JCT600 reviews… the Volkswagen Golf 8

Words by Tom Swain | Photo and video by Miles Charlesworth

Three things are certain in life. Death, taxes, and the new Golf being good. But with more competition in a crowded hatchback market than ever before, where exactly does the latest version of the Volkswagen Golf rank?

Check out our review of the Volkswagen Golf 8 for our verdict…

The exterior

Check out our exclusive images and you’ll see that the model we tested wore a pretty stunning shade of yellow. Volkswagen call it Lime Yellow, in fact. Greeny yellow then? It’s definitely bright, and with so many grey, black, silver, and white cars on the roads these days, it’s a refreshing change when you pull up to the traffic lights.

The design is still unmistakably Golf, but VW have done a great job of updating the look to make it fresh and modern. From the front, the flat-top headlight clusters are full of intent and aggression, while the rear end is a sensible progression from the already-attractive design on the previous Golf.

There’s a great choice of alloy wheels throughout the Golf 8 range, but the 18-inch Dallas wheels on the model we tested would definitely be the ones to go for if you’re spec’ing from factory.

Is there anything not to like? Well, there’s been chatter in some quarters that the new Golf might not be quite as pretty as the car it replaces. It’s a totally subjective topic, obviously, but for me, Golf 8 looks more grown-up than ever before. And as the ‘go to’ family hatchback, that means it’ll fit right in outside family homes across the country.

But if you’re at all undecided about the way the new Golf looks, I’d urge you to go see it in the flesh. Oh, and don’t be afraid of Lime Yellow.

The interior

The Golf has always been a fantastic proposition when it comes to interior quality, comfort, and tech. On this latest version, quality and comfort remain excellent, but it’s the technology where Volkswagen has really done the most work.

Gone are the traditional dials behind the steering wheel, replaced with a digital dash screen. And that goes for every single new Golf, regardless of spec or price. That’s a nice touch from VW. “Welcome to the future,” they’re saying. “It’s digital, regardless of what you’re looking to spend.”

The information displayed on the digital dash is super clear, and super customisable. Cycle through a handful of display ‘styles’, from digital interpretations of conventional speedometers and rev counters, to large, minimalistic numbers displayed simply against the black background.

The drive

‘The new Golf drives really well’ is perhaps the most obvious sentence in the world. But it doesn’t mean it’s any less true. Steering feels super sharp, and there’s absolutely no concerns when it comes to placing the car on the road. This is no sports car, but drive it a little harder and the Golf 8 grabs apexes and jets out of corners with ease. A good omen for the incoming Golf GTI.

As you’d expect, there’s a good choice of engines, from peppy 1.0-litre petrols to brawny 2.0-litre diesels on the higher models. Mild hybrid tech is available too, enhancing the fuel-sipping credentials of the already-efficient petrols.

The gear change on the six-speed manual transmission is slick and secure, and the renowned 7-speed DSG fulfils the auto ‘box option if you prefer to give your left foot the rest it craves.

The rivals

Hatchbacks have always reigned supreme, offering drivers an irresistible blend of economy, space, comfort, and driving dynamics. Perhaps the Golf was the original great hatch, but it’s definitely not alone in its genre these days.

The latest SEAT Leon, for example, injects a bit of that Spanish flair, while the new A3 continues Audi’s impressive run of premium family hatchbacks. Move beyond the Volkswagen Group and the fantastic Peugeot 308 comes sharply into view, along with the beautiful Mazda3, and impressive Mercedes-Benz A-Class.

The purchase

Pricing for the Golf 8 kicks off at £23,300 for the Life model with 1.0-litre petrol engine, topping out at £26,390 for an R-Line model with 1.5-litre petrol hybrid.

Residual values on Volkswagen Golf will always be strong, since it’s a great all-rounder with premium materials, a sought-after badge, and a good reputation for driving dynamics. That means that there are already some great new car deals to be had on Golf 8, including impressive finance deals with surprisingly low monthly repayments.

The verdict

No one is calling the new Golf a cheap option, and at £23,300, you’d expect to get decent value for money. Fortunately, that’s the case, with alloy wheels, digital dash and touchscreen infotainment as standard on every single new Golf.

The high quality interior makes the car a genuinely nice place to spend time, and it’s great to drive too. Could it be a little more interesting to look at from the outside? Possibly, but Volkswagen know what they’re doing, and the Golf is a really great car.

Golf 8 is still the clear choice for buyers looking for a tried-and-tested, versatile, good looking family car. It’s just that the others are catching up quick.

Ready to explore the new Volkswagen Golf? Book a test drive with one of our dealerships in Bradford, Hull, Sheffield, Wakefield or York, or browse new and nearly new vehicles in stock right now!

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