In Depth

Volkswagen Golf Mk8 2020 reviews: critics praise ‘revolutionary’ new hatchback

Eighth-generation model is crammed with technology in both the cabin and under the bonnet

Critics have delivered their verdicts on Volkswagen’s eighth-generation Golf following the hatchback’s official unveiling last month.

The launch of the Golf Mk8 had been preceded by months of leaks about the new model, which introduces a host of new hi-tech driving modes and a revamped cabin featuring Amazon’s Alexa AI system.

The engine line-up has also been revised, with all models now offering some form of electrification.

Don’t expect a fully electric version, though - the German carmaker’s first mass-production EV, the ID.3, is expected to take the place of the current e-Golf EV. 

But “while the ID.3 represents the next generation of Volkswagen, in the medium term it is likely to be dwarfed in sales by the new Golf”, says Autocar.  

Here are all the details on VW’s brand new hatchback, and what the reviewers have to say about it:

Reviews

Although the new Golf was unveiled at the end of October, only a select few have got behind the wheel so far. 

Autocar’s Greg Kable says the eighth-generation hatchback “betters its predecessor in a number of key areas”, with a hi-tech interior that is a design “revolution” compared with the “relatively conservative” cabins of older models. 

VW’s attention to detail gives the new Golf an “immediate feeling of deep-seated integrity from the very first mile”, he adds. The increase in performance and refinement offered by the hybrid powertrain, along with the model’s “inherent maturity”, make the hatchback “a highly gratifying car to drive on just about any road and in any environment”, Kable continues.

Auto Express agrees that the Golf is more advanced than its predecessors, but says the new interior layout may “take some getting used to”, with “noticeably fewer buttons” and “a multitude of ways to issue your commands to the car’s various systems”.

The magazine also notes that “while wind noise is well suppressed, tyre roar is a constant companion”, and says the engine can be heard above 4,000rpm, too. “We’d even describe it as a little bit rough.”

That said, the new hybrid system “feels very neatly integrated” and the car still performs well on twisty roads. 

Expect more reviews to surface in the coming weeks. 

Price and UK release  

The next-generation Golf is expected to hit the showrooms “next year”, with prices set to start above the outgoing model’s £20,000 tag, according to Car magazine.  

Design and interior tech

Although spy shots of the pre-production model suggested that the new Golf had grown in size, Autocar claims that the eighth-generation hatchback’s dimensions are “largely unchanged” from its predecessor. The hatchback’s length measures 4,284mm, while its height and width are 1,456mm and 1,789mm respectively. 

The magazine describes the car’s styling as “evolutionary” and says its design will be “distinctly familiar” to the hatchback’s fans. The front end gets a new headlight design, while the car’s side profile has a “contoured” C-pillar, the section between the rear doors and boot, to give it “more presence” at the back.

On the inside, there is an overhauled cabin design that’s packed with technology. The dashboard, for instance, has been “completely redesigned”, with most physical buttons being replaced by a touchscreen infotainment panel and a digital instrument cluster, notes CarBuyer.

There’s also “state of the art connectivity”, the reviews site adds, including Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant and an online radio. Car2X is available, too, a system that lets the car automatically communicate with others to warn drivers of hazards such as broken-down vehicles or traffic jams. 

Engines and performance

At launch, the range will include an entry-level 1.0-litre petrol motor producing 109bhp, as well as 1.5-litre turbo petrol engines available in either 129bhp or 148bhp form, says WhatCar? All three variants can be specced with “mild-hybrid” tech, which charges a battery under braking to improve performance and fuel efficiency. 

“Those who do lots of miles might also want to consider the 114bhp and 148bhp diesels,” the motoring reviews site advises. But the “cleanest and most frugal model” is the GTE plug-in hybrid, which comes with a 1.4-litre engine and a battery electric motor that delivers 35 miles of zero-emission motoring. 

It’ll be quick, too, as the GTE’s 242bhp power output matches that of the outgoing, non-hybrid Golf GTI Performance, says Auto Express

Buyers after even more power will have to wait for the souped-up GTI and R models, with the latter set to up the current model’s 296bhp output, the motoring magazine continues. Company insiders claim that these may use hybrid systems to improve acceleration.

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