Parkers overall rating: 4.6 out of 5 4.6
  • Enormous range of engines
  • Petrol, diesel, hybrid, plug-in hybrid
  • Performance versions to follow

One of everything here, with power ranging between 90-300hp, minus an all-electric model of course, which is now catered for by the ID. 3. Basically you’ve got the choice of petrol, diesel, mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid, plus performance versions of those badged GTI, GTI TCR, GTE, GTD and of course R. Got that? Good. There’s basically a Golf for every occasion.

Expect a choice of six-speed manual and six- or seven-speed DSG automatic gearboxes depending on which engine you choose.

Petrol engines

Initially you’ll be able to choose from a 1.5-litre TSI with 130 or 150hp, and this engine has the ability to shut down two of its cylinders when not needed in order to save fuel.

The 130hp output produces 200Nm of torque and takes 9.2 seconds to sprint from 0-62mph. The manual version of this car is set to be the biggest seller, and we found it to be powerful enough with well-insulated engine noise unless pushed hard, at which point it becomes a bit coarse. The 150hp version takes 8.5 seconds from 0-62mph.

Later a smaller 1.0-litre, three cylinder unit will become available - this comes with 90 or 110hp.

VW has also promised a trio of 2.0-litre, four cylinder hot-hatches badged GTI, GTI TCR and R. Expect these to be the most powerful Golf variants.

Mild-hybrid drive (eTSI)

In addition to the regular petrol range is a 48v mild-hybrid version of the 1.5-litre engine, with three outputs, badged eTSI. You can have this engine with 110, 130, or 150hp, and all come with a seven-speed dual-clutch DSG gearbox as standard.

This drivetrain uses a special belt starter generator and a 48v lithium-ion battery charged by regenerative braking in order to enable the Golf to coast with the engine off, in order to save fuel. VW also suggests the eTSI range will be punchier off the line and smoother than the standard petrols.

The 150hp version features 250Nm of torque from a barely ticking over 1,500rpm, but posts an identical 0-62mph time as the non-hybrid 150hp TSI. It actively manages its economy shutting down two cylinders or switching off entirely for moments of coasting.

We found it felt slightly sprightlier than the standard TSI, especially when pulling away, and quite punchy on a twisty country road. The only problem really was the slightly sleep nature of the standard-fit DSG, which took a while to shift, particularly on the way down its gears.

Plug-in hybrid

For those looking for an even more electrifying experience there will be, this time around, two plug-in Golfs.

VW Golf 2020 driving

Both use a 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine and electric motor fed through a six-speed DSG to generate either 204hp or 245hp in the form of the GTE. The latter is a Jekyll and Hyde kind of hot hatchback that offers searing performance plus the ability to waft around in EV mode.

Either way, a new lithium-ion battery features 50% percent more capacity, promising enough range to cover almost all daily journeys without the need to use any petrol.

Diesel engines

A new 2.0-litre TDI has been designed ‘from scratch’ says VW, with either 115hp or 150hp, and the option of a manual or automatic DSG gearbox.

The lower output TDI will crack 0-62mph in 10.2 seconds, while the more powerful takes 8.8 seconds. Torque (300Nm and 360Nm) is developed at a low 1,750rpm, so expect both diesel versions to feel relaxingly flexible for daily use.

We've driven the 150hp TDI and in a lot of ways it's all the Golf you need - relaxed in power delivery, torquey from the off and quiet in the cabin too.

VW also promises reduced CO2 and better responsiveness, while the addition of a new AdBlue injector cuts down on nitrogen oxide emissions by 80% compared with the old Golf.

A performance diesel called GTD will arrive later in 2020.

Handling

  • Larger range between comfort and performance
  • Promises to be more fun to drive
  • Different rear axle depending on version

The Golf has always been comfortable riding and confidently grippy, but not the most exciting steer in the world – this generation aims to shed that reputation once and for all.

And because it’s 2020 it does so with some mind-boggling tech (sort of, we’ve seen it in more performance-focused cars before) underneath the ‘driving dynamics manager’ umbrella.

Put simply this is a system that makes the suspension and various traction systems talk to eachother in order to avoid conflicting commands. Put even more simply, VW says the Golf will be more comfortable at one end and sharper at the other.

Put it less simply…

VW uses two things to influence the handling of the Golf – suspension dampers that can rapidly shift from firm to soft and XDS torque vectoring, which applies the brakes to a wheel when it starts to loose grip.

These two ensure that all four tyres have as much grip as possible, and that power is sent to the wheels that can use it best. This time around VW says a better control system ensures this all works harmoniously making it roll around less and feel more responsive through the steering wheel.

VW Golf 2020 cornering

Cars that feature adaptive dampers now offer a wider range of modes between comfort and sport, with an adjustable slider on the main screen that gives you exactly the type of set up you want.

On the whole it works well, but you'll only really notice this when pushing very hard indeed, at which point you can feel the wheels beneath you being braked here and there to keep things tidy.

We've only driven more workaday models so far and found them to be a great balance between everyday use and excitement, meaning the forthcoming GTI and GTI TCR could be very accomplished indeed.

Two different axle options

Like a great many of its competitors (Ford Focus, Mercedes-Benz A-Class, but not the Kia Ceed) the VW Golf now comes with two different rear axles depending on which version you choose.

So what? Well one of them is usually quite a bit comfier and brings with it better handling – Golfs with less than 150hp and front wheel drive get a torsion beam, those 150hp and above or with all-wheel drive (presumably just the R) get a multilink set up.

As eluded to, the multilink option is superior but it’s also more expensive, so you only get it on faster, pricer models.