It could be argued that the reason why the Volkswagen Golf has been so successful is that it has been able to appeal to those looking for a conventional family car, as well as those who wish to opt for a pricier premium hatchback. This means it must compete with a huge range of rivals, but it seems to do so pretty well given that by now Volkswagen has produced the 8th-generation.
So, what does the newest version of this timeless classic have to offer?
Well, as always, it’s impressively practical – just what you want from a family hatch. And of course, the German carmaker has made sure it has kept up to date with all the latest tech, such as mild-hybrid assistance which is available on the 1.0 eTSI and 148bhp 1.5 eTSI engines to provide improved performance and efficiency.
Drive quality and comfort
If you plan on a lot of driving around town you’ll love the light steering, however, you’ll find it doesn’t have the same precision or responsiveness as the BMW 1 Series or the Ford Focus when navigating faster, twister country lanes for example.
For the class, the Golfs suspension and ride quality is fairly standard, however, if you wish to go all out you could opt for the pricey Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) which is available on any trim level and is essentially adaptive suspension, giving you the choice of ‘Comfort’ ‘Normal’ and ‘Sport’. ‘Comfort’ takes this model from standard to one of the smoothest-riding cars in the segment.
You will find a comfortable driving position thanks to the range of seat and steering wheel adjustment on offer and there is a cushioned moveable centre armrest too. Lumbar adjustment is standard on all models, however, the sports seats found in any trim level from ‘Style’ upwards offer far more support and are comfier than those offered in the entry-level ‘Life’ trim.
Unfortunately, a lot of dashboard functions have been moved in the more premium trim levels and can only be controlled through the central touchscreen which always feels a little fiddly when having to take your eye off the road for the simplest of adjustments. Thankfully, ‘Life’, ‘Active’ and ‘Style’ trims still offer physical controls on the steering wheel which is linked with the digital instrument cluster.
All models include the 10inch infotainment system which provides access to built-in sat-nav, Bluetooth, wireless phone charging and Apple Carplay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring. However, while the system looks the part, it’s not as user friendly as the one found in the Mercedes A-Class or the BMW 1 series.
Large pillars at the rear obstruct visibility quite a lot but Volkswagen has ensured that front and rear sensors are standard on all trims, with an optional rear-view camera too.
Interior quality and space
The interior quality still gives family car rivals such as the Ford Focus a run for its money, however, it now seems to be lagging behind the likes of the Mazda 3, BMW 1 Series and Mercedes A-Class.
In terms of space, headroom is very generous in both the front and rear and legroom isn’t too bad either provided you don’t have 6 footers in all seats at the same time. It also starts to feel a little tight with 3 passengers in the back, but we assume you would opt for a different segment altogether if you planned on driving with 4 adult-sized passengers on a regular basis.
There is a standard 60/40 rear seat split, as well as a handy ski hatch that allows you to keep the outer seats up while carrying extra-long items.
Boot size is standard for the class with 380 litres with the seats up and 1,237 litres with them down. There is a handy height-adjustable floor which when raised means there is barely a lip to struggle past when lugging heavy items in or out.
All in all, we would still recommend the Volkswagen Golf as a great all-rounder to many drivers shopping in the family car segment. However, potential buyers must be made aware that there are now cheaper rivals offering more space and a slightly better drive such as the Ford Focus. Likewise, there are also some newer premium rivals such as the BMW 1 Series and Mercedes A-Class which offer a more user-friendly infotainment system and a plusher interior.
You may also like our review of the Ford Kuga.