches, including even the volume knob on these models.
2018 Volkswagen Golf R
Again, VW hasn't detailed just which variants will be available in the American market, but it has said that a 12.3-inch screen will replace gauges in the Golf's instrument cluster. Five different "information profiles" will plaster the screen with everything from detailed navigation data to images that replicate conventional analog gauges.
Not all the news for the new Golf is in its screens, however. The car's safety feature portfolio will soon include the ability to brake automatically if it senses pedestrians walking into its path.
Under its hood, the 2018 Golf will offer a new 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine rated at 148 horsepower, as well as an available 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. It's not clear if those two will make it to the North American market, but we are fairly confident that power upgrades for the sporty GTI model will be confirmed. The base GTI goes from 210 to 227 horsepower, while the optional Performance Package upgrade sees a boost from 220 to 242 ponies.
Finally, the Golf gets some modest interior and exterior revisions, as well as new alloy wheels.
Look for VW to make more market-specific announcements for its 2018 Golf in the United States over the coming months.