Golf bits

The Car    Handbrake    Lights    Wipers    Indicators    Adaptive Cruise Control    Steering Wheel    Mirrors, Windows and Locks    Gear-lever    Infotainment System
Instrument Cluster Menus

After 12 very enjoyable years I take the difficult decision to sell the ZS 180. It's now a classic in its own right, with the increasing care and attention that involves, and whilst I continue to be happy to work on the car parts are getting more difficult to come by - a rebuilt rear caliper needed to pass the MOT had to come from Estonia! - and even something simple like exhaust parts took some tracking down. There would come a day when something essential would nneed replacement and she would be out of action for some time. And as a foul weather car for use when conditions aren't good enough for either Bee or Vee, i.e. predominantly the winter, and she is kept and is worked on outside, that's really not on. So on 27th July 2020 I sell her to someone who proposes to bring her back to close to as-new condition.

As soon as the ZS had passed her MOT and I could start to think about listing her I started seriously looking for a replacment although I had been pondering it for a while. I'd like a Jag XE, but at 71 out of 100 for reliability in one review I was wary of taking the risk. Reliability being key it had to be something German or Japanese, and I simply can't countenance anything of the latter for historical reasons. I know I had a Celica for a while but that was 'inherited' from our son so didn't count. Can't stand Audi or BMW which leaves Mercedes and VW. I hired a Golf many years ago and was very impressed with the ride quality as much as anything else, didn't want to go mad with engine spec, and diesel was out, so a 1.4 TSI was pencilled in, although Golf styling is pretty bland especially compared to some offerings these days. Mercedes wouldn't normally have been in the running as for many years they were either large and outrageous or large and dull, but I started noticing the A-Class around and about as having more interesting styling and a reasonable size, although the front grilles have been getting more 'in yer face' year by year. Found a Golf at Stratford on Avon and hopefully an A-Class in Solihull to look at on successive days.

First sight (you know what they looks like) of the Golf I was very impressed - Limestone Grey which has a hint of brown in silver-grey, better than plain silver or grey and I wasn't keen on any other colour. Even more impressed inside with all the main controls very well laid out - lighting switch with instrument dimming to the right of the steering wheel, the usual column stalks, steering wheel with horn push positioned much more conveniently than the ZS, and heater controls in the centre. Manual air-con i.e. no climate control like the ZS (when it worked) but I can live with that. It does have individually heated front seats although with cloth and not leather there won't be much call for it. The sort of layout that you could get in and drive off immediately - with the exception of the electric handbrake. However even that was just a matter of lifting up a flap to apply, and pressing it down to release, so not that different from a conventional lever ... or so I thought. 3 1/2 years old with average mileage and very good condition inside and out. Test drive started off finding the position of the steering wheel didn't suit, but soon found the up and down adjustment. Still not ideal but then found the fore and aft adjustment as well, which together with seat base and backrest adjustments got me perfectly comfortable. Navigator complained during the first decent run until I discovered her lumbar support full on and mine off, and with hers off she was happy. Some people must have strange backs, we've never had a problem in umpteen cars but I know others have to use different seats and modify then, or spend tens of k on a modern and have to stand up and walk around for a while after a longish drive. Pedal positions good. Picks up well, no sign of any accident damage in boot or bonnet, we get a good impression from JMC Stratford, and we are quite tempted. It's the first and only car we have looked at, but when you find something that seems to suit in every respect, and it's not like there is a shelf-full of identical items, what can you do? So we bought it there and then. Maybe an A-Class next time.

Got a good deal from Footman James with their Flex policy that will cover all three cars whereas they wouldn't include the ZS previously. 30 per year Road Tax - a bit of a change from the 325 of the ZS!, and pick it up a couple of days later. One of the first things I noticed is that unlike the ZS where the fuel gauge continued to register with the ignition off, this one drops to zero. But as it rises very quickly with the ignition on, unlike the MGBs, it's no hardship. The following week we have a few days planned in the Lake District, which would normally be a good opportunity to try it out and find any niggles, but as usual Vee gets the job and the Golf will just have to wait. One almost immediate drawback is that being relatively anonymous I have to remember exactly where I parked it, unlike any of the MGs.

500 pages in the main drivers handbook and almost another 80 for the Infotainment centre takes some wading through, so I opt to dip in as and when I need to find something out. One of the problems is that the books cover all possible options on that particular version of the Golf 7, so first you have to work out whether your car has that option before you can find out how to use it! Also there are so many different variants beyond what is in the manual that Googling even 'Golf 7 (function name)' can come up with things that simply don't apply. Sometimes despite the size of the manual you still can't work something out, one example was to do with shuffle mode and music files - I could see the screen and the option to select ... but there was no clue as to how one got to that screen! Another concerned the USB port, and is best summed-up by one person posting on a Golf 7 forum "OK, I give up, where is the USB port?" (in the cubby under the heater controls). Yet another concerned the sat nav SD card, lots of info on how to update it, but it didn't tell where it is (in the glovebox). One amusing feature is before almost every subject the statement "(subject name) cannot overcome the laws of physics" i.e. "if you prang it don't blame us".

The electronic handbrake took some getting used to. I'd heard from others that these allow the car to roll back when trying to pull away on an incline, and it did. The problem is that as soon as you start lifting the clutch the handbrake comes off, but until you lift the pedal further to the biting point the car rolls if on a slope. I discover that if you hold the lever up it keeps the handbrake applied until you release it so much like a manual handbrake (a bit like a fly-off in fact) and OK as far as it goes, but being so small and having to get a couple of fingers under it just doesn't come to hand as easily and has to be conciously thought about, unlike a manual handbrake which is big enough to grab hold of without thinking about it. It's not helped by the handbrake coming on automatically - which is fine in itself, but removes half of the occasions you use it so doubling the familiarity time. I dare say I would get used to it but I don't like having to focus on something inside the car just as I'm about to pull away. Immediately aft of the handbrake switch is an Auto Hold button, which can be used in conjunction with the handbrake switch, and it wasn't immediately clear what that is for and exactly how it is to be used. After puzzling through the book, and reading and watching on-line info (of limited help), and experimenting, I discover that if you switch Auto Hold on, you don't have to touch either of them again - except perhaps on a very steep hill and we don't have any of those round here. When you come to a halt including with Stop/Start the handbrake comes on, and as you start to drive off it goes off. Where Auto Hold comes in is that it seems to prevent the roll-back between starting to lift the clutch pedal and reaching the biting point. And since then I haven't touched either control. But subsequently trying various things on a hill I discovered it would still roll as you lift the clutch pedal ... unless you apply the footbrake when starting the car, or before attempting to drive off. It looks like Auto Hold then keeps the footbrake applied after the handbrake has come off, until the clutch has starts to bite, and you can pull away without rolling back (at least), and it begs the question why isn't the handbrake like this anyway? If you turn off the ignition with Auto Hold in effect you can hear the handbrake come on then Auto Hold goes off, with a little jolt. It does the same if opening a door with the engine running, and there are other occasions where the handbrake and Auto Hold interact ... best not to think about them and hope VW have done a good job on the software logic.

As 'driver aids' have proliferated I was of the opinion that motor manufacturers were desperate to come up with a USP (although they were all adopting them), and nannying people so they took less and less interest in actually controlling their car, reducing driver attention in the process, and I wouldn't use them as I'll be the judge of when to turn things on and off. Even VWs own video on adaptive cruise control states it "... helps busy drivers maintain distance and speed automatically." Busy drivers? Surely maintaining a safe speed and distance is the driver's primary role! But I find myself using them, and see no reason to turn Stop/Start off for use in traffic ... although one day when using the Sat Nav it wasn't doing its stuff until I stopped navigating. As for the rest it has occured to me that insurance companies might take a dim view in the event of a claim if they have found them to be turned off.

I'm even leaving the lighting switch in the 'automatic' position! Rear fogs available pulling the control out one click, adding front fogs with a second click. Headlight 'range control' on the left to set the beam range according to the load being carried. Some cars have the instrument lighting level control here, but with headlamp range control here instrument illumination can be set through the Infotainment system. Almost everything has detailed settings controlled via the Infotainment system as well as their primary controls, and a lot more besides, but my personal view is that such adjustments when underway are very distraction and potentially dangerous.

The automatic wipers were excellent in varying and torrential rain on the first decent trip. I've not found them coming on from being completely off yet, before I feel I need to clear the screen, but once positioned to the 'slowest' intermittent position they are then completely automatic, increasing the frequency of the sweeps in light rain, automatically increasing and reducing the frequency and speed as needed. I need to check, but leaving them in the 'slowest' position may keep them off until some rain is detected. The usual flick, off, intermittent, slow and fast settings using the stalk up and down, a slider button on the top to set the intermittent rate, pull the stalk for momentary front wash/wipe, push one position for rear wipe, a second push momentarily for rear wash/wipe.

The indicator/main/dip/flash stalk is pretty-well bog-standard with the addition of a parking light function. By leaving the indicator stalk switched to the left or the right the parking lights will remain illuminated that side when you leave the car. Not so new, I remember a boss having a new Cortina in the 1970s where he complained that the ammeter showed a discharge while it was parked ... until the dealer pointed out just this feature! If the light switch is left in the parking light position then both sides will be illuminated when you leave the car, but there is a safety feature in that they will be switched off automatically to prevent the battery becoming discharged ... as long as there is enough power in the battery to keep them on for more than 2 hours in the first place. The automatic switch off can occur up to 16 hours if both sides are left on, or up to 32 hours if one side is left on.

The Adaptive Cruise Control is a bit complicated with seven buttons with differing functions on different models but once sussed out works well - better than basic cruise control which is also discussed and may be an alternative lower spec. It seems to need to think about it if someone pulls into your lane when they shouldn't and I've had to brake. There is an 'O/I' (on/off) button, a 'MODE' button that switches between ACC and speed limiter, a SET button to engage ACC once you have reached the speed you want to maintain, '+' and '-' buttons to increase or decrease the set speed in 5mph increments, and an RES button to resume the previously set speed e.g. after applying the brakes. That adds up to six, the seventh being between the two increment/decrement buttons. On mine this shows a logo of a car with some dashed lines under it and is the 'distance' setting for when ACC slows the vehicle in response to vehicles in front - Front Assist. Five settings from 'Very Small to 'Very Large' set by the use of the '+' and '-' buttons immediately after using the 'distance' button, but I don't know yet whether it applies to all driving or just ACC. Hence why I say it's a bit complicated. I have wondered if ACC applies the brakes when slowing you down, and whether that is the cause of so many cars where the brake lights keep coming on in what is largely steadily flowing traffic ... or whether it's just crap drivers. So many people these days seem to jump straight from a cruising throttle to the brake when they are approaching a stop or a give way, instead of lifting off in advance and only braking at the end. But then I'm sure there are people who would say braking early gives advance warning to following drivers - gawd help us. Audio system volume buttons are under the ACC buttons.

It doesn't seem to have Lane Assist as even when using ACC there were no steering effects when I changed lanes without indicating.

There is a lot of data available via the Instrument Cluster Menus in front of the driver largely controlled by nine buttons on the right-hand spoke of the steering wheel, two of which replicate functions on the Infotainment panel - top left Phone, bottom left Voice. In the centre are 'left-arrow', 'OK' and 'right-arrow' buttons to display various menus in the driver's display panel (below), the up and down arrows navigating up and down in each menu list, with 'OK' (or a delay in doing anything else) selecting an option - a bit safer than fiddling with the Infotainment buttons and display.

All the main manual says about the lower 'left' and 'right' buttons is the cryptic 'audio, nav' and I can't find them in the Infotainment manual. One thing I discovered they do is to move on or back a track when playing music files, even when the Sat Nav is in navigation mode.

Radio/media
Phone
Navigation
Assist
Car warnings
Driving data

Current speed
Instantaneous fuel
consumption
Oil temperature
Range
Speed warning

And the following can be displayed over one of four time periods:

Distance travelled
Travelling time
Average speed
Average fuel
consumption

For example by repeatedly pressing the OK button fuel consumption can be displayed as:

Since start
Since refuel
Long term
'Since Start' is the current journey, or if the ignition has been turned on but the engine not started then it displays the previous journey.
'Long Term' continually increments up to 20 hours or 1,999 (9,999?) km then resets to zero.

The air-con is clear and easy to use with three rotary controls for temperature, fan speed and direction which is better than the ZS which was all buttons which needed multiple presses for temperature and fan speed. Buttons for individually heated seats (multiple presses on those for the level), HRW, recirculation or fresh-air, and 'A/C' and 'OFF'. From what I can tell so far the chiller comes on if you turn the heat control down, so maybe the 'A/C' button can be used to turn it off to save energy. Where I have the 'OFF' button the manual shows one with a different logo which is for the auxiliary heater which is a separate heating system driven from the fuel supply directly, e.g. for pre-heating the interior. Without that I don't know what the 'OFF' button does that isn't already controlled by the fan and A/C controls, it's not mentioned in the manual that I have found so far.

Door mirror and central locking controls by the driver's door handle. As well as being able to position the mirrors by turning the rotary control and moving it up, down and sideways like a joystick, there is a heating function available lower right, and a position at the lower left that manually tucks the mirrors in when squeezing through a narrow gap. A Infotainment setting to synchronise both mirrors - I suppose if someone has moved them is saves the second lot of adjustment if you are already underway. Another setting dips the passenger mirror to look at the curb when reversing, and the position is stored with the key so two people using two keys can have different settings. Automatic locking of the doors when underway, but unlike the ZS being in the centre console where the passenger could unlock them if being dropped off, the Golf buttons are at the front of the driver's armrest so the driver has to do it.

All four windows are electric unlike the manual rears on the ZS, with a lock for the rears. The first position for stop-start down or up and a second position for 'all the way' or until the button is moved again. 'Convenience' closing in that when locking the car holding the lock button down will close any open windows.

Six buttons round the six-speed gear lever, but only three functions available here. 'MODE' selects the driving Profile between Comfort, Normal, Sport and Eco. I had a go switching between Normal and Sport but didn't notice any difference, so leave it in Sport. That's a relative term, while it picks up well initially it seems to run out of grunt quite quickly, a bit like a diesel, and the reverse of what I'd expect for a turbo in that there is no turbo-lag that I'm aware of.

Below that the button for Start/Stop which so far I always leave engaged. If in heavy traffic eventually the function wil be disabled to avoid flattening the battery, and maybe overheating the starter although so far it seems it has to barely crank past one firing stroke before it catches, and may even disconnect the starter at that point.

Bottom right is for Park Pilot which gives audible and graphical indications of obstructions when manouvering. This manually turns it on and off, but it also comes on automatically when selecting reverse or when close to an obstacle, I haven't yet looked into how the manual switch overrides that.

The Infotainment system and nearly 100 pages in its own right (or 'write', as John Lennon said)!

Radio    Media    Phone    Voice    Nav    Traffic    Car    Menu   

Bottom left is a simple rotary and push control for volume and turning the display off, bottom right ditto for scrolling through the menus and selecting options. The strip below the display screen is a proximity sensor that brings up relevant function buttons at the bottom of the screen when your hand is brought near.

'RADIO' - self-explanatory.
'MEDIA' - relates to sound files on CD, SD cards and USB sticks. With umpteen different ways of playing tracks when they are in files and folders it took some time in the manual and online working out how to set up the 'randomise' function to pick from the whole list.
'PHONE' - wasn't sure I'd bother with it but a read of the manual, and confirming my ageing Nokia Windows phone had bluetooth, it was worth a go. Self-explanatory how to search for your phone, and with the phone bluetooth section open and following the on-screen prompts, got them connected easily. Phoning in and out using the 'phone' button on the right of the steering wheel was fine. Couldn't see the SMS menu option to send a text from the car, and when one was received the phone's Cortana came on over the car's audio system asking if I wanted to read it, but couldn't see how to confirm - voice command? As far as sending a text goes it looks like the car will only display that option if the phone bluetooth has Message Access Profile capability.
'VOICE' - selecting Infotainment button or steering wheel button tells ne to get some kind of key from my dealer, so presumably not available.
'NAV' - sat-nav is quite good, although I cannot understand why cars do not have full the post-code function when a little thing like a mobile phone does, especially when you can program in the full address. My sat-nav version seems to be original to the car, and I eventually found out how to get a later version. But whilst the downloaded files have a later date the in-car system still displays the same version, although trying it on a local junction that had changed from a roundabout to a crossroads the corret instructions are given. It was amusing when driving on a new bypass to see the screen show me ploughing across a field nd making my own road. You can get updates from VW as here.
'TRAFFIC' - allied to sat-nav and radio, not looked at that yet.
'CAR' - allows you to control a number of settings, one of them being able to display 'race' information such as instantaneous inlet manifold pressure, horsepower and G-forces, and the ability to record lap times - I ask you!
'MENU' - probably gives access to everything and deeper functions of some that exist elsewhere.