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All-new Volkswagen Golf Mk8 on sale spring 2020

  • Efficient range of engines, including four hybrids
  • Packed to the gunnels with useful technology
  • GTD, GTI and R performance models arrive later

Few cars illustrate automotive Darwinism as succinctly as the Volkswagen Golf and – if evidence were needed – here are the first official photos of the all-new eighth-generation model. That’s right, despite it initially appearing to be something of a mid-life facelift, the Mk8 Golf is actually box fresh.

It also represents the second of VW’s two-pronged approach to satisfy the demands of today’s compact family car buyers. While the Golf will be sold with a combination of petrol, diesel, mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains, its debut has taken place just weeks after Volkswagen revealed the similarly sized – but fully electric – ID.3. Whether the ID.3 gradually cannibalises Golf sales will become apparent over the lifecycles of both models.

Same again styling, but almost everything’s new

Viewed from the side and the rear three-quarters, there’s a familiarity to how the Golf looks, but so subtle is the styling evolution that it doesn’t feel brand new. Where it looks more obviously different is the nose design – it’s not immediately good-looking, but at least it’s distinctive.

VW Golf 2020 side look

Whereas previous Golfs have featured headlights and grilles that cut into the leading edge of the bonnet-line, on the Mk8 they hang below, giving the somewhat unfortunate appearance of it having melted in the summer sun. The grille itself is very slender, with the majority of the air required by the engines being sucked through the much larger opening in the lower bumper.

So far only the five-door Golf Hatchback has been revealed – like virtually every rival, there’s no three-door version any more – but a successor to the capacious Golf Estate will likely reach the UK before the end of 2020. Whether the tallboy-esque Golf SV will be replaced is not yet clear.

Riding on the latest version of the Volkswagen Group’s modular MQB underpinnings, the Mk8 Golf is just 26mm longer (at 4,284mm), 36mm lower (now 1,456mm) and, depending on model, up to 10mm narrower (1,789mm, not including door mirrors) than the car it replaces. At 2,636mm, the wheelbase has only grown by 16mm suggesting that interior space isn’t going to be significantly more commodious than the outgoing model.

Petrol and diesel Golfs, but hybrids likely to dominate

As the electric e-Golf will essentially be replaced by the standalone ID.3 range, a suite of petrol and diesel engines will form the initial core of the mainstream range.

Performance and efficiency figures are still some weeks away from being confirmed, but we do know that petrols will come in four forms initially. A three-cylinder, 1.0-litre TSI petrol will come in 90hp and 110hp guises, while a four-cylinder 1.5-litre TSI with Active Cylinder Technology (ACT) – which reduces fuel consumption by shutting half the engine down when less acceleration is required - will be offered in 130hp and 150hp forms.

VW Golf 2020 driving

Diesel fans have a more restricted choice of 115hp and 150hp versions of the 2.0-litre TDI motor. As with the petrols, these come as standard with a new six-speed manual gearbox, or a DSG automatic, now featuring a dinky Porsche-style gear switch in place of a lever.

Thanks to the Golf’s updated underpinnings, partial electrification of the drivetrain is easier, resulting in two different types of hybrid system.

Packing a 48-volt mild-hybrid system are eTSI versions of the 110hp, 130hp and 150hp petrol engines, solely equipped with the DSG transmission. Again, no performance or efficiency statistics have been confirmed, but VW does cite that they have much smoother and immediate acceleration, something that has blighted the firm’s cars with that gearbox, as well as being able to turn the engine off completely as the Golf coasts, even at motorway speeds.

VW Golf 2020 GTE charging

Even more economical will be the plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) that Volkswagen is now badging eHybrid. The UK market will, for the time being, at least, not take the 204hp version, instead concentrating on the GTE version with 245hp. Once again, a 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine is mated to the electrical drive system, but now with a larger 13kWh battery pack – a 30-mile electric-only range should be within easy reach.

Performance Golfs come later

Long part of the Golf’s mystique has been the attraction of its sportier models, a fire Volkswagen will stoke more vigorously over 2020 and 2021.

In addition to the punchier eHybrid GTE, there will be replacements for the popular GTD diesel, the iconic GTI, the touring car-inspired GTI TCR and the flagship Golf R, complete with a redesigned logo that complements the updated VW badge and central tailgate nameplate in a more contemporary font for the Golf script.

Once again, no performance figures have been confirmed, but the GTD, GTIs and the R will all feature 2.0-litre turbocharged engines, with the quickest producing in excess of 300hp. It’s highly likely that the Golf R will feature 4Motion four-wheel drive, but whether other versions are available with the traction-enhancing system is unlikely.

Packed with convenient connective tech

From launch, the new Golf is set to be available in S, SE, SEL and sporty-looking R-Line trims, although the exact combination of specifications, engines and transmissions is some way off being confirmed.

What we do know is that every Golf will come with LED headlamps and tail lights – albeit with differing degrees of sophistication and function – but this is merely the start.

VW Golf 2020 interior look

Whereas the Golf’s exterior is a model of evolution, the interior’s undergone a much more significant transformation, with screens and touchpads in place of conventional dials and physical buttons. All versions feature a 10.25 Virtual Cockpit containing configurable instrumentation, while UK market versions all come with a 10-inch infotainment screen, which in turn is linked to the ‘always on’ connectivity packages – We Connect and We Connect Plus.

Depending on the specifications, We Connect allows owners’ smartphones to lock and unlock the Golf, as well as control and determine a number of its functions including its location and when the next service is due.

We Connect Plus, a free-of-charge feature for the first three years, adds further online connectivity including over-the-air sat-nav map updates, air-con functionality (for eHybrids), WiFi hotspot and the ability to receive deliveries straight to your car.

Technology to promote safety

Other cutting-edge tech available in the next Golf to benefit safety includes:

  • Car2X communications – this allows the Golf to communicate with other similarly-equipped cars and infrastructure to relay details of hazards such as accidents, jams and slippery conditions in order to give drivers even greater warning.
  • Travel Assist – VW’s latest iteration of is driver-assistance system means the adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping system to be even more reliable and now requires drivers to merely touch – rather than hold – the wheel while it’s operational.
  • Adaptive cruise control with predictive speed detection – using the existing system, but embellishing it with the ability to adapt speed based on mapping data and speed limit signs automatically.
  • Turn-off assist – designed to apply the brakes when crossing the flow of traffic, as you would at a crossroads. If the car senses an impending impact, the Golf will automatically brake to avoid a crash altogether or reduce the severity of it.
  • IQ Light – as mentioned above, all Golfs come with LED headlamps, but with three levels of sophistication, of which this is the highest, with matrix functionality to allowing just sections of the main beam to be switched on and off, rather than the whole thing.

How much will the Mk8 Golf cost?

Given that today’s Mk7 Golf costs from just under £21,000, we expect the newcomer to start at around £21,500 when order books open, towards the end of 2019. As with the outgoing model the VW will tackle a wealth of talented alternatives, including but not limited to the evergreen Ford Focus, the revitalised Vauxhall Astra, the strong-selling Honda Civic and the fun-to-drive Kia Ceed.

First customer deliveries will begin in spring 2020, with the GTE arriving by the summer. All other models mentioned, but not yet revealed, will trickle into showrooms throughout the second half of 2020 and into 2021.

VW Golf 2020 rear look

Keep this page bookmarked for further news and early driving impressions of the all-new Volkswagen Golf.

Also read:

>> Why is the current Golf still so well regarded? Read our full review

>> What does the new Golf have to beat? Find out more as we delve into the Ford Focus

>> Need something even bigger than the Golf? Read our updated VW Passat review