Lockdown meant that CC&V didn’t get a chance to drive Volkswagens eighth generation Golf until September. As a once proud owner of a Golf Mk2 GTI in Mars Red and with my wife’s current VW T-Roc & kids VW Polo on our drive, it’s safe to say that we are generally a pro-Volkswagen family & I was really looking forward to driving the latest Golf
The new model is offered with three trim levels; Life, Style and R-Line & with GTI, GTD & GTE versions. The line-up consists of a 1.0-litre 110PS three-cylinder petrol engine & two 1.5-litre TSI petrol engines with 130 & 150 PS, mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox. Diesel options include 115 or 150 PS 2.0-litre units, the former with a 6-speed manual, the latter with a 7-speed DSG transmission, which is only offered in Style trim. In addition, there’s an eTSI 48V mild-hybrid 1.0-litre and 1.5-litre petrol engines, fitted with the 7-speed DSG transmission.
All new Golfs feature cutting-edge Car2X technology. This facilitates wireless communication between the new Golf and other Car2X-equipped vehicles on the road, as well as so-called ‘street furniture’, allowing the car to more effectively pre-empt hazards on the road such as stationary traffic ahead, approaching emergency vehicles and more. This is the most important mainstream car to have Car2X fitted as standard to date.
Life is predicted to be the most popular trim for the new Golf in the UK. Prices start from £23,300 for the 1.0 version, All Life models are generously equipped, coming as they do with 16″ ‘Norfolk’ alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers, front and rear parking sensors, electrically heated and adjustable door mirrors with memory feature, and keyless start.
The Golf Life also features Volkswagen’s Innovision Cockpit, which incorporates a 10.25″ Active Info Display in the car’s instrument binnacle, as well as a large and clear 10″ Discover Navigation touch-screen infotainment system. For the 2020 model year all Golfs will be equipped with Discover Pro Navigation. This comes complete with DAB and FM radio, as well as USB and Bluetooth connectivity with Wireless App-Connect. It also includes a three-year subscription to We Connect Plus, unlocking a wealth of information and services ranging from media streaming to parking space information, and an in-car Wi-Fi hotspot. Further convenience is added with a wireless charging function for compatible smartphones, while natural voice control allows the driver to activate many of the car’s features without raising a finger, all while using less formal language and delivery than in previous such systems.
The Golf Life is also packed with driver assistance systems. These include Adaptive Cruise Control, a Driver Alert System, Dynamic Road Sign Display, Lane and Front Assist, with extended pedestrian protection measures also installed on the model. An XDS electronic differential lock now features on the new Golf, providing improved traction and handling.
Customers opting for Style which costs from £25,495, will see improved specification, with 17″ ‘Belmont’ alloy wheels, LED ‘Plus’ headlights, sports comfort seats, ambient lighting, 3Zone climate control and ‘Luxury Brown Wood’ decorative inserts.
The R-Line trim starts at £26,165 and includes VW’s Innovision digital cockpit as standard, wireless smartphone charging, mirroring, front sport seats with ‘Sardegna’ cloth trim, rear LED lights & 30-colour ambient interior lighting.
Although VW rarely alter the Golfs looks by much, the new model does feature a lower nose, slim LED headlights, narrow rear tail-light clusters, with the redesigned VW badge above the Golf lettering. The new model is also 26mm longer than before, but 36mm lower, which gives it a sportier stance.
It’s inside where things have noticeably changed, with the addition of new technology & a premium feel. Volkswagen have decided to ‘clean’ the dashboard up, so there’s very few physical buttons, with almost everything controlled by a central infotainment touchscreen display and a digital dial cluster. The Active Info display which sits in front of the driver is standard across the range, which is a first for the family hatchback class. Connectivity includes Amazon Alexa voice assistance, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto & online radio.
Whilst VW are still offering fleet customers a diesel version of the Golf, we decided to test one of the petrol 1.5’s.
Our actual test car was a Golf Life 1.5 TSI 130 PS 6-speed manual, which comes with a BIK of 27%. Climb aboard & the first thing you’ll notice is the up-market cabin.Having driven the latest SKODA Octavia just two weeks prior to the Golf, it was clear to see that the VW is finished to a higher quality than the SKODA. The dashboard feel’s solid in a mixture of soft touch black & silver plastic, with even the glove box & door pockets, two places where it’s traditional to cut corners, feeling top notch.
The seats are comfortable & supportive & up front, passengers get decent head & legroom. There are two USB’s in the front & two in the rear, but you’ll need adaptor’s as they are C-connection versions.
Much has been talked about the new controls & the infotainment within the car, but I found it relatively straightforward to use. Perhaps a week spent in the Octavia had helped, because the lack of any buttons could be a little daunting.
To be fair to VW, there are some buttons. On the right of the steering wheel, you’ll find the lights & in the centre dash, located between two air-vents, are short-cut buttons labelled, ASSIST, CLIMA & MENU. This allows you whilst on the move for example, to select CLIMA, & access the climate control functions on the touchscreen, which are easily adjusted. Furthermore, there are slim temperature controls neatly located under the touchscreen, so you can bypass the screen altogether, a sensible inclusion.
The landscape screen is where you’ll learn to access most of the vehicles functions. Here you can get into the SatNav, DAB radio, Bluetooth & connected Apps. It doesn’t take long to get the hang of these either. Apple CarPlay connection was seamless & handsfree phone calls straightforward. On the steering wheel there are switches & buttons including the adaptive cruise control & those for accessing the 10.25″ Active Info Display, where you can check on your mileage, speed, fuel economy & car functions.
Our week in the Golf included a 200 mile round trip to Coventry, where it performed admirably on the motorway, with the car returning an average of 61.1mpg at motorway speeds. It’s a quiet, comfortable cabin to be in, well insulated against road & wind noise.
Utilising the cruise control, takes the hassle out of long journeys & the cabin features some good storage for drinks, keys, iPhone, sunglasses & the like. The 1.5 litre engine’s also comes with some decent overtaking power, with 62mph reached in 9.2 seconds & a top speed of 133 mph.
For the remainder of the week, we drove the Golf locally on urban roads & that happy feeling it gave off on the motorway, continued. The 6-speed gearbox is smooth & the shortish change means that you can happily drive in fifth gear at 30mph. The engine StopStart was also very good.
Slower, town driving did affect our fuel economy, as we saw it drop to 50.7mpg. Volkswagen claim a High MPG of 61.5 & a Combined of 52.6, so it would seem that our figure’s pretty much matched the claimed, which is always good.
With CO2 emissions of 122g/km further adding to the appeal, I think I may, just as EV’s take over, have finally been won over by a petrol Golf ! Better late than never .
An Augusta- St Andrews 4.5 /5