When you’ve got a bestselling car that has racked up more than 35 million sales worldwide, you wouldn’t want to change things too much. This is a car that has evolved. On the outside, while the new 8th generation Golf does look different from some angles, the styling is still very much 'Golf-like'. It's on the inside where the Golf looks dramatically different. Overall, we think Motability customers who currently drive the MK7 Golf will find lots to like here.
The Volkswagen Golf hatch has come down in price, with the 'Life' trim now starting from £0 (was £499). 'R-Line' trims begin at £1749, and the 'GTE' PHEV trim has also returned for quarter 4 (section updated October 2023).
As one former Volkswagen Group Chairman once pointed out, 'the biggest mistake any Volkswagen Golf can make is to stop being a Golf'. Which is why the seven previous generation versions of this model have been marked by such gradual evolution. Visually though, this MK8 model certainly looks a little more distinct. Too much of a change? Only you can decide.
In some ways, this eighth-generation version isn't actually quite as much of a step forward as its predecessor. Most of the stuff you can't see is the same as before - the MQB platform and most of the engines for example. And the ground-breaking full-electric e-Golf is no more; Volkswagen wants to reserve full-battery-tech for its new ID family of models. Still, mild hybrid-tech features strongly and there are big steps forward in cabin design and quality.
Most of the engine ware in this Golf is carried over from before and as usual, gearboxes include the normal 6-speed manual and 7-speed DSG auto transmission options. The line-up starts with a 110PS 1.0-litre TSI petrol unit which is paired with a 6-speed manual gearbox. Order this base three cylinder unit in DSG auto form and it'll now come with the brand's 48V eTSI mild hybrid tech. The volume part of the petrol range is built around Volkswagen's familiar 1.5-litre TSI EVO powerplant, developing either 130 or 150PS. The faster 150PS version of this unit makes 62mph from rest in 8.5 seconds en route to a maximum of 139mph and if you order it with the optional 7-speed DSG auto transmission, you'll also get Volkswagen's latest 'eTSI' mild hybrid tech included. There's also a Golf GTE plug-in hybrid which mates a 1.4-litre TSI 150PS petrol engine with an 85kW electric motor, creating a total system output of 245PS, yet offering an all-electric WLTP-rated driving range of 36 miles. You'll search in vain for a full-electric version to replace the outgoing e-Golf: Volkswagen's ID.3 model will cover off that niche.
If you want a diesel, you'll find that Volkswagen has improved its 2.0-litre TDI 150PS offering, plus, as before, there's a 115PS version of this same TDI powerplant for entry-level customers. At the top of the range, the same engine develops 200PS in the top Golf GTD.
From an engineering perspective, this MK8 Golf, like its predecessor, uses the same front-wheel drive MQB platform, here updated so as to offer greater structural rigidity. As usual, there's the option of Volkswagen's 'DCC' 'Dynamic Chassis Control' adaptive damping system which works with a 'Driver Profile' driving modes system offering 'Eco', 'Comfort', 'Sport' and 'Individual' settings. And of course, there's extra camera-driven tech, including an optional 'Travel Assist' system which combines Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane assist to allow 'hands-free' driving at speeds of 130mph. Which sounds vaguely alarming but which Volkswagen assures us is a significant safety aid.
From the front, you might think that this MK8 model line doesn't look especially 'Golf-like' with its lower nose and slimmer grille flanked by beady full-LED headlights. Different front bumper styling varies with different trim levels and the rear features a set of angular LED tail lamps. The rear hatch features the brand's latest logo above 'Golf' lettering and the arrow-shaped C-pillar design (a Golf signature feature since the fourth-generation model) is carried forward onto this one. Dimensionally, this model is virtually the same size as its predecessor and as before, there's a choice of either five-door hatch or estate body styles.
Inside, there's a radical difference over the previous model with a contemporary cabin dominated by a couple of screens. There's a 10-inch centre-dash infotainment monitor with the usual features - including 'Apple CarPlay'/'Android Auto' smartphone-mirroring which can now be operated wirelessly. Complementing this is a 10.25-inch 'Digital Cockpit' TFT instrument display screen - the largest in the segment. Elsewhere, virtually all the traditional switches and buttons have made way for touch-sensitive ones - though buttons on the steering wheel and door panel do remain, as does the dash one for the hazard flashers. Rear seat space and boot capacity both remain much as before, so reasonably class competitive.
The Golf has always been one of the pricier options in the family hatchback segment - and it still is. If you were to buy this car outright, you'd be looking at pricing in the £23,000-£35,000 bracket. In other words, this car, as before, has been price-positioned just above mainstream family hatch models like Ford's Focus and Vauxhall's Astra. And just below premium-badged family hatch contenders like BMW's 1 Series, Audi's A3 and the Mercedes A-Class. To combat the technology of ritzy models like these, this MK8 Golf arrives with quite a portfolio of optional semi-autonomous driving tech, including a 'Travel Assist' feature that allows the car to accelerate, steer and brake on motorways at speeds of up to 130mph.
Standard equipment across the range includes a 10-inch centre-dash infotainment screen with an operating interface that responds to the command 'Hey Volkswagen', followed by whatever you want to ask. Also standard are the full-LED headlights and the 10.25-inch 'Digital Cockpit' instrument binnacle screen. Entry-level cars run on 16 inch wheels, but higher levels will gain 17-inch rims, plus extra ambient lighting options, chrome exhausts and leather trim options. Plush 'R-Line' models will get bespoke bumpers, trim elements and sports seats, with various similar tweaks featuring on the GTE version. Volkswagen also says that this MK8 Golf will be upgradeable, so if required, features like adaptive cruise control, light assist and a wi-fi hotspot can be added and enabled after you bought the car.
Across the range, fuel consumption is claimed to have improved by around 10%. The base 1.0 TSI petrol unit manages WLTP returns of up to 53.3mpg on the combined cycle and up to 121g/km of CO2. The mild hybrid 48-volt electrical system that features on the volume 1.5-litre petrol Golf models should allow for a decent improvement in running cost efficiency. It recovers energy that would otherwise be wasted when slowing down, redeploying up to 16hp and 25Nm of electric boost under acceleration.
The 130PS version of the 1.5 TSI engine manages 53.3mpg and up to 121g/km. The top 150PS version of that 1.5 TSI petrol unit manages up to 51.4mpg on the combined cycle, with up to 124g/km of CO2 emissions, while the figures for the mild hybrid eTSI DSG auto variant are 49.6mpg and 129g/km.
If you'd rather have one of the more conventional TDI diesel units, you'll find that both are cleaner than before, with changes claimed to cut CO2 emissions by 17%. The 2.0 TDI EVO 115PS unit manages up to 62.8mpg on the combined cycle, with up to 118g/km of CO2 emissions, figures that the faster 150PS version of this engine improves to 61.4mpg and up to 122g/km in DSG auto form.
The car's coasting function (available with DSG auto transmission) is always active helping with combined cycle WLTP figures we've just mentioned. Even more significantly, a new AdBlue delivery system cuts nitrogen oxide emissions across the TDI range by 80%. Volkswagen plans to introduce mild hybrid into these diesel units too in the near future.
Where the MK7 Golf was radical in its engineering but conservative in its packaging, this MK8 model is the precise opposite. To some extent, it's a pattern we've seen before with this model line and in this case, the result is a very complete package. The Golf has always been slightly pricier on the Motability Scheme than mainstream-branded family hatch rivals, but lesser versions have sometimes struggled to justify that premium. With this eighth-generation version, we venture to suggest that you'll feel much happier about parting with the extra cash for a higher Motability Advance Payment. And you might even feel that this VW is a better home for your money than a pricier premium-branded model of this sort - the Audi A3 that shares nearly all of this car's engineering for instance.
This is still, as a Golf always should be, a benchmark in its segment; a car that must feature highly on any family hatch driver's shopping list. In short, this is still a Golf - with all the model line heritage, depth of engineering and inherent quality that this badge has come to represent. So nothing much has changed. Even if everything seems different.
People with a disability and carers who choose a new Volkswagen Golf through Motability will receive a brand new car, delivered by a Motability Specialist at a local VW dealership, complete with insurance, servicing and maintenance, full breakdown assistance, replacement tyre cover, windscreen repair or replacement cover plus a mileage allowance of 60,000 miles over three years.
This month, these Volkswagen Golf models can be ordered through the Motability Scheme: