It's similar to the new electric ID. 3, with the controls positioned higher and closer to the steering wheel than before, giving the dashboard a more top-heavy nature. The centre console is wider and, in models featuring a dual-clutch gearbox, houses a stubby shift-by-wire gear selector in combination with a starter button, and the electric handbrake and hill holder.
There are very few physical buttons. All the major controls, including for the ventilation and driving modes, are housed within a touch-sensitive panel below the central display. A 'slider' is used to regulate various functions, including the volume. Its clearly meant to mimic the swipe of a smartphone, but is a bit hit and miss. As an alternative, Volkswagen offers a voice control system.
Perceived quality, always one of the Golf’s biggest strengths, has improved. Some might argue there is too much hard black plastic, but I suspect most prospective buyers will be taken at how well the dashboard is assembled and how expensive the materials used within the interior feel. The haptic feedback generated by the centre display and the response speed is a further plus point.
Continuing the modern look are ambient lighting strips within the dashboard and door trims as well as a host of other new optional features, including an excellent new head up display, which is available on the Golf for the first time and is a highly recommended addition.
The eighth-generation Golf features the latest third-generation version of Volkswagen MIB infotainment system. It is permanently connected to the internet via an embedded eSIM embedded, enabling online music streaming and real-time traffic information among other on-line features.
Volkswagen has also upgraded the Golf’s driver assistance systems, including optional Travel Assist, which combines adaptive cruise control and lane assist to enable “assisted hand-off driving” at speeds up to 130mph. The new Golf is the first Volkswagen model to feature Car2X (car-to-everything) technology, based on the harmonised European Union standard. It uses information generated by other vehicles and the road infrastructure to warn of tailbacks and the like.
While the dashboard represents a major departure on past models, the driving position and overall interior packaging is familiar. The front seats provide a good amount of lateral support, and the driver benefits from a wide range of steering wheel and seat adjustment.
How does the Golf perform on the road?
The most powerful of the new Golf’s mild hybrid drivetrains, the 1.5 eTSI driven here, distinguishes itself with inherently effective properties that should ensure it finds favour among traditional petrol engine car buyers and diesel stalwarts.
With 148bhp at 5000rpm, the turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder unit isn’t exactly brimming with energy. However, it is remarkably smooth and revs freely to the 6400rpm cut-out, endowing the new Golf with a moderately sporting performance when you dial up the sport mode. In everyday driving, though, there’s no need to work it hard, because with 184lb ft of torque available from 1500rpm it delivers a good amount of mid-range urge.
The seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox boasts improved step off qualities, while the latest petrol-electric powerplant propels the new Golf from 0-62mph in a claimed 8.5sec, with a top speed of 139mph. By comparison, the non-electrified 1.5 TSI model it replaces boasted figures of 8.7sec and 135mph. The 48-volt belt-driven starter motor brings additional functions, including brake energy recuperation, a coasting function and a more immediate stop/start system.