It is astonishing to think that one of the biggest automotive companies in the world could get enmeshed in a tawdry, shameful game of deceit in the pursuit of market share and profit, and believe it would not be caught.
Yet that is exactly what happened when Volkswagen realised that a newly developed range of diesel engines was not capable of meeting stringent American CO2 and NOx emission levels.
It developed technology to fool testers into thinking the company’s cars were clean.
Why would a company indulge in such shoddy under-handedness, when it has such gems as the Polo, Golf, and Passat in its model range, cars that are gold-plated, in terms of their sales potential and reach?
With sales of 30m worldwide since it was launched in 1974, the Golf has been the unquestioned champion of all-things-to-all-people motoring and a shining, unparalleled example of automotive classlessness.
It is a vivid beacon of the “peoples’ car” ethos which gave the company its name.
The latest iteration of the Golf — the seventh generation, but recently revamped into what Volkswagen call ‘version 7.5’ — is more sophisticated than ever before.
VW still has to sell cars and the Golf will be one of the main vehicles to allow it do so.
The latest comes to the market ahead of the new Mark 8 version, which is expected within the next eighteen months or so.
There have only been minor tweaks to the look of the car, what with a mild front-end rethink and the addition of front and rear LED lighting options, as well as the adoption of ‘flowing’ animated indicators, which actually look really cool.
There have been major improvements to the interior, the infotainment systems, and the décor, and Volkswagen has also introduced a new, 1.5-litre, TSi petrol engine, which will come in two guises — 125 and 150 bhp — but which we in Ireland are still waiting to see.
That being so, we tried what we were told was a ‘Highline’ version, but the car I had was bedecked with R-Line badges, which is a different spec altogether.
It was also fitted with the older TSi engine, the 150 bhp, 1.4 twin turbo version, which we have lauded on many occasions in these columns.
I referred earlier to the added sophistication and that is highlighted by the inclusion of a VW take on the Audi ‘virtual cockpit’ dashboard, with its hugely impressive graphics and navigation systems.
Nicer trim packages add to the feeling that the company has upped the ante by comparison with the Golf’s main rivals.
The car rides and handles like we know a Golf should and, as there has been no tricking around with overall dimensions and capacities, it remains the practical animal we all know and love.
I loved this car and loved every minute of my time with it. I loved the look of it and I loved the way it drove. I loved the way the interior was designed and I loved all the infotainment and connectivity (not to mention their ease of use).
I loved every bit of it.
However, I came away from the Golf 7.5 with a great sadness hanging over me. I have little sympathy for Volkswagen, but I have a lot of sympathy for the company’s many loyal and committed supporters.
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