Volkswagen has released full details of the new Golf, the eighth generation of its most popular model ever. Unsurprisingly, the exterior design represents a modest evolution over its predecessor, but underneath it's all change, with a digital dashboard, loads of hybrid options and lots of clever connectivity touches, all underlined by a renewed focus on cutting-edge technology. It's expected that the Golf 8 will hit Irish shores by March 2020.
High-tech cabin sets the tone
Whatever you think of the restrained look of the new Golf (in short, it's about the same physical size as before, but it slips through the air easier and LED lighting all-round is standard - oh, and there will be no three-door version), the cabin promises to be something very special indeed. As standard, all versions of the Golf will have a 'digital cockpit', which combines digitally rendered - and customisable - instrumentation with centrally mounted touchscreen infotainment. It looks neatly integrated, too.
That slick appearance hides an 'always-connected' architecture, maximised by the We Connect apps, while the Golf also debuts Volkswagen's 'Car2X' technology. This is short for 'car to everything else communication', which is set to revolutionise road safety by employing swarm intelligence in traffic. It's in its infancy still, but, as standard fitment in the Golf, it should quickly be developed, and the system can be easily updated over time. While the Golf gets Front Assist and Lane Assist safety functions as standard, buyers can also optionally upgrade to Travel Assist, the same semi-autonomous technology that VW rolled out on the updated Passat.
Hybrid power galore for the Golf
Though Irish market availability has yet to be confirmed, Volkswagen has detailed five different hybrid versions of the Golf 8. Three of those, marketed under the new 'eTSI' banner, are mild hybrids, using a 48-volt lithium-ion battery and belt-driven starter-generator for 10 per cent efficiency improvements according to VW. Three Golf eTSI power outputs will be produced - 110hp, 130hp and 150hp.
Plug-in hybrid power will also be offered in the new Golf, as before, in the shape of the sporty Golf GTE model. It now gets maximum power of 245hp from the same core setup (the outgoing version had 204hp), which pairs a 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine with an electric motor. However, the lithium-ion battery has 50 per cent higher capacity (now 13kWh) for much longer electric-only running. Volkswagen has not yet confirmed that EV-mode range, but the same system in the updated Passat GTE is capable of up to 56 kilometres on a full charge, so the Golf GTE should be capable of a little better, as it's a lighter car. Interestingly, there will be a second plug-in hybrid version of the Golf 8 that is focused more on electric range than performance, with its power output pegged at 204hp.
Don't give up on diesel Golf
A new generation of 2.0-litre TDI diesel engines will be offered in the Golf, too, kicking off with 115hp and 150hp variants. A twin dosing SCR system featuring dual AdBlue injection in the exhaust is claimed to cut nitrogen oxide emissions (NOx) by up to 80 percent in comparison to the previous Golf. In fact, Volkswagen makes a very bold claim for these engines: "Consequently, the new TDI engines are amongst the world's cleanest combustion engines." VW confirmed that a Golf GTD will come on stream in time, but we have no further details on that.
Petrol power, of course
Speaking of fast Golfs, Volkswagen let slip that 2.0-litre TSI petrol power is on the way for a new generation of Golf GTI, Golf GTI TCR and Golf R. Until then, it's likely that the lowest-priced Golfs will be the regular TSI petrol models. A three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol engine will be offered in 90hp and 110hp states of tune, while the advanced 1.5-litre TSI unit with Active Cylinder Management is made in 130hp and 150hp guises. A mix of manual and DSG automatic gearboxes is offered across most options.
High standard equipment levels
While Volkswagen Ireland has yet to confirm its offering, it appears that the Golf will, in general, be even better equipped than before. All versions should get all-LED lighting, keyless start, the digital dashboard, climate control, a multi-function steering wheel and the safety systems outlined above. It seems that the Trendline, Comfortline and Highline trim names will be replaced by just Golf, Life and Style, while the R-Line name is retained.
We will be test-driving the VW Golf 8 in December, so keep an eye on the Volkswagen Golf reviews page for the full report.