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.
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. Top-of-the-range R-Line versions receive a sporty styling pack and rear privacy glass.
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.
In this review
- 1Volkswagen Golf reviewThe Mk8 Golf offers cleaner engines, an updated interior and the latest on-board tech, but it can’t quite reach the top of the class.
- 2Engines, performance and driveVolkswagen offers the Golf with new mild-hybrid tech, along with its usual blend of strong, refined petrol and diesel engines.
- 3MPG, CO2 and running costsMild-hybrid petrol engines help boost efficiency, while improved diesel units offer buyers lower emissions and more range.
- 4Interior, design and technology - currently readingThere’s a subtle exterior design, but the cabin is crammed full of new tech and useful features.
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceIt’s a case of ‘as you were’ for the Mk8 Golf, with first-rate levels of comfort and just enough practicality.
- 6Reliability and safetyThe new Golf is as safe as ever, but Volkswagen will want improved customer satisfaction.