Home / Health & Fitness / Review – Mark 8 version of Volkswagen Golf five-door hatchback has subtle tweaks

Review – Mark 8 version of Volkswagen Golf five-door hatchback has subtle tweaks

You can plot your life’s journey alongside the Volkswagen Golf.

One of the world’s best-selling cars of all time was launched in 1974 when we had the three-day week, Abba won the Eurovision Song Contest, and I’m 12 years old.

The Mk2 came out in 1983 when the first ­compact disc was sold in the UK – I’m now 21.

And here we are 37 years further on with this latest Golf, now up to Mk8.

Like its predecessor, it is built on VW’s highly adaptable MQB platform that’s also used in dozens of Audis, Skodas and Seats.

It hasn’t been dramatically changed for this new Golf but the car has grown 29mm in length, 10mm in width and 4mm in height – making it harder to park.

The changes are there – but will be hard to spot
(Image: Handout / Volkswagen)

Any styling changes are subtle. The headlamps are shallower and more contemporary, and all Golfs now have five doors.

There will be an estate along later as well as a GTI and even hotter R model.

The big changes are all inside with a brand new digital dashboard that features a 10.3in digital instrument cluster and a 8.25in or optional 10in central touchscreen for the infotainment and many of the car’s systems.

There’s a new multifunction steering wheel that’s refreshingly logical to use. There are very few physical buttons and switches as virtually everything is controlled via the touchscreen, including heating and ventilation, and driving modes.

A pure electric version is on the way
(Image: Handout / Volkswagen)

There’s a slider that controls the audio volume but it’s a bit hit and miss. The optional voice control system should help.

There’s some evidence of cost cutting on this new generation Golf. Some is subtle – lack of gas struts for the bonnet and matt rather than body-coloured paint on its underside.

But inside there’s quite a lot of hard plastic, and the door bin is lined with felt where you can see it, but not on the edge that you can’t, so oddments will still rattle about.

A wide range of powerplants is available and there’s a pure electric version on its way – the upcoming VW ID.3.

In the meantime there is a choice of engines
(Image: Handout / Volkswagen)

There are a couple of 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engines, a 1.5-litre four-cylinder, and a two-litre diesel unit with a choice of two power outputs. The petrol-powered cars are available with mild hybrid and it’s one of these that we’re testing.

Fitted to our £26,390 Life-spec test car is the 1.5-litre four-cylinder producing 148bhp, via a seven-speed DSG auto gearbox. Four-wheel drive is available as an option on certain Golf models.

It’s an excellent powertrain, especially if you’ve been put off from buying a diesel car and don’t have off-street parking which makes owning a plug-in hybrid impractical.

The eTSI powertrain (as it’s badged) features a belt driven 48v starter/generator unit that enables brake energy regeneration, a more efficient start/stop function and also adds extra torque to aid with acceleration.

Economy is great thanks to some tricks
(Image: Handout / Volkswagen)

The 1.5-litre engine also features cylinder de-activation which knocks the motor down to two cylinders under light load.

These tricks to improve economy really work too, as we easily managed mid 50s to the gallon during our test. But that said, the diesel will better those numbers almost regardless of how you drive it.

Quality is still top notch but you do, especially in the belt-tightening times that we’re about to face, have to wonder how much technology and soft furnishings you really need in your life.

Car Reviews

Should Mk7 owners go for an upgrade? If you’re not swayed by digital screens and features like onboard wi-fi, probably not.

The new Golf is a little bit more precise in its handling but then since 1974 it’s always offered safe and dependable behaviour.

Other cars might be more fun to drive, but few can beat the Golf’s all-round appeal.

THE FACTS

Volkswagen Golf eTSI five-door hatchback

Price: £26,390

Engine: 1.5-litre four-cylinder, 148bhp

0-60mph: 8.5sec

Fuel consumption: 49.2mpg

Co2: 130g/km

THE RIVALS

Ford Focus ST Line X

The Focus is just £27,890
(Image: Publicity Picture)

Good to drive, brisk and practical. Expect a good discount.

Kia Ceed 3

The Kia is a sensible £23,405
(Image: Publicity Picture)

Big warranty, good value, simple.

Vauxhall Astra SRi Nav

The Astra is just £24,840
(Image: Publicity Picture)

Attractive styling and good value for money. As with the Ford, expect a healthy discount.

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