It's enough to make us want to learn German. The new VW Golf 7 launched in Berlin early last month with a slew of innovative new tech features, including lane keeping and emergency urban braking.
The remarkable news is not that the new Golf is so tech-laden, but that these high-end features are typically found on luxury vehicles intended for lawyers and celebrities. Here are the top ten.
Normally found in a Lexus or Infiniti, the lane-keeping features in the Golf 7 are quite advanced. In some vehicles, a lane alert chimes to tell you to pay attention. In the Golf, the vehicle causes a slight buzz on the steering wheel and nudges you slightly back into the lane. The improvement here is that the lane departure system works continuously, not just when it detects a problem.
2. Direct Steering
If you compare an older Golf to the newer models, you will notice one major difference: the steering in a newer model is much tighter and responsive. That's what makes the Golf fun to drive, like a more accurate controller for a video game. The Golf 7 adds a new feature using a progressive gear ratio that makes steering even more responsive. You feel as though the car is more in your control.
3. Fatigue Detection
Even a Mercedes-Benz from a few years ago had a system that monitored your steering angle, speed, and how long you've been on the road. The new Golf 7 now has this feature as well, which is surprising for a small car. When you first start driving, the Golf monitors how you drive, noting your usual patterns. (For example, that you correct within a split-second.) As you drive, the Golf knows if you change your patterns and warns you to take a break. The system debut in the re-designed Passat.
4. Adaptive cruise control
Many mid-range to high-end cars offer adaptive cruise control (ACC), a system that controls your speed based on the car in front of you. Some only do this at highways speeds, some will adjust your speed in urban areas. The Golf 7 does both – from 30 to 150 kmh and even down to a full stop. Ask anyone who has ACC and you'll find out how beneficial it is – it can be a real life-saver.
5. Multicollision braking
One of the most innovative features has to do with post-crash braking. Many luxury cars will brake automatically if the forward warning system detects an imminent crash. Some will bring you to a full stop. The Golf 7 has a unique system that will do pre-crash braking but will also keep braking if you do collide. (Studies show many serious injuries occur after an initial impact.)
6. 64GB SSD
In the upper trim level, the Golf 7 comes with a massive 64GB SSD drive that is ostensibly designed to house nav data and other information for the vehicle, but the drive can access about 10GB. The 8-inch touchscreen allows you to control this media with the flip of your finger.
7. Built-in WiFi
Yet another unique feature for a small car, the upper trim levels (those that comes with the 9-inch touchscreen, called Discover Pro) offer a mobile hotspot feature. This is a bit different from some – the car itself has carrier service for some of the nav systems, so you can enable a hotspot and then allow passengers (or the driver while stopped) to tap into the signal with a tablet or phone.
8. Emergency braking
Many cars have a pre-crash system that slams on the brakes and deploys the airbags. In the Golf 7, there's a subtle variation. In slow speeds below 30 kph, the Golf can apply brakes in three stages, which are essentially: light braking if a crash is not imminent, medium braking, and full-stop.
9. Light assist
This feature might seem unusual to those who normally drive budget-model cars. As you drive at night, the high-beams will automatically activate and deactivate. There's a forward-facing camera that detects oncoming traffic. When there are no cars, the high-beams turn on for you.
10. Lighter construction
Even though it is not a tech feature, the steel construction of the new Golf is a win for fuel economy (a rating we won't know until the car hits the road) and durability. VW says they reduced the overall weight by 23 kg to make the Golf, yet the high-grade construction is just as safe.