Volkswagen Golf review

The Golf has long been the benchmark in the hatchback class and the new model looks set to continue this, with impressive levels of standard tech, improved engines and refinement that puts it further ahead in the class.

This is the new Volkswagen Golf 8, and it is the car that everyone else in the family hatchback class has to beat. Here in Ireland, the Golf is consistently one of the best-selling new hatchback cars alongside the Ford Focus and the Toyota Corolla, while it faces pressure from new rivals such as the new SEAT Leon.

From the outside the new Golf is a steady evolution from what has gone before, but that certainly isn’t the case when you step inside and for a closer look. We are going to take a look around the new Golf now to see how it has changed, but before we start, make sure to subscribe to the Carzone channel and check out for great deals on the Volkswagen from trusted sellers.

First thing is first, it is hard to look past this optional lime yellow metallic colour. It stands out from the crowd, but we can’t see many buyers ticking this one on the options list. The new Golf is based on the same structure as the Golf 7 with dimensions largely unchanged, so it is essentially the same size as before.

Up front there are new swooping LED headlights, a lower and slimmer front grille, revised bumpers and new bonnet creases. Along the side there is a new character line which runs the entire length of the car, while there’s plenty of new wheel choices too. At the rear there are new LED lights and a set of fancy looking but fake exhausts. Overall it is sleeker in appearance, and it should age well as a result.

Volkswagen offers the new Golf in three specifications; Life, Style and R-Line. Prices starts from around €28,000 for the entry Life  1.0-litre TSI.  Standard features on the Life model include 16-inch alloy wheels, parking sensors, a wireless smartphone charger, adaptive cruise control and lots more. Our test car is the mid-range Style, adding 17-inch alloy wheels, front sports seats, a rear-view camera and keyless entry with this rather slick looking key.   The R-Line has everything you could possibly need.  

Inside is where owners of the previous generation Golf will notice the biggest changes. It really has undergone a transformation in here with futuristic digital displays screens and controls.

This is the new Digital cockpit which is standard across all models of the Golf and it presents all of your driving data in vibrant colour. Moving across the dashboard there is a new raised infotainment screen which is available as a smaller 8-inch screen on the base Life model, or as is the case here, a larger 10-inch screen which is standard from Style upwards. While the surround of the screen itself and the centre console feels plasticy in areas, the system itself is certainly impressive.

The whole approach is minimalistic with touch screen controls and no buttons, which means it takes getting used to. For example if you want to adjust the air conditioning, you have to use these touch pads, where some would argue it would have been easier with the manual dials in the Golf of old. Of course there are optional features such as voice control and gesture control which can help, but not everyone will use.  

These front sports seats are very comfy and you still get good leg and headroom in the front and the rear seats and a 380 litre boot. As ever there are two sets of ISOFIX for family buyers and plenty of storage areas too

The new Golf is based on the same MQB platform as the old one so there isn’t a huge difference in how it feels to drive. That’s a good thing as the cabin is quiet on the move, the suspension is smooth and there is plenty of grip during cornering too.

There is a decent range of engines available too, with a 110 horsepower three-cylinder petrol engines, a 1.5-litre petrol with 130 or 150 horsepower and two diesels with either 115 or 150 horsepower. The petrol engines both offer better emmisions and fuel economy than before, especially if you go for the mild-hybrid.

This is the 1.5eTSI petrol with a seven speed DSG auto transmission and mild hybrid technology and it is an excellent combination with lots of power and extra efficiency from the mild hybrid setup, though it is at the higher end of the price scale.  This one will set you back almost €36,000.

One of the big talking points of the new Golf is Car2X. Car2x is a system that allows the Golf to talk to other cars and infrastructure over wifi, to alert you of collisions ahead on the road or potential hazards too. While it is an impressive new aspect to the Golf, at present very few cars have this system on the road and it will take time for it to become truly effective as a result. Nonetheless it offers us a glimpse of the future and is a core new technology offering in the Golf.

The Golf has long been the benchmark in the hatchback class and the new model looks set to continue this, with impressive levels of standard tech, improved engines and refinement that puts it further ahead in the class. While the latest SEAT Leon and the Ford Focus are nipping at its heels at a lower price point, the new Golf places itself firmly on top of the pile once again. Sure the infotainment takes getting used to, as does certain aspects of the new styling, but we can’t help but feel that this Golf will continue to sell just aswell and remain the class favourite for the foreseeable future.

Test Car Details:

Model driven: Volkswagen Golf

Prices from: €27,750

Price as tested: €35,992

Annual Motor Tax: €190

Engine: 1.5 eTSI 150HP DSG

Power/Torque: 150bhp

Top Speed: 224km/h

0-100km/h: 8.2 seconds

Transmission: DSG Automatic

Body style: Hatchback

Boot Space: 380 litres

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