The Golf has had one of the best records in the motor trade history, alongside the likes of the Ford Fiesta and BMW 3-Series, where the name has remained the same for many years.
The Golf was originally introduced in 1974, then the MK2 in 1983, MK3 in 1991, MK4 in 1997, MK5 in 2003, MK6 in 2008, MK7 in 2012 and the latest version, the Golf 8, late in 2019. You can look at any Golf from over the years from any distance, and most people will instantaneously recognise it as a Golf, and the “8” is no different.
Many people, on first sight of the latest Golf said, well it’s no different to the MK7, and on initial viewing, it isn’t, but the first thing I did when the Press Test Car arrived was to park it next to my next door neighbours 2-year old Golf. And you can instantly see the differences: every body panel is different, the lights are completely different – much slimmer – and although it looks like a Golf, it is a different and much more modern looking car.
The car I had on test was the Golf Life, powered by a 1.5-litre eTSI that produces 150ps, and coupled to the super-smooth 7-speed DSG auto gearbox. It goes from 0-62mph in a relatively quick 8.5 seconds and a top speed of 139mph where permitted, which is virtually nowhere. It also has VW’s Mild-Hybrid system which uses a 48v lithium-ion battery and 48v belt starter generator in lieu of an alternator and starter. This battery power also acts as a small electric motor to help when pulling away, which saves a small amount of fuel and helps reduce emissions.
The Golf 8 might not be the most modern looking or a car that stands out in a crowd, but it is what lies beneath that is so impressive. It has a new underpinnings, a completely new body and a new interior.
As you get into the car for the first time, the first thing that strikes you is the complete lack of buttons and switches. Some remain on the steering wheel, and the wipers and indicator stalks are there, but everything else has been removed. It is now almost completely touch screen, and touch buttons. The gear lever in the automatic has gone on a diet and shrunk massively in size, from a lever that sticks out like a sore thumb, to a tiny little thing, but size doesn’t matter, as it still works perfectly well.
The 1.5-litre engine has only recently been introduced by VW Group and is proving to be very popular with buyers, the official Combined MPG figure from VW is 49.2mpg, and during the time I had the car, I averaged a very similar figure, sort of proving that the new WLTP test procedure is more accurate than previous testing systems.
The Life model does have a long list of standard specifications and safety features. It has Adaptive Cruise Control, Discover Satellite Navigation, Ambient lighting, keyless start, head-up display, 16-inch alloy wheels, LED front and rear lights, and so much more.
Driving it, is I have to say, quite unremarkable, it is exactly as you would expect from any car or van from the VW Group. Without even sitting in it, you just know how it is going to behave, driving characteristics, comfort, all will be impeccable and work so well, because that’s what VW do, and there are no surprises, which sometimes is disappointing, you want a bit of a shock, but not in this car.
At night, you can see clearly the new “Puddle-Lights”, and instead of projecting the company Logo from the door mirrors onto the ground, VW have gone with showing what looks like a Golf-ball with the dimples showing, though a friend who saw it thought it looked more like a disco-glitter-ball, maybe he was right? It did a bit!!
The UK list price for the Golf Life 1.5 is £26,390 OTR.
As always, and has always been, if someone buys a Golf, a new one, two years old, ten years old, it doesn’t matter, and they tell their family, friends or work colleagues, everyone will say “good choice, you can’t go wrong with a Golf” and that just about sums up the steadfast Golf.