New VW Golf Mk8: first official look

Published: 24 October 2019

► New VW Golf Mk8 revealed
► The ICE ID.3
► Hatch remains at heart of brand

Here’s Volkswagen Golf number eight. Yep, clearly tired of the standard ‘squint and it looks the same’ thing that we all say when a new Golf happens, Volkswagen has made the latest version of its hatchback mainstay squint right back at you. That’s an intense stare.    

Okay, so nobody was expecting an exterior transformation of Simon Cowell’s new face magnitude, but let’s give Volkswagen some credit for the interior. It genuinely moves things forward: real safety advances, proper interesting tech, classic Golf quality, but in very non-Golf style, much more edgy. 

We’ll gloss over the outside bits because, clearly, that’s what Volkswagen has done too: it’s on the same MQB platform as the outgoing Golf and it is, you’ll notice, proportionally and dimensionally almost identical.  

A distinctly driver focussed twin-screen setup called…sigh…‘Innovision Cockpit’ de-clutters the dashboard almost entirely. And if you’re worried that what you see here is mostly optional extra stuff, don’t be: all UK cars get the bigger 10.25-inch multimedia screen and digital instrument display as standard. Other markets make do with an 8.25-incher at the base end of the range. Lucky us. 

Near all of the Golf’s innovation is technological. It’s almost certain that the eight’s driving experience will be as familiar to the Golf seven as the looks – tellingly, Volkswagen didn’t provide a single chassis engineer for the Golf’s launch event, instead focusing on connectivity. 

As before though, lower end Golfs get twist beam rear suspension and the more expensive models a multi-link setup, but as for any bold claims of added dynamism…none to speak of. Has VW deemed the driving stuff less important to the average Golf buyer than charging a phone wirelessly and being able to check Instagram in the gym car park? You can do both those things, by the way – a three-year We Connect Plus online connectivity subscription is standard. You get Alexa too, so the kids can drive you mad asking her to rap or call Siri hurtful names. 

Safety was a big focal point for VW during the Golf’s development. LED lights and automatic city braking are standard – in fact, the car will pretty much detect anything that’s about to hit you, or that you’re about to hit, and take measures to prevent it happening. Other clever stuff includes VW’s ‘Car2X’ system that links to online traffic info and to other cars to warn of accidents or danger spots in the vicinity. And the cruise control is of the fancy sort that steers for you, obviously. At autobahn speeds, less obviously.  

Engines then. No real surprises: we’re talking 1.0-, 1.5- and 2.0-litre TSI petrol and 2.0-litre TDI diesel, power starting at 90PS and stretching to possibly four times that when the inevitable R version arrives. What’s more interesting is the range of electrical assistance the engines get. Mild hybrid tech called eTSI cuts petrol CO2 emissions by around 10%, while the new diesel is up to 17% more efficient, claims VW. 

A new 241bhp GTE plug-in hybrid is on the way too – although no full electric version, owing to the existence of the ID3, and no chubby SV this time around either. You can buy a T-Roc to do that job.

It’s too early to pin prices down but with all this tech you can expect a little bump, meaning no Golf is likely to cost less than £20,000. It hits the showrooms early next year. 

Read all our VW Golf reviews

By Chris Chilton

Contributing editor, ace driver, wit supplier, mischief maker