2020 Volkswagen Golf Mk8 review: No longer a match?

The new Golf is a capable car, but does it still lead the class?


A new Volkswagen Golf, like a new Porsche 911, is always intriguing. History tells you that though the new car may look almost indistinguishable from the last, beneath that familiar skin, enormous progress is likely. Promising little and delivering lots is one reason that these cars have performed well in the market and done wonders for the reputation of their makers for generations.

Minor changes to this eighth-generation Golf’s appearance are not to my taste, especially around the squared-off back, but such things are for the beholder to decide. Inside, the driving environment had gone all glossy and digital, which looks great in photos but is less easy and intuitive than the last. A Golf putting form ahead of function? It’ll be the end of the world next.

I drove a manual 1.5-litre petrol model – and it rode, handled and performed very well, as does the similarly specified seventh generation Golf that’s served as Frankel family transport these last three years. And that doesn’t strike me as quite good enough, particularly as this model is the cheapest you can buy with proper, independent rear suspension. This new Golf is good but others – the new Ford Focus in particular – are closer than they have ever been. Its claim to being the best in its class is more vulnerable now than at any time in the last 15 years.

Volkswagen Golf 1.5TSI 150PS Style

Price £26,095
Engine 1.5 litres, 4 cylinders, turbo
Power 148bhp at 5000rpm
Weight 1340kg
Power to weight 110bhp per tonne
Transmission six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
0-60mph 8.5sec
Top speed 139mph
Economy 50.2mpg
CO₂ 125g/km
Verdict Good, but not perfect

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