Volkswagen Golf 8
By Bill McCarthy
THE iconic Golf has now been around since 1974. A runaway success that has endured for decades with its combination of quality, practicality and reliability, not to mention a few technical firsts.
The latest, eighth generation, is a bit of a leap forward in design and tech. A new car, still unmistakably a Golf, but with sharper styling, leaner, more efficient engines and an innovative interior with state-of-the-art technology.
Usually the reserve of more expensive and larger models, these can include a head-up display, adjustable ambient lighting with 32 colour options, and the ability to use a mobile phone as the vehicle key
It is still an excellent drive, with pin sharp steering and first class handling and has the desirability that challenges even the more upmarket German models.
The Golf 8 will, says VW, eventually have the widest selection of engines in its class, the most efficient of these offering a reduction in fuel consumption by up to 17per cent compared with the outgoing car. These include petrol, cleaner diesels, mild and full hybrid.
Still based on the firm’s MQB platform, it is slightly longer than the outgoing model but with virtually the same wheelbase, however the new slippery design means the Cd or drag figure is reduced, making it the most efficient yet. Essentially boot and passenger space remain pretty much the same.
As ever, there are myriad variations with new trims and engine choices, from Life, Style and R-Line at the top end. Even the entry Life model has an upgrade on standard kit than the previous equivalent model with smart alloys, electric windows and door mirrors, parking sensors, central instrument panel and multimedia touchscreen.
The Style driven here additionally offers 17-inch alloy, front sports seats, bespoke interior trim and upholstery, climate control, door mirror puddle lights and LED headlights including cornering function and ‘Style’ exterior badging.
It is an altogether sexier looking model than predecessors, with swooping bonnet and narrow front grille flanked by LED headlights, with the signature VW badge centre, and a large air scoop below. To the rear, the word Golf is emblazoned on the boot, the sign of a company’s confidence in its product.
The so-called digital Innovision Cockpit is standard across the range and includes 10-inch display, and online navigation, connectivity and infotainment system within the additional 10-inch touch-screen display. It does take a bit of getting used to, a bit like the Peugeot 308’s digital screen, with a lack of buttons. The centre console has touch pad sliders for the air conditioning system and infotainment system.
This mid-range model featured the 150PS, TSI petrol engine which delivers plenty of power, but excellent economy. It’s not all that long ago that the thought of a petrol engine of this size delivering around 50mpg would have seemed improbable. A sign of how petrol engine technology has moved on.
It’s lively and can hit 60mph in just over eight seconds, plenty of pace for most needs and on to a top speed of 139mph where permitted. Mated to the usual slick VW six-speed gearbox, it delivers instant acceleration and has enough torque for effortless overtaking on the motorway.
It also handles beautifully, the suspension reacting expertly to changes in road conditions and it feels stable and well-planted while cornering.
Technology includes a raft of safety kit, plus it is also the first VW to use the Car2X car-to-car wireless communication technology.
This enables the vehicle to exchange information between other vehicles and the traffic infrastructure and can exchange data about hazards on the road ahead, for example broken-down vehicles, traffic jams or even approaching emergency services
Still practical, there Is plenty of room for five people, along with a 381-litre luggage capacity. When the asymmetrical rear seat backrest is folded down, the load capacity increases to a maximum of 1,237 litres.
The best Golf so far so, after more than four decades, perhaps the last word should go to Ralf Brandstätter, CEO of VW Passenger Cars: “A Golf always remains a Golf because the underlying concept is timeless.”
Volkswagen Golf Style 1.5 TSI
Mechanical: 150PS, 1,498cc, four cylinder turbo charged petrol engine driving front wheels via six speed gearbox
Max speed: 139mph
0-62mph: 8.5 seconds
Combined mpg: 50.2
CO2 emissions: 125g/km
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles