New Volkswagen Golf kick-starts a hybrid offensive

With all of the bluster about the Volkswagen ID.3 taking up so many column inches lately, the brand new Mk8 Golf could quite easily have been overlooked. However, it has now made its world première to great fanfare at the brands HQ in Wolfsburg, Germany. With the Mk8, Volkswagen is promising a Golf that is more digitised, connected, intuitive and fundamentally more progressive than any previous iteration.

A big part of achieving these goals is resting on the shoulders of five new hybrid drive options – the start of a big hybrid offensive for Volkswagen. Alongside this, new styling, technology and dynamics that take the venerable MBQ platform to new levels have been implemented with the aim of continuing the Golf's 40 year iconic status.

Hybrid powertrains

Let's get the bit we're most interested in out of the way first: The Mk8 Golf will be available from launch with five hybrid options. Three of these utilise mild hybrid (MHEV) tech, with the remaining two using PHEV powertrains offered in two states of tune – the more powerful getting the GTE badge.

Mild hybrid variants get 48 volt technology which matches 48 V starter/generator and a new-generation lithium-ion battery with VW's efficient TSI engines. These cars will wear the eTSI badge and, compared to their non-MHEV counterparts, are around 10 per cent more efficient. The three power output options are 109bhp, 129bhp and 147bhp and all come exclusively with the seven-speed, automatic DSG gearbox.

The PHEV options take on the mantle from the Mk7, offering higher power outputs and a sportier setup; they will wear the eHybrid badge. Both get a 13kWh lithium-ion battery which is good for around 37 miles in EV mode, and a 1.4-litre TSI engine with power sent through a six-speed DSG 'box. Two power levels are available, with the standard eHybrid getting 201bhp and the GTE a GTI-rivalling 241bhp.

Revised exterior styling

VW hasn't tossed out the rule book and gone mad with the new Golf; it's very much an evolution of the Mk7, which still looks pretty fresh as it is. LED lighting is a big feature of the exterior, and all the other modifications have resulted in a respectably low drag coefficient of 0.275.

Of course, the best way of understanding what the Mk8 looks like is by taking a peek at the image carousel above, but VW has emphasised its desire to design-in dynamism to the shape whilst maintaining the Golf's characteristic lines. A high waistline accentuates the lower portion of the car, meaning the decently large glasshouse area doesn't detract from the overall look of the car.

At the front the radiator grille has been minimised in size, with a deep undercut chin area dominating front end. A sharp style line runs from this, through the headlamps and continues down the length of the car, helping to connect all of the styling aspects from front to back.

Connected on the inside

It's almost a given nowadays that the driver area has been cockpit-ised, with the various displays and infotainment systems merging to form a digital cockpit which is standard across all spec levels. Despite all of the tech, VW has kept the human element at the core of everything, ensuring that all of the controls and functions are self-explanatory. Three-zone climate control and a Harman Kardon sound system should keep things cosy inside.

Voice control will be available, along with Alexa – so you'll be able to utilise many of the functions of a home-based Alexa system on the move. You'll even be able to integrate your in-car Alexa with the one in your house – though are they the same Alexa...? That existential question aside, you can now have an almost omnipresent digital companion, should that be your thing.

Of course, there is a very high level of connectivity with We Connect and We Connect Plus functions enabling over-the-air music streaming, internet radio and much more. Functions can be added as they come available, or retrospectively. VW states that the Mk8 Golf is always on, which is either very handy in streamlining your personal digital experience, or potentially terrifying in allowing the web to plunder every corner of your life. Depending on how you look at it of course...

Smart safety

Safety tech is developing extremely fast, especially active technology, thanks to advances in sensors and autonomous functionality. VW's new Golf is no exception and comes with a range of safety assistance technologies.

Travel Assist is essentially an advanced version of radar-guided cruise control which does everything traditional systems can do, and adds lane guidance into the mix. It works at Autobahn-friendly speeds of up to 130mph but is very much a hands-on affair; take your hands off the wheel for more than 15 seconds and the car will bring itself to a halt. Adaptive cruise control (ACC) uses locational data to slow the car in advance of corners or conurbations when it's in operation, reading speed limits along the way to ensure no laws are accidentally broken.

Front assist keeps a virtual eye out for pedestrians, cyclists and other obstacles and oncoming vehicle braking when turning helps negate cut-across manoeuvres. Of particular note is Car2X which is a connected system that can communicate with other Car2X-enabled vehicles within an 800 metre radius to share local hazards. Accidents, broken down vehicles, traffic jams, roadworks and nearby emergency vehicles are all registered and shared with the intention of aiding drivers in avoiding such situations.

Available imminently

The Mk8 Volkswagen Golf will be available on the market in December this year, and what a nice Christmas present it would make. Pricing details will be announced in due course, and we'll bring you those, and the UK-specific spec levels and tech details as soon as we have them.

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