THERE'S a new Volkswagen Golf on the block - but you'll need eagle eyes to spot it.
The Mk VII Golf is four-years old so VW has given it a little refresh. Nothing too drastic - just a little nip and tuck - after all, why mess with something so popular; the Golf (if you include the SV crossover variant) was the UK's third best-selling car last year and the best-seller in its hatchback sector with more than 72,600 registrations.
So, there's new bumpers front and rear, new halogen headlights with LED daytime running lights or full LED headlights - standard on performance models, optional for others - instead of xenon headlights; new front wings; and new full LED rear lights as standard. The changes are very, very subtle.
There's also some new technology, including a range-topping 9.2-inch touchscreen - which depending on model can be operated by Jedi mind trick-like gesture control - new wheel designs and body colours. Fresh trim panels and materials also upgrade the interior. All for almost £650 less than the outgoing car.
There's also a new seven-speed version of VW's slick DSG auto gearbox for higher performance models.
The Golf has always been an excellent all-rounder, and this version is no exception. In fact, choosing which version you want may be the hardest thing to do. With 113 versions, you'll be like a child in a sweetshop.
Priced from £17,625 on-the-road, the line-up begins with S, rising through SE, SE Nav, GT, R-Line, hybrid GTE, GTE Advance, all-electric e-Golf, GTD and GTD BlueLine to GTI, GTI Performance and the range-topping R. The estate family also includes the Alltrack off-roader.
The best-sellers in the new range are likely to be the SE Nav spec, which comes with 16-inch alloys, plenty of chrome and leather, remote, electric folding mirrors, puddle lights, adaptive cruise control including Front Assist and city emergency braking system, four driving modes - eco, normal, sport and individual - parking sensors and an eight-inch colour touchscreen to control navigation, entertainment and other functions.
The new entry-level petrol engine - a turbocharged direct-injection 85PS 1.0 TSI with an official fuel consumption of 58.9 mpg - was not available at the UK launch. However, priced from Â£20,120, the SE Nav 1.0-litre TSI 110ps six-speed manual five-door, was. And, it's a rollicking good drive. For many, it will be all they need.
It's well specced, comfortable, refined, high quality and does everything you would want a decent hatchback to do. Like Golfs throughout the years, its handling is exemplary.
With 110ps, it has as much power as the Mk I Golf GTI. It has a top speed of 122mph, accelerates to 62 mph in 9.9 seconds with CO2 emissions of 109g/km. Unless you feel you need more speed, gadgets and up-market touches, it's hard to see further.
Yet, Volkswagen are. They expect the best best-selling Golf model to be the GTD 2.0 TDI 184ps five-door, six-speed manual. At £27,720 on-the-road, it costs over £7,000 more than its sibling.
Is it worth it? In my opinion, yes. For that you get a stonking 380Nm of torque available from only 1,750rpm. Overtaking is a cinch. The GTD accelerates from 0 to 62mph in just 7.5 seconds - though it seems much quicker - and on to a top speed of 144 mph. Yet it officially returns 61.4 mpg with CO2 emissions of just 116g/km.
As you'd expect, it's packed full of wonderfully useful gadgets and safety equipment including VW's Active Info Display, a 12.3-inch high-resolution digital dash display screen, which just adds instant sexiness.
Hit sport mode and stick it through some winding country lanes and you may well wonder why people pay extra for a GTI. It is seriously quick, enormously stable, and handles like a dream.
Should you need a little extra room for luggage or family pets, the best-selling estate is predicted to be the £22,795 SE Nav 1.6 115ps TDI five-speed manual. It produces maximum torque of 250Nm from 1,500rpm, accelerates to 62mph in 10.2 seconds and on to a top speed of 123 mph. Its combined fuel consumption is 68.9 mpg with CO2 emissions of 106g/km.
I drove it with the optional seven-speed DSG gearbox which costs more - £24,390 - but improves fuel economy to 72.4mpg and 102g/km. The good news is, despite the extra space at the back, it drives and handles almost exactly as well as its hatchback siblings.
Choosing your Golf may be as difficult as picking the right iron.