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First Drive

First Drive: Volkwagen Golf

The story:
Now in its eighth generation, the Volkswagen Golf has a deserved reputation for just doing everything really well, making it one of the most popular cars on sale today.
Category:Family car
Key rival:Ford Focus
Volkswagen Golf 1.5 TSI 130hp Style
Price:£24,500 (est)
MPG:45.0 mpg (est)
Emissions:114g/km (est)
On sale:February 2020 (est)

Look forward and the new Golf is a big leap on, look back and little has changed, it may sound like a marketing phrase but it neatly describes many aspects of the new, eighth-generation Golf.

The Golf sits at the core of the Volkswagen’s range, so the brand isn’t going to do anything to scare off the vast swathes of existing customers or put off any new punters.

To this end the front of the Golf has been given a sharp new look that clearly gives it a fresh appearance. However, look further along the car and while all the panels are new, there’s absolutely no mistaking the car’s identity.

First Drive-December 2019- Volkswagen Golf-Image 8Similarly, if you look inside the back of the car the boot has an identical 380 litres to the seventh-generation model. And the rear-seat space is only fractionally better than before.

Up front is where it’s all-change to all-tech. The dashboard has gone fully digital with a flowing twin-screen arrangement plus a small number of touch-sensitive controls for functions such as the lights and air-conditioning.

All trim levels come with both a 10-inch infotainment screen and a 10-inch digital instrument display cluster.

While the Golf’s dashboard is not quite as classy as the twin-screen set-up in the Mercedes A-class, it has significantly more wow-factor than just about every other family hatchback.

As well as looking impressive, this means that a whole host of functions are customisable, such as the cabin lighting, plus which information is displayed and in which manner.

All this tech is impressive even with the few glitches we suffered, such as the voice assistant stopping working and the satellite-navigation set-up proving slow to respond. However, VW promises a software upgrade before the car goes on sale.

Equipment levels have been improved across the range along with the trim level names. The entry trim level is ‘Golf’, while next up is Life, then Style and R Design.

First Drive-December 2019- Volkswagen Golf-Image 6At launch, the Golf will be available with five powertrain options, a 1.5 petrol in either 130hp or 150hp forms, a 2.0 diesel with either 115hp or 150hp (which is not yet Euro6d compliant) and a 150hp mild hybrid linked to a 1.5-litre petrol.

The best seller is expected to be the 130hp 1.5 petrol, which is claimed to be around 17% more efficient than it was in the outgoing car. It’s a smooth and refined engine with plenty of power for most drivers.

On the road, the Golf behaves well, with comfort at its core. It’s not as driver-focused as the latest Vauxhall Astra, but it is more refined, particularly in terms of noise that comes through the suspension over bumpy surfaces. However, those Golfs with 150hp or higher have different rear suspension, which has a big impact on the way the car drives and offers all the comfort of the lower-powered models but adds a more involving driving experience.

tristan young

The verdict

A high-class family hatchback with the latest tech, efficient engines and serious fleet appeal.