Launching the latest version of the ever-popular Volkswagen Golf this year has marked two anniversaries for the German car maker.
It is 75 years since a 28-year-old British Army Major, Ivan Hirst, was given responsibility for leading the reshaping of VW’s largely destroyed Wolfsburg plant back into a civilian car factory. By the time Hirst left there was a modern factory, ready to go, with a labour force, a German management and a product that was proven. That product was the iconic Beetle, and that German management and workforce made VW a worldwide automotive success story.
The latest Golf is in its eight generation 45 years since it first launched. It has become a classless car loved by everyone from ordinary families to the rich and famous. Golf 8 starts at €26,143 (£23,300) on-the-road for the lead-in Life model with a perky 1.0-litre TSi engine under the bonnet.
Standard fare includes climate control, powered and heated door mirrors, automatic lights and wipers plus automatic dimming rear view mirror, alloy wheels, navigation and a plethora of safety kit.
Three petrol engines – 110 hp,1.0-litre 3-cylinder and 130 hp or 150 hp 1.5-litre 4- cylinder – plus a 1.5-litre mild hybrid and 115 hp or 150 hp 2.0-litre diesel. Transmissions are 6-speed manual or 7-speed DSG dual clutch automatic.
Despite some noticeable minor cost-cutting measures – the lack of a gas strut on the bonnet, no cover over the cup holders in the centre console, visible key apertures on the door handles and a few others – there is still that solid, durable and quality feel to this latest Golf.
It has gone far too digital for some, although I’m sure VW would argue that the system makes for a more efficient driver experience. However, to me the system is not as intuitive as it could be and, until you’re fully used to it, it can feel like a distraction.
On the road performance brings no complaints with my 115 hp 2.0-litre diesel providing a good turn of speed when required and impressive fuel consumption. Despite being a ‘dirty’ diesel it is now one of the cleanest units available with major reductions in nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions.
With its smartly evolved design there is no mistaking this is a Golf, it retains that certain something special on the style front which appeals to so many drivers. At its price point the new Golf needed to deliver….it does!
Facts at a Glance
- Model: Volkswagen Golf Life
- Engine: 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder, turbocharged diesel
- Gears: 6-Speed manual
- Price: €27,938 (£24,900)
- Performance: 0-100 kmh (62 mph) 10.2 seconds/Maximum Speed 202 kmh (126 mph)
- Economy: 4.1l/100km (68.8 mpg) Combined driving
- Emissions: 108 g/km
Model tested was UK-specification and equipment levels and prices may vary in other markets.