A new Volkswagen Golf is always an important event. This, after all, the most popular car in Europe and is Britain’s second most popular family car after the Ford Focus; it’s one of the most desirable, too.
The outgoing version was, for the vast majority of its life, the best family hatchback you could buy, with an unbeatable blend of space, efficiency, practicality, comfort and driving pleasure. And if it’s to retain its crown, the new eighth-generation version will have to fend off challenges from a slew of recently updated contenders, including the Focus, the BMW 1-Series, the Mercedes A-Class and the Toyota Corolla.
We’ve already driven the Mk8 Golf on the international launch at the tail end of 2019, but now, as lockdown eases, we’ve got behind the wheel here in the UK. Read on to find out whether the new Golf is as all-conquering as ever – and don’t forget to register or login to find out our decisive verdict.
Pros: Smart, spacious and tech-laden interior; generous equipment
Cons: Noisy engine; fiddly infotainment; mild hybrid fuel efficiency questionable
What’s under the skin?
At the moment there are six engines to choose from in the Golf range: three petrols, two diesels, and the 1.5-litre mild hybrid petrol we have here.
It kicks out 148bhp, and uses a 48-volt electrical system and a tiny electric motor to generate charge when you’re slowing down, which is then re-used to give a boost to the engine when pulling away from a standstill. The system can also power the ancillary systems like the power steering and climate control for a short amount of time, allowing the engine to turn off completely when you’re coasting at high speed.