What is it?
Throughout its many generations it has evolved and grown, but remained focused on being as practical and usable on a day-to-day basis as possible. It’s also something of a household name in the UK - pretty much everyone knows the Volkswagen Golf.
Remarkably, we’re now into the eighth generation of Golf, with this latest version bringing more technology than before alongside a great emphasis on cleaner, greener engines. Let’s take a look at what else it has to offer.
This is no mid-life facelift - the new Golf is fresh from top to bottom and even sits on a new platform. Inside, we’ve got the same blend of hard-wearing yet good-looking materials, but there’s a cleaner aesthetic to this latest generation of Golf with fewer physical buttons than before - but more on that later.
Volkswagen has been keen to keep the same great level of build quality that was present on previous generations of the Golf in this latest model. It’s why you’ll find robust features and fittings throughout, ensuring that this is a car that’ll still look good decades from now, just as the original Golf does today.
What’s under the bonnet?
The Golf is offered with all manner of engine choices, with many utilising hybrid assistance in some way. There’s also a plug-in hybrid option and though there's no fully electric version - that job is taken care of by the ID.3 - it’s all very efficient and should prove cheap to run. Our test car uses a standard 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine with 148bhp and 250Nm of torque, sent to the front wheels via a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox. It’s a healthy amount of power for this size of car and can take the Golf from 0-60mph in 8.2 seconds.
The 1.5-litre engine is also equipped with some mild-hybrid assistance to help boost efficiency further. As a result, Volkswagen says you should get up to 49.2 combined - and you could see more on longer runs - alongside CO2 emissions of 130g/km.
What’s it like to drive?
There’s nothing too controversial about the way the Golf drives, but that’s not a bad thing in the slightest. It’s predictable and easy to get along with thanks to simple-to-judge steering and nicely weighted controls. It rides well, too, particularly models with smaller wheels and larger tyres. It’s also nice and quiet with motorway noises being well masked from entering the cabin - though wind noise can be a little noticeable when you’re travelling more quickly.
The seats have some nice padding to them too while visibility is good all around. The seven-speed DSG gearbox is ever-so-slightly hesitant to kick down when you accelerate hard, but for the most part it’s smooth and responsive enough.
How does it look?
The Golf has always been about evolution and you can certainly tell that with this latest generation. Park it alongside other editions and it’s easy to trace the lineage; in truth, if you blanked off the Volkswagen logo it’d still be easy to tell that his model was a Golf.
The proportions look good both on the move and static, while some sharp touches like the rear lights and edgier headlights ensure that the Golf has a little bit of ‘modern’ style rather than being an out-and-out throwback.
What’s it like inside?
Volkswagen has taken a new approach with the interior of the Golf. It’s now got far fewer physical buttons than before, with most of the features and settings housed within the central screen. It’s not an awfully intuitive setup, sadly, but it’s most noticeable due to the heating and ventilation controls as they too are housed within the screen and take more effort to use than simply tapping a button.
However, you can’t fault the overall ergonomics thanks to good seat adjustability for the driver and plenty of space for rear-seat passengers. The Golf’s boxy shape continues to mean that there’s more headroom than you’d expect, too. In terms of boot space, the Golf’s 380-litre boot is nice and easy to access and, when you fold the rear seats down, can be expanded to 1,237 litres.
What’s the spec like?
Our test car came in entry-level ‘Life’ specification which delivers far more equipment than you’d think would come from a base trim level. You get that 10-inch central display which, alongside navigation and media functions, also includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto so you can easily mirror your smartphone’s display on the main screen.
All versions get alloy wheels, too, which helps to lift the overall look and feel of the car while the 10-inch active driver display - which sits in place of the ‘conventional’ dials - is configurable but, most importantly, easy to read as well.
The Volkswagen Golf has always been a car you could rely on and this latest version appears to continue this ethos. It’s easy to drive, practical and has enough of those everyday features that you need without feeling too techy. Some more buttons would be nice, but that’s just a small niggle.
A variety of engine options ensure that there’s a powertrain for all types of buyers but it’s the Golf’s no-nonsense feel which continues to shine through on this latest model.