Volkswagen has lifted the wraps from its eighth generation Golf. No; really. These are pix of the NEW VW Golf Mk8. Okay, you’ve got to look really, really hard to spot the differences — at least externally — from the Mk7.5, but this is the car which was unveiled at VW’s Wolfsburg headquarters.
But while even VW bosses, including design boss, Klaus Bischoff, admit the exterior styling is little more than an evolution of the last car — which, to be honest, is no bad thing — it’s under the bonnet, and inside the cabin where the biggest, most important changes, including the introduction of mild-hybrid technology, have been made.
First though, let’s examine the outside of the latest Golf; the model which, since the launch of the Mk1 in 1974, has sold more than 35 million units. The most noticeable styling change is at the front, where a slimmer grille and new narrow headlights — featuring standard LED tech — give a family nod to the recently launched all-electric ID.3. Note, specifically, the new strip running from the lights to the VW roundel.
And while the rear-end gets a new raised rear bumper, plus the Golf name being written out beneath the VW logo, the designers have also tweaked the side profile focussing on the more contoured C-pillar. All the external changes are subtle, but that’s one of the principal ingredients in the Golf being a Golf.
So, where are the biggest changes?
Without question though, Bischoff and his team have saved the biggest improvements for the inside. The new cabin is the perfect combination of minimalism and contemporary, and pushes the styling in the highly-competitive’family car’ class. These are cutting edge looks.
A pair of screens dominate the cabin. The 10-inch infotainment system, as you might expect, features a customisable display which allows the driver to position shortcuts and widgets in the desired positions. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are both standard, with the latter now operable wirelessly. This touchscreen is paired with a standard 10.25-inch digital cockpit display and an optional windscreen head-up display.
Thankfully, the controls for both the climate and infotainment volume have been integrated into a ‘slider’ located underneath the touchscreen. The optional sunroof is operated by a similar system which is mounted into the roof console.
Any other interesting technology?
But the technology in the latest version of VW’s MIB3 infotainment system also extends to voice control. Oh yes. Drivers of the new Golf Mk8 can call on Amazon Alexa — which is permanently connected to the internet via an eSIM, enabling online music streaming, traffic information and shopping — for advice.
To further streamline the new Golf’s interior looks, the upper portion of the dashboard has been designed to appear as if it sits on a ‘table’. And neatly tucked below an indented line sit the air vents. The designers have also reworked the remaining physical controls, bundling them together in a higher position closer to the steering wheel and instruments on the dashboard. This approach ensures the cabin is not only has much cleaner design lines, but also creates a more spacious feel.
Sitting 4284mm long, 1789mm wide and 1456mm high, with a wheelbase of 2636mm, the new Golf is almost identical in size to the old car. Interior dimensions are therefore similar to the outgoing model too, so any additional feeling of space is essentially down to clever design packaging.
Has VW added mild-hybrid tech to the range?
Oh yes. The headline-grabber is the fact the Mk8 gets a mild-hybrid system, combined with a seven-speed auto gearbox. The 48-volt electrical system recovers energy which would otherwise be wasted when slowing down, and then redeploys up to 16bhp and 18lb/ft of electric boost under acceleration. VW claims this will make moving away from standstill much smoother.
The mild-hybrid tech is available with both versions — 128bhp and 148bhp — of the 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol, plus the 109bhp version of a 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo. In the entry-level 89bhp 1.0 TSI, and models with a manual gearbox, there’s no mild-hybrid tech. However, VW says its new six-speed unit will help reduce emissions.
There are also two diesels available, delivering a choice of 113bhp or 148bhp from the 2.0-litre engine. Both can be mated to either manual or auto ‘boxes, and claim to produce 17 per cent less CO2 than before. Nitrogen oxide emissions have been slashed by 80 per cent due to the introduction of a new AdBlue delivery system.
Will there be an all-electric Golf?
There will be no all-electric Golf in the range — that’s the remit of the new ID.3 model — but there will be a GTE plug-in hybrid. From launch, this will be the hottest Golf in the range. Power comes from a 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine with an electric motor delivering a combined 241bhp. Energy is stored in a 13kWh battery, providing 50 per cent more capacity than the outgoing GTE.
Specification and price
The Golf Mk8 — which will again retain S, SE, SEL and R-Line trim levels — is due on sale in the UK early next year, with entry-level price expected to duck below the £20,000 mark, despite the increase in new standard tech.
And what about the GTI and Golf R?
Later in 2020, the range will be further boosted by the introduction of the GTI and GTD models. The GTI will use an upgraded version of the 241bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged engine from the previous model. But we’ll have to wait till 2021 before we get our hands on the R version, and range-topping 400bhp R Plus.