Gadgets Gadgets Gadgets!

11th July 2016

So I thought I'd better describe some of the many gadgets/features/assists on my Volkswagen Golf Mk 7 with initial impressions on how useful I find them and how well they work.

Electronic Handbrake with Auto Hold

Electronic handbrake and Auto Hold switches.

All Mk 7 VW Golfs have this. There is no physical handbrake lever. Instead you have an electronic switch: Lift to apply the handbrake - an LED in the switch lights up to confirm that the handbrake has been applied along with the usual red handbrake warning light on the dash.

Handbrake warning light in dash appears green (rather than red) when activated by Auto Hold.

Below the handbrake switch is a toggle button to turn the Auto Hold feature on and off. When turned on, the car will automatically apply the handbrake when the car comes to a stop. The handbrake symbol on the dash will light up green (rather than red) to indicate that the Auto Hold system will release the handbrake automatically. You can then release the footbrake. When you are ready to set off, just drive off!

When I initially read about this Auto Hold feature I imagined that there would be a bit of a jerk as you initially set off with the handbrake still applied and before the system released it but no. I don't know how it does it but it must release within milliseconds. It's just one less thing you have to do when setting off. Also, it makes setting off whilst the vehicle is on an incline idiot-proof. No need to balance revs with the clutch's biting point - the car always releases the handbrake just at the right time so you don't roll backwards. Great feature.

The only circumstances I have noticed where the Auto Hold feature does not work so well is when you try to slowly creep either forward or back, for example whilst manoeuvring. It's like the Auto Hold system doesn't know whether to release the handbrake or not. It only happened to me a few times until I realised it only happened when I tried to set off (slowly) without applying any throttle at the same time as releasing the clutch. In such situations I now either gently blip the throttle just before releasing the clutch or temporarily turn off the Auto Hold system. I've not had a problem since.

More information from Volkswagen about the Electronic Parking Brake.

Lane Assist

Indicator/High Beam stalk with Lane Assist icon

This feature uses a camera mounted behind the rear view mirror to scan the road ahead and detect the road markings. Unless turned off, you will see an amber warning light on the dash. When travelling faster than approximately 40mph and when road markings are detected, the warning light will change from amber to green. It will then begin making tiny steering adjustments to keep the car in lane. These steering adjustments are very weak and the driver can easily override them. Switching on one of the car's indicators (as reminded by the icon on the indicator stalk) before leaving a lane momentarily prevents any steering interventions.

Whilst I found the feeling of constant micro-adjustments to the steering a little unnerving at first, I quickly felt able to trust the system. It isn't quite as smooth as your typical human driver but I found its little inputs reassuring knowing that something else was trying to keep me in lane. It really is a great safety aid.

It's also clever enough not to try to keep you rigidly in the middle of a lane. Rather it tries to maintain your current position within it. If you choose to keep a little to the left, it will try to keep that position. Very clever.

But don't go thinking this is like having an autopilot. "Assist" is a great description. It is helping you stay in lane. Take your hands off the wheel (even for a couple of seconds) and it will detect this and signal with a loud tone for you to take control.

High Beam Assist

This uses the same camera as used by the Lane Assist mounted behind the rear view mirror, this time to detect the headlights of other vehicles. When you turn on the high beam lights it will automatically switch to dipped headlights if it detects either another car's headlights (or a lighted environment such as when travelling through a village with street lights). Only when it is safe to do so will it switch on the high beams. It works very well.

I was a little nervous about turning the system on at first because I didn't want to risk blinding other drivers. But I can honestly say I would not have switched the high beam's off myself any quicker, even when cars appeared ahead from a long way away.

I look forward to seeing much more at night!

More information from Volkswagen about Dynamic Light Assist & High Beam Assist.


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