8 things you need to know about the new Mk8 Volkswagen Golf
The Volkswagen Golf is dead, long live the Volkswagen Golf!
Alex has been a road tester and motoring writer for more than 10 years, and has written on new, used and classic cars for What Car?, Autocar, The Daily Telegraph and PistonHeads, among many others.
The Volkswagen Golf is dead, long live the Volkswagen Golf! Yes, it’s that time again – time, that is, for Volkswagen’s most important model to regenerate, Doctor Who style. Except without the radical change of clothes and personality. Erm. So, not Doctor Who style at all, then. Ahem.
Anyway, what can we look forward to about the new Golf? And, more importantly, has it got what it takes to overcome some seriously hot competition in the form of the latest crop of family hatchbacks – cars like the Ford Focus and Honda Civic? To help you work that out, here are the eight most important things you need to know.
1. It still looks like a Golf
Golfs have looked like Golfs ever since Golfs first walked the earth, way back in 1974. Each generation has grown just a little bit, but retained the same intrinsically satisfying proportions, the same chunky C-pillar, and the same sharply truncated tail.
The new model doesn’t break from these norms – surprise, surprise – though that does mean the new Golf is just as subtly handsome as before. But there are a few obvious signs you’re looking at the new Golf, most notably around the front end, where you’ll find slimmer, more aerodynamic light units (which contain LED headlights throughout the range) and the VW signature ‘mono-brow’.
2. But it doesn’t look like a Golf inside...
...at least, not as we know it. For starters, you now get a virtual instrument cluster as standard on every version – indeed, the Golf is the first car in its class to offer this.
But there’s more, because the new Golf’s interior looks nothing like the old one. Gone is the vertical centre stack, and it’s been replaced with a sweeping horizontal architecture that’s dominated by a whopping 10-inch infotainment screen (though lower-spec cars sold in Europe will get a smaller 8.25-inch version as standard).
There’s barely a button in sight, too; most functions that aren’t controlled by the touchscreen are instead operated by touch-sensitive pads. Even the traditional VW rotary headlight switch is no more. All of which might look snazzy, but could be a step backwards, as touch pads are trickier to operate than traditional buttons when you’re driving along.
3. You’ll be able to do lots of things to your Golf with your phone
Get yourself a Golf with ‘We Connect Plus’, and you’ll get a plethora of functions you’ll be able to control remotely via an app on your phone, including the heating and air conditioning, route planning, and even opening the boot to provide somewhere for the postman to stash your parcels while you’re out.
You’ll even be able to lock, unlock and start your Golf with a compatible smartphone. Well, you will if you live in Europe – we won’t get the option of that functionality in the UK at first, though Volkswagen isn’t ruling out introducing it later on if buyers like the idea.
4. You can upgrade your new Golf later, if you like
OK, so Volkswagen isn’t quite doing over-the-air upgrades like Tesla does. But it seems you will be able to take your Golf to a VW dealer to ask them to enable certain functions it didn’t come with from the factory. VW says adaptive cruise control, automatic main-beam control, a wi-fi hotspot and voice control will all be able to be activated retrospectively.
That suggests lower-spec Golfs will come with the hardware to make these functions available; they just won’t be ‘turned on’ – which seems a bit churlish. But on the bright side, if you buy a low-spec used Golf used in a few years’ time, you should be able to upgrade it even if the first owner didn’t.
5. There’ll be five – yes, five – hybrid versions
There was only one before, but you’ll soon have a whopping choice of five hybrid Golfs to pick from. Interestingly, though, not one of them will take the form of a traditional hybrid, like a Prius – instead there’ll be three mild hybrid versions, of 109bhp, 129bhp, and 148bhp, all with 48V systems that won’t actually power the car, but will instead provide a helpful boost to the petrol internal combustion engines. They’ll be badged eTSI, so you’ll be able to tell them apart.
In addition, there’ll now be two plug-in hybrids, both badged ‘eHybrid’. One will be the new GTE, this time packing a considerable 242bhp punch – enough to lift it very much into hot hatch territory. Meanwhile, over on the Continent, the GTE will be joined by a ‘normal’ version which will kick out 201bhp – which, as it happens, is as near as dammit as much as the old GTE produced – but we won’t get that version in the UK.
6. But there won’t be a new e-Golf
Volkswagen has confirmed the e-Golf is for the chop – which should come as no surprise, really, because the ID.3 will be along soon to take its place. That being the case, there’s no space for an all-electric version of the new Golf in the market – so devotees of the old one, few and far between though they may have been, will have to trade up.
7. Diesel is not dead yet
At least, Volkswagen doesn’t believe so – though the diesel range for the new Golf has been scaled back dramatically. There’ll only be two diesel engines available at launch – one kicking out 113bhp, and the other 148bhp. Enough, in other words, to cater for fleet market traditionalists who aren’t quite ready for a hybrid yet. And if you don’t want a diesel or a hybrid, there are two diddy three-cylinder petrol engines, of 89bhp and 109bhp, to choose from too.
8. Every new Golf will be able to talk to other Golfs – and traffic lights
Now, this is quite futuristic. All Golfs will come with Car2X, a wireless communication technology that allows cars and roadside infrastructure – traffic lights, matrix signs, and the like – to communicate with each other.
Right now, that’ll mean very little, as Car2X isn’t widespread, but in the future, it could mean your Golf could communicate with other Golfs – and other cars – up ahead, so that they can tell your car about traffic queues or hazards on the road.
It could also tell a red light to turn green while you’re waiting, if there’s no other traffic around, or download up-to-date information about a bottleneck from a sign as it passes by. Good, eh? Much like the rest of the new Golf, by the sounds of things. We will, of course, bring you a full verdict just as soon as we get to drive it.