Johannesburg - Volkswagen’s facelifted Golf is being launched in South Africa this week and while the visual differences are subtle to say the least, it does bring the hatchback up to date on the gadgets front.

But the best news is that prices have been reduced on all but the GTI, and quite substantially at the bottom of the range where the previous 1.2 TSI turbopetrol makes way for a new import-duty-dodging 1-litre TSI three-cylinder unit, boasting the same 81kW power output but gaining 15Nm of torque, for a maximum of 200Nm from 2000rpm.

The price of the base Trendline derivative falls from R317 600 to R289 900 and now the base engine can also be had in Comfortline trim, at R304 200. Both versions are fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox.

Above that, the 92kW/200kW 1.4 TSI carries over in Comfortline DSG form only, but at R10 000 less (R356 400). The big talking point overseas is a new 1.5 TSI with an ultra-efficient combustion system derived from the Miller cycle, but this won’t reach our shores until next year at the earliest, when it’ll replace the 1.4 TSI.

The latter does at least get a new version of the DSG gearbox, with seven forward gears, but the GTI’s DSG remains a six-speeder (and that’s the only gearbox available, now that the manual has been dropped). The GTI does however gain a small power hike, from 162kW to 169kW, while torque remains at 350Nm, but the price is hiked quite substantially, from R503 100 to R545 800.

But fret not, the GTD coming in July (along with the upgraded 213kW Golf R) and it seriously looks to be the pick of the range, depending on how VWSA prices it. As the name implies, the GTD is really a GTI with a diesel engine. Jesse Adams drove it in Spain earlier this year and was astounded by the torque-rich power delivery. Read his impressions HERE. No other diesel models have been confirmed at this stage.

As mentioned, the exterior alterations are mild and mainly concentrated around the lower bumper, although versions with full LED headlights now have an eyeliner-like shape. New LED taillights are standard though, and feature Audi-style dynamic indicators with a sweeping animation.

Inside the Golf gets the option of VW’s new 31.2cm ‘Active Info Display’ digital instrument cluster, already introduced on the Tiguan and Passat, and priced at R8000.

The Golf comes standard with a Composition Colour eight-speaker audio system, but buyers (from Comfortline upwards) can upgrade to a new Discover Pro infotainment system for R20 000, featuring gesture control and satnav.

There is a long list of driver assistance gadgets available, including Adaptive Cruise Control with Front Assist and Autonomous Emergency Braking System (R5000) and the new Trailer Assist System (R3150). An R-Line body kit is available on Comfortline models for R18 700.

Denis Droppa is attending the South African launch this week, look out for his driving impressions in The Star/Mercury/Cape Times Motoring supplements next Thursday.

PRICES

1.0 TSI Trendline81kW/200NmR289 900
1.0 TSI Comfortline81kW/200NmR304 200
1.4 TSI Comfortline DSG92kW/200NmR356 400
2.0 TSI GTI DSG169kW/350NmR545 800

ALTERNATIVES

Ford Focus 1.0T Trend92kW/170NmR278 900
Opel Astra hatch 1.0T Enjoy77kW/170NmR295 800
Peugeot 308 1.2T Active81kW/205NmR304 900
Renault Megane 1.6 Dynamique84kW/156NmR292 900
Toyota Auris 1.6 Xi97kW/160NmR298 800