New VW Golf Mk8: next hatchback spied in PHEV

Published: 16 September 2019

► The new 2020 VW Golf revealed
► Scoop intel and artist's impressions
► Slick polish aims to pep up Golf v8.0

The new Volkswagen Golf Mk8 is nearly here, and we've spied the PHEV version of the hatchback testing. These pictures – with almost no camo – show the new Golf in hybrid trim, and oue sources suggest it'll be the only electrified version of the hatchback on sale. That's right, Wolfsburg is ditching the eGolf as the ID.3 now takes its place as the flagship EV hatchback from VW. 

As for the Golf PHEV? The styling is pretty much as you'd expect, save for the charging point toward the front of the car. It's going to be an eye-catcher, but this time around, it has to be. The next Golf has got a stiff mission statement as it bids to evolve the model's appeal in the face of increased competition from electric wannabes such as the all-singing-and-dancing ID 3 electric sibling. 

VW Golf Mk8: what to expect

The footprint of the new Golf is relatively unchanged, with a 2630mm wheelbase. That is stretched slightly with a 50mm growth spurt in the forthcoming Golf Estate, to free up more space for limbs and luggage. Our artist's impression above depicts the regular five-door hatchback, whose drag coefficient is said to be class-leading.

The big engineering news is the adoption of mild hybrid tech across much of the range, which is underpinned by the latest MQB hardware. All base models will be front-wheel drive and there will be 24-volt and 48v mild and plug-in hybrids available:

  • 1.0 TSI  Least potent model gets 89bhp 1.0-litre triple
  • 1.5 TSI  Regular petrol models have choice of 128bhp and 148bhp
  • 1.4 TSI PHEVs  Plug-in models use new 1.4, rated at 148bhp or 178bhp
  • 1.5 TSI 48v mild hybrid  New poster-child for low emissions and cheap cost  
  • 2.0 TDI diesel  113bhp or 148bhp for those who insist on diesel

The new Golf range will also usher in a step change in semi-autonomous driving skills: signals from cameras, radar and other sensors will allow the new hatchback to do much self-driving, whether parking in a bay or braking to avoid a collision. It's also highly connected: expect apps to let you find your parked car, plan your journey and set your preferences so your Golf is pre-programmed with your favourite settings when you climb onboard...

What about the new VW Golf GTI?

New 2020 VW Golf GTI: CAR magazine's artist's impression

Volkswagen has a long and mostly glorious reputation for building classy hot hatches - and it won't deviate from this for the Mk8 family. Our artists have used insider intel to generate these renderings (red car on red background, above and below) to show what it'll look like.

The venerable Golf GTI is returning for its eighth iteration with a mission to tempt hot hatches to stay loyal to the genre – but it's not taking many chances. Our photographers have snapped the Mk8 GTI testing, and it looks to be all about evolution rather than revolution. Look at the pictures below, and you'll see the same downward-cast headlights as the standard car we've snapped – but now set against a slightly more aggressive package. 

Air intakes are larger, and deeper to promote a sportier feel, and this Golf has is also wearing wider side sills and rims. At the rear, more skirting and larger dual echaust pipes give the game away.

The regular Golf GTI returns with its familiar 2.0-litre turbo four now making 232bhp. It comes with a six-speed manual gearbox or, as a cost option, a seven-speed DSG twin-clutch auto. Expect a 0-62mph time of 6.1sec, aided by a marginally lower weight and a more slippery body. Top speed is restricted to 155mph.

The GTI Cup is a new addition to the line-up of go-faster Golfs. Inspired by the TCR derivative of the Mk7, it’s the sportiest Golf by a clear margin. It boasts the wildest aero kit, the lowest ride height, the fattest wheels and the biggest brakes, plus a differential lock to boost front-wheel drive traction. The power output is a reassuring 286bhp, and the maximum torque of 273lb ft is on tap from 1600 to 4300rpm. Optionally, you can pay to have the top speed limiter chip removed, buying you 166mph.

New Mk8 VW Golf inteiror

Insiders speak of a great-looking and very well made interior that includes a completely new set of instruments and controls that shuns buttons and knobs, as is the trend for bigger digital screens replacing more physical switchgear. We've got spy shots, too – obviously.

So what’s it like? The left-hand-drive car VW Golf Mk8 pictured above features a dual screen infotainment system, with the left screen taking care of the cockpit dials. It’s a similar to set-up to Mercedes’ MBUX system, except there’s a kink between the two screens, and both have a larger border than the Merc's. Of course, that detail could vary depending on the trim level you go for (we expect a choice of 8in or 10in digital screens, depending on spec).

The Golf's exterior is said to be modern, sleek and evolutionary with a twist. Put it this way: you won't mistake it for anything other than a Golf. Among the most prominent styling details are much bigger, lower air intakes and five diamond-shaped daytime running lights, depicted in our artist’s impressions (car with red background). 

Not everybody likes the front end, which strikes some as looking like a sad face. But chief designer Klaus Bischoff tells CAR he’s confident that when you see it on the move you’ll be struck by its freshness and presence. His CEO Herbert Diess nods in agreement. 

New 2019 VW Golf GTI: artist's impression by CAR magazine

And you can be sure that the GTI will look sharper and more purposeful than more mainstream versions, which is the way it’s been since the first Golf GTI appeared in 1976. Expect the traditional red interior accents and chequered upholstery as well as the strong horizontal lines on the front.

New 2020 VW Golf GTI: here next year

When the Golf Mk8 arrives in 2020 there will be many permutations of engine, transmission and spec, but they’ll all have five doors, as the Golf has not been immune to the global loss of interest in three-door hatches. At the top of the Golf range there will be three distinct versions: 

  • GTI
  • GTI Cup
  • Golf R

The new 2020 VW Golf R

The next VW Golf R is, again, powerful and composed – an uber-GTI with tidier road manners and a more comprehensive specification. It shares its 328bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre four with the forthcoming Arteon shooting brake. The peak torque of 295lb ft is distributed to all four wheels via the seven-speed DSG. Expect an acceleration time of 4.3sec and relatively frugal fuel consumption. A 48-volt system with mild hybrid technology should be available on all three high-end Golfs. 

Each model gets its own bumper graphics and cockpit treatment, and options including 20in wheels, larger-diameter cross-drilled sports brakes, lowered sports suspension with adaptive dampers, an Akrapovic exhaust and a blacked-out bodykit.

The best hot hatchbacks on sale

By Georg Kacher

European editor, secrets uncoverer, futurist, first man behind any wheel