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Cars Volkswagen Golf hatchback

19:30  04 december  2019
19:30  04 december  2019 Source:   carbuyer.co.uk

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Think outside the box with the innovative Volkswagen Golf . With a turbocharged engine and sleek design, the Golf is truly a modern hatchback .

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This is the eighth-generation Volkswagen Golf, the latest version of the family hatchback that's now racked up more than 35 million sales worldwide since it was first launched.

Little surprise then that designers have again refrained from breaking the mould when it comes to styling, instead updating the existing approach. Most noticeably, the Golf's nose now looks somewhat lower and sleeker, helped by slim LED headlights and an unfussy lower grille that does away with separate fog lights in favour of a wide opening. There are new VW badges and 'Golf' lettering now sits on a sharper boot, flanked by intricately designed light clusters.

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With precision craftsmanship and a 228-hp turbocharged engine, there’s no wonder why the 2020 Golf GTI is referred to as the Golf “hot” hatch .

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A pie chart for the design budget would reveal that the most money has been spent inside, where the Golf embraces the digital age wholesale. Like the trend-setting Mercedes A-Class, the Golf's instruments and infotainment are now taken care of by two screens sitting side-by-side. Buttons have largely been consigned to history, but you can say "Hello Volkswagen" instead to use voice commands for a variety of actions. Overall, the interior is more attractive and interesting than before, even if there have been a few unexpected cuts in quality - the plastic trim spanning the dash looks a bit cheap, for example.

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The UK will adopt the European names for trim levels, simply starting with Golf, while 'Life' and 'Style' replace the 'SE' and 'SE L' names used for trim levels of the seventh-gen model. Expect LED headlights as standard, along with automatic air-conditioning, while Life and Style add bigger alloy wheels and luxuries such as climate control. R-Line will keep its name and provide a sporty look and feel inside and out.

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The 2015 Volkswagen Golf hatchback is available as a two- or four-door hatchback in four major trim levels (the all-electric e- Golf is a similar model, but reviewed separately).

The Volkswagen Golf is a four-door small hatchback available in two trim levels. The base S is pricier than other base compact cars but comes standard with some nice upgraded features

New bodywork makes the Golf slightly longer, but its interior dimensions are almost identical, so there's plenty of room to accommodate four adults and a 380-litre boot. This is about average for a hatchback, but models like the Honda Civic and Skoda Octavia offer more space if you need it.

Volkswagen has targeted efficiency gains with its engine line-up, and there's plenty of powertrains on offer. A 1.0-litre petrol is most affordable, followed by a larger 1.5-litre TSI with 148bhp, and a number of petrols get eTSI mild-hybrid technology as standard when a seven-speed DSG automatic is chosen. This tech uses a 48-volt starter generator and battery to offer engine-off coasting and a small performance boost, improving overall efficiency.

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The Volkswagen Golf Mk7 (also known as the Golf VII) is a compact car, the seventh generation of the Volkswagen Golf and the successor to the Volkswagen Golf Mk6.

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High-mileage drivers are catered for by a single 2.0-litre TDI diesel with 113 or 148bhp. It’s a newly developed engine that features improved emissions-reducing technology to help cut NOx emissions by almost 20%. Alternatively, there'll be two plug-in hybrids; a 201bhp version and a sporty model with 242bhp known as the Golf GTE. As well as being quick, these will have an electric range of up to 37 miles, making them highly appealing for business buyers. That's especially the case now the Volkswagen e-Golf has been superseded by the all-electric ID.3.

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On the move, the Volkswagen Golf feels slightly more agile than before but maintains the tried-and-tested recipe of being both comfortable and rewarding to drive. You can feel the extra boost of the eTSI system at low revs, but the 2.0-litre TDI with 148bhp is arguably even smoother and refinement impresses across the board, rivalling the Mazda3 or BMW 1 Series. We've only driven Golf's fitted with Dynamic Chassis Control so far, adjusting the way the car feels and suspension in its various driving modes, and the result is a highly polished driving experience.

4 / 5

Engines are new or upgraded and a plug-in hybrid is available

The Volkswagen Golf has long faced competition not only from ‘external’ rivals, but from models within the VW Group, namely the SEAT Leon and Skoda Octavia. The competition has taken a new twist in the form of the all-electric ID.3 from Volkswagen's emissions-free electric-only range.

To remain competitive for those buyers not quite ready to make the switch to an EV, Volkswagen has made its legendary Golf more efficient than ever. Its engines have been revised, VW has ditched the 1.6-litre diesel in favour of the larger but more efficient 2.0-litre TDI and eTSI mild-hybrid petrol models are being introduced along with a new GTE plug-in hybrid.

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Volkswagen Golf MPG & CO2

We've already tried one of the new engines called eTSI, with a 1.5-litre mild-hybrid petrol and seven-speed automatic gearbox. It uses a powerful 48-volt starter generator paired with a small lithium-ion battery that's designed to take some strain off the engine. The car can coast with the engine off at higher speeds, stop and start works more effectively and there's a mild electric power boost when accelerating.

Meanwhile, the 2.0-litre TDI diesel with 148bhp is now only offered with a seven-speed DSG automatic, and despite its familiar badges VW claims it's been developed 'from scratch'. It features new 'twin dosing', where AdBlue emissions-reducing fluid is injected into the exhaust in two places, cutting NOx emissions by up to 17% It's likely to appeal mostly to high-mileage drivers who'll benefit from lower fuel consumption, although figures haven't yet been released.

While it's likely to be pricey, the Golf GTE is also likely to be desirable. The new plug-in hybrid will combine a 1.4-litre TSI petrol and electric motor to produce 242bhp, while its 13kWh battery pack will also enable an electric range of up to 37 miles. Due to the arrival of the ID.3, the e-Golf is unlikely to be replaced.

Insurance groups

Insurance groups for the Mk8 Golf haven't been disclosed yet, but we'd expect them to stick close to the Mk7's ratings. These spanned from 11 for the 1.0-litre petrol to 33 for the Golf GTI performance.

Warranty

We'd be surprised if Volkswagen deviated from the three-year/60,000-mile warranty it offers across its model range. This equals rivals like the Ford Focus, but can't compare to the more generous five year warranties for the Hyundai i30 and Toyota Corolla, or the seven-year warranty the Kia Ceed is sold with.

Servicing

Volkswagen has traditionally offered variable servicing intervals for the Golf, and customers can help budget for maintenance costs by paying monthly.

4.5 / 5

How the Mk8 drives depends heavily on the trim level and engine, because while entry-level versions get a simple torsion bar rear suspension, pricier Golfs swap this for a more advanced multi-link setup. Buyers can also order Dynamic Chassis Control, which includes adaptive dampers and Eco, Comfort, Sport and Individual driving modes.

Comfort makes the steering too vague, while Sport makes the suspension slightly too firm for a normal hatchback, so cherry-picking the best setup is a big positive. Concentrate really hard and the Mk8 feels slightly more agile than the Mk7, and nails the Golf personality of being both comfortable and good to drive.

Volkswagen Golf petrol engines

There's certainly no lack of choice in the engine department. The range starts with the 1.0-litre TSI (89 or 108bhp) and 1.5-litre TSI (127 or 148bhp) engines carried over from the Mk7 Golf. All come with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, but all except the 89bhp version can also be chosen with Volkswagen's eTSI mild-hybrid tech and a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox.

Acceleration from 0-62mph takes just 8.5 seconds in the 148bhp eTSI, and unlike many mild-hybrids we've tried, you can feel the system boosting performance when pulling away. The engine cuts in and out smoothly, and at higher speeds the transition is barely noticeable. Unfortunately, the DSG gearbox isn't quite as impressive, with a noticeable delay before downshifting if you press the accelerator firmly.

Detrol engines

There's just one diesel in the Mk8 Golf - a new version of the 2.0-litre TDI, with either 113 or 148bhp and extra technology to reduce exhaust emissions. We've tried the latter and found it impressively smooth; it may very well be more refined than the 1.5-litre eTSI under acceleration. The extra 20Nm of torque versus the old engine isn’t really noticeable, but it feels punchy and works well with the DSG automatic gearbox.

Hybrid engines

While you won't be able to get an all-electric Golf now that the ID.3 has arrived, the plug-in hybrid Golf GTE still boasts some impressive stats. For a start, it now has 242bhp from its 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine and electric motor, matching the outgoing Golf GTi Performance and giving it an impressive turn of speed. It will also be joined by a 201bhp version that prioritises efficiency but should easily match the diesels for pace.

The Volkswagen Golf maintains its careful balance between comfort and fun

4.5 / 5

If you're disappointed by Volkswagen's subtle makeover of the exterior, the Golf's new interior could help win you round. VW had to respond to the rapid shift in interior design from analogue to digital, as witnessed in models like the Mercedes A-Class, and the result is more attractive and interesting.

Volkswagen Golf dashboard

While it was certainly upmarket, the previous Golf's dashboard was rather sober. The Mk8 remedies that with a sleek design that's more attractive and swaps physical buttons for touch-sensitive ones. Like the A-Class, there's a digital display for the dials (10 inches here) and another for the infotainment system (10.25-inches) called Innovision Cockpit that flow together almost seamlessly.

Surprisingly, though, there appear to have been some cutbacks. The Golf has long reigned supreme in the mainstream hatchback class for interior quality, but the plastic across the dash feels a bit cheap, the rear doors forgo the soft-touch pad found in the front and when you open the bonnet, the old gas struts have been replaced by a manual stick to prop it up.

Equipment

The new technology isn’t entirely positive because the Golf's simple menus have been replaced by a new interface that's more fiddly to use. There's some relief using "Hello Volkswagen" voice commands, which can control most features without needing to lift a finger from the steering wheel. Connectivity is excellent, with everything from Alexa integration to Car2X traffic and hazard data sharing, along with wireless Apple CarPlay.

Full UK specifications and trim levels haven't been confirmed, but buyers will have a new set of names to get used to, as Volkswagen will now use the same badges as they do in Germany. The entry version is simply 'Golf', while 'Life' and 'Style' replace SE and SE L respectively. R-Line, GTE and performance badges (GTD, GTI, GTI TCR and R) will stay the same as they are now.

Expect standard LED lights, automatic air conditioning, keyless start and lane keeping assist. The Life trim is likely to add alloy wheels, wireless phone charging, a central armrest and enhanced interior lighting. Style will bring bigger wheels and luxury features like climate control, while R-Line makes the exterior styling more aggressive and upgrades the front seats and steering wheel for a sportier look and feel.

Options

Options haven't been confirmed but, along with some new paint colours, we already know buyers will be able to fit Dynamic Chassis Control if they want more choice over the way their Golf drives. New technology will also include a head-up display that projects information ahead of the driver, along with more options to stay connected while in the car. Enhanced sound will be offered with a 480-watt Harman Kardon sound system.

The Innovision Cockpit represents the biggest step forward for the eighth-gen Golf

4 / 5

Unlike the entirely new Volkswagen ID.3, the Mk8 Golf is an evolution of the MQB-based Mk7, so reliability shouldn't change and safety promises to be even better.

Volkswagen Golf reliability

Sharing the same underpinnings as the Mk7, the latest Golf should in theory be similarly reliable. The only potential new problems would come from the new digital technology fitted inside and the eTSI mild-hybrid systems, both of which could throw up minor faults. If they do, hopefully Volkswagen will be able to remedy them with software updates.

The Mk7 Golf came a respectable 41st out of the top 100 cars in our 2019 Driver Power survey, despite the fact just over a quarter of owners told us they'd had one or more problems with their car in the first year. Electrical issues were the most commonly reported.

Safety

Buyers will expect nothing less than a five-star Euro NCAP crash-test score, and there's an impressive roster of safety technology. Highlights include lane keeping assist, Car2X communications that share hazard warnings between cars, LED Matrix headlights and driving aids that can help drive the car at speeds of up to 130mph.

New technology could cause hiccups but safety won’t be one of them

4 / 5

Plenty of room for four adults but there are more spacious alternatives

It might be new but the Mk8 Golf is based on the same MQB platform as before, so interior space is almost identical. Just like before, it's average for the class, with plenty of room for adults and a fairly average-size boot.

Volkswagen Golf interior space & storage

One virtue of the Golf has always been a highly adjustable driving position, and that certainly hasn't changed. The steering wheel has a good range of movement for reach and rake, and the seat can accommodate adults of all shapes and sizes, even those well over six-feet tall. There's just about enough room for three adults in the back, although it's better suited to four people as there's a transmission tunnel running through the middle of the car. If you need more space the Skoda Octavia still rules to roost.

Boot space

Boot space is unchanged at 380 litres, even in the eTSI mild-hybrid version, which has its battery pack hidden under the passenger seat. Fold the rear seats down and there's 1,237 litres of space. This is on a par with rivals like the Kia Ceed, but the Honda Civic (478 litres) and Skoda Octavia (590 litres) are much bigger.

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Last updated
4 Dec 2019

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