In-depth reviews

Volkswagen Golf review - Interior, design and technology

There’s a subtle exterior design, but the cabin is crammed full of new tech and useful features.

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Interior, design and technology Rating

4.0 out of 5

Price
£21,465 to £37,710
  • New mild-hybrid powertrain
  • Comfortable
  • Excellent safety levels
  • High list prices
  • Road noise and engine drone
  • Cabin doesn't feel as premium

The overall profile of the Mk8 model is still unmistakably Golf, with the thinner front grille and narrow headlights the parts most radically refreshed. The car definitely has a cleaner look, but the front-end may take a bit of getting used to.

Inside, Volkswagen has adopted more touchscreen tech, with the Digital Cockpit Pro set-up as standard and gesture control for the infotainment system. It all looks rather smart and chic, but still retains the functional feel of the brand - you know you’re sitting in a Golf.

However, there are some niggly downsides - our testers were at odds with the touch-sensitive slider below the main screen that controls the audio volume and cabin temperature. In isolation it works fine - but it’s positioned exactly where you’ll rest your hand as you try to interact with the display, so you could end up warming the cabin instead of selecting your preferred audio track. 

A more worrying issue for potential customers is overall trim quality, a feature which has normally elevated the Golf well above its rivals. There are many more hard surfaces in the cabin than you’d expect, to the point where the inside is now no different in perceived quality to cheaper rivals such as the Ford Focus and SEAT Leon.

Entry-level cars benefit from 16-inch alloy wheels and body-coloured bumpers, door handles and side mirrors, while the LED headlights add to the fresh design. Stepping up to Style trim brings further body-coloured and chrome trim, along with a funky LED light strip running across the top of the radiator grille. The R-Line versions receive a sporty styling pack and rear privacy glass, while the GTD, GTE and GTI cars include bigger wheels, keyless entry, along with unique interior and exterior trim.

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment

The Golf features a 10-inch touchscreen display as standard, although you can upgrade to Volkswagen’s Pro system for an extra £1,600. The base Life trim also includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, along with sat-nav and wireless charging. The graphics and response to inputs are as good as on the SEAT Leon’s set-up, while the menu layout and shortcuts for different functions are slightly more logical.

As mentioned above, the touch inputs to control audio volume and temperature aren’t perfect, although the digital screen in the Golf looks less lost in its housing than the Leon’s, and the connectivity all works with reassuring ease.

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