All-new Volkswagen Golf: 8th wonder



The eighth-generation Volkswagen Golf is out, and it’s faithful to the iconic hatchback’s mission of forcing expensive car stuff into the mainstream

Volkswagen is taking a swing at the digital world with the all-new Golf. The eighth-generation Volkswagen Golf has just shown its face, and it’s a pleasant, upmarket-looking rendition of a car that has become ubiquitous, and one that helped to bust open the market for Euro hatchbacks in Singapore.

It only goes on sale at home in December, so don’t expect to see the all-new Volkswagen Golf in Singapore until 2020, the middle of the year if we’re lucky but more likely later.

Volkswagen has been amazingly coy about basic information so far, such as the new car’s performance figures, but here are eight things you need to know about Golf 8:

It’s turbo-only

Every engine in the new Golf range is turbocharged (good thing, if you ask us), and at launch the factory is offering four petrols: two three-cylinder 1.0-litre units that offer 90 horsepower or 110hp, and two four-cylinder 1.5-litre engines good for 130hp and 150hp. For Singapore the 130hp 1.5 TSI looks mighty sweet — it sneaks into the Category A end of the certificate of entitlement (COE) classification system, where volumes are higher.

Expect VW’s seven-speed, twin-clutch DSG to handle transmission duties.

There are hybrids galore

Engine-wise the Golf is as comprehensive as it gets: there are petrol, diesel, natural gas (CNG), mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid drives. What’s interesting to us in Singapore is that anything over 110hp will be available with eTSI, VW’s tag for its 48-volt mild hybrid drive system. That means it will have a starter-alternator that should give prolonged engine shutdown during start-stop, a mild assist during acceleration and lots of energy recuperation to feed a small lithium-ion battery.

The system cuts fuel consumption by around 10 percent, which is vital because VW, like other carmakers, is scrambling to meet a 95g/km carbon dioxide fleet average output requirement that goes into force in 2021.

Why’s that interesting to us? Because the eTSI system might give the Golf 8 a shot at getting a rebate under the Vehicular Emissions Scheme here. If so, that will mean a S$10,000 rebate for buyers.

The plug-in Golf GTE variant (pictured above) looks hot, with 204 hp or 245hp versions available. Admit it, you’re intrigued.

It comes with five doors, or five doors

Not that it matters in Singapore, but the Golf has lost its three-door variant. The reason? Cost streamlining (or cutting). The previous Golf had a bewildering line-up of variations and options overseas, and this one’s been rationalised. “We have analysed customer needs and eliminated less popular variants, such as the three-door version,” says Karlheinz Hell, the compact cars development chief at VW. “This enabled us to reduce the number of variants by 35 percent compared to the Golf 7.”

The Golf 8 is roughly the same size as the current car, at 4,284mm long (versus 4,258mm for the Golf 7) and 1,789mm wide (10mm narrower), with a wheelbase just 1mm shorter, at 2,636mm. Interestingly, it’s 1,456mm tall, making its roof 36mm lower than before, no doubt for a sportier side profile.

We’re guessing it’s a bit bigger in the back than the BMW 1 Series or Mercedes A-Class.

It’ll drive for you (partially)
Golfs have always been about democratising tech from expensive cars, and the eighth-generation model continues this mission. It’s available with Travel Assist, which lets it do most of the driving for you (although you’re still required to pay attention and keep a light touch on the controls).

Using the active cruise control system (which locks onto the car ahead for speed regulation) and lane keep assist (which lets the car steer itself to stay within lane markings), the Travel Assist system handles much of the driving duties and should take plenty of stress out of that morning jam to work. And the evening jam home.

Scarily, this driver assistance stuff works all the way up to 210km/h.

Physical buttons are so last century

The cabin looks nearly bereft of physical buttons, with digital screens and touch-sensitive pads taking over control. What Volkswagen Group Singapore will make available here will be determined in time (we’re betting the bewildering process hasn’t even gotten underway yet) but the Digital Cockpit in VW-speak — meaning digital instruments within a 10.25-inch screen — is standard.

There’s an 8.25-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system, but the Innovision Cockpit is the one you want if you’re a flashy git. It adds the Discover Pro navigation system’s 10-inch screen to make everything digital. Still not digital enough? A head-up display is available, too.

If you’re in a VW showroom have a look at the Touareg, VW’s flagship model for Singapore, to see this idea at work.

Voice control? Maybe
Still on the theme of moving premium car features into the mainstream, the new Golf is making a voice control system based on natural language use available. Say “hello” to “Hello, Volkswagen.” That’s the magic phrase that wakes it up and allows you to control the car’s various features with spoken commands.

Whether it’s going to be available here is still anyone’s guess, but it will require an e-SIM to give the Golf an internet connection. But doing enables a number of other functions in VW’s “We Connect” suite of services: using your mobile phone as a key, a vehicle health report, driving data, parking position info, servicing reminders and so on. 

There are three different LED headlamp versions

Believe it or not, VW is offering the new Golf with three different LED headlight options. The top-of-the-range stuff (ostensibly for safety but also relevant because drivers in Singapore think of headlamps as jewels) is a LED matrix light that VW calls IQ.LIGHT.

Each headlight in the system has 22 LEDs, which in turn allows up to ten different light functions that take into account the other cars around you. It also comes with a sliding turn indicator, which is what you really wanted to know. 

It’ll offer up to 300 horsepower
Next year the hot stuff will show up, meaning the new Golf GTI and Golf R. VW says when the Golf engine range is fully rolled out the most powerful one will have 300hp. That’s the kind of democracy we really like to see.

about the author

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Leow Julen
Leow Ju-Len is a lot older than he behaves. He's been writing about cars for 25 years. Someday he might do it coherently. Ju-Len believes in world peace and V8s, but not necessarily in that order.