The Volkswagen Golf Mk 8 has been officially unveiled after months of spy photos and weeks of image leaks – revealing the most daring update in decades to one of Europe’s biggest selling cars.
While the silhouette of the Volkswagen Golf retains its familiar looks, the 2020 model is roomier than before while still able to fit in the same size parking space as its predecessor.
The sleeker and slimmer headlights – with pronounced ‘spears’ that taper into the front fenders – are the easiest way to identify the eighth-generation model, which is in fact all-new despite retaining similar dimensions as the current model.
Significantly, Volkswagen has resisted the urge to give the new Golf a sleeker, lower, and less practical roofline – such as the new generation Toyota Corolla, Mazda3 and Ford Focus hatchbacks have done.
These three rival brands have attempted to turn their hatchbacks into low-slung models with more sporting flair – even if it means back seat roominess and boot space have been sacrificed – based on the rationale that buyers who need more room are shifting to SUVs.
But Volkswagen is keeping the faith by delivering a roomier, conventional hatchback while promising to maintain class-leading comfort and road-holding – which could end up being a masterstroke as sales of sleeker and smaller hatchback rivals are in decline.
For those interested in the finer details, the new Golf is 4284mm long, 1789mm wide, 1456mm tall, and has a 2636mm wheelbase. Compared to the outgoing car, the eighth-generation model is 26mm longer, 10mm narrower, 4mm taller and has a 16mm longer wheelbase.
In Europe the Golf will be available with a new range of super-efficient petrol engines and two plug-in hybrids. However, as these engines are equipped with petrol particulate filters, Australia’s fuel quality means the shiny new Golf will in fact be powered by the same 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine already in showrooms today.
It is unclear if this version of the engine will get a power bump or a fuel economy boost, but for now Volkswagen Australia will stick with proven engine technology.
Although the GTI wasn't revealed today (though it is expected to share similar looks to the GTE, pictured above), hot hatch fans are in for a treat, with plans to launch the high-performance Golf GTI locally at the same time as the regular Golf range, which has never happened before in Australia.
Most Golf GTI hatchbacks to this point have gone on sale about 12 months or more after the local arrival of the regular line-up.
Volkswagen Australia is yet to announce exact timing and pricing of the new Golf, however a representative for the company says it should arrive in local showrooms in late 2020, about 12 months from now.
Overseas markets will get a choice of two power outputs for the Golf GTI, but examples sold in Australia will carry over the sole 180kW/370Nm version of the 2.0-litre turbo that arrived with the Golf GTI Mk 7.5 update – and will retain a mechanical limited-slip differential and larger brakes shared with the all-wheel-drive Golf R.
Above: Golf R-Line.
It is unclear if a manual transmission will make a comeback on the new Golf GTI, but CarAdvice expects it will continue to be an automatic-only proposition given the extra cost involved in certifying a manual transmission variant solely for the Australian market given its unique fuel requirements.
A manual GTI will likely be available overseas, however Volkswagen Australia argues the exclusion of a stick shift has not hurt GTI sales; before it was dropped from the local line-up the manual accounted for less than 10 per cent of the sales mix.
Meanwhile, the flagship Golf R hot hatch is not likely to arrive in Australian showrooms until 2021. Power output and other key details are yet to be revealed.
Overseas models will come standard with a super-wide 10.0-inch touchscreen infotainment display, and a 10.25-inch customisable instrumentation screen. Wireless Apple CarPlay will be available on some models.
Traditional physical buttons have been significantly reduced, with the majority living on the steering wheel, around the stubby gear shifter, and surrounding the electric window switches.
There are capacitive sliders and buttons under the touchscreen for the climate control system, while a similar set of sliders resides on the ceiling console for the sunroof. A pod of capacitive buttons for headlights and demisters resides next to the instrumentation display.
In Europe, the Golf will be fitted with an eSIM as standard, meaning it will be constantly online and capable of receiving over-the-air software updates. It is unclear if this will be available locally.
Detailed information about local equipment levels are slim at this early stage. The only clues coming from Volkswagen Australia are it will come with a “comprehensive” safety package, which is set to include autonomous emergency braking and other advanced tech.
Volkswagen Australia will no doubt be counting down to the arrival of the new model; sales of the current Golf are down by 26 per cent so far this year in a market that has declined by 12 per cent.
In the meantime, Volkswagen continues to offer sharp prices on the soon-to-be-superseded model.
The Golf Trendline automatic starts from $26,990 drive-away. This is about $3000 more than the Golf’s previous lowest price over the past two years after Volkswagen dropped the $23,990 Golf TSI base model.
However, until the end of October, Volkswagen is also offering a zero deposit, 2.99 per cent finance deal on the sharp drive-away price. Sometimes low interest finance deals require buyers to pay full retail for the car, evaporating the savings, but not in this case.
Meanwhile the Golf GTI is currently available for $47,990 drive-away and the Golf R is from $54,990 drive-away. However, the performance models are not available with the 2.99 per cent finance offer of the more affordable versions. Instead, the finance rate on the current Golf GTI and Golf R is a much less attractive 9.08 per cent.