By on October 24, 2019

Image: VW

While it remains to be seen whether non-performance versions of the next-generation Volkswagen Golf make their way to the U.S. (Canadians can expect the basic unit), Europeans now know exactly what to expect.

Launching Thursday at the brand’s Wolfsburg, Germany home base, the new Golf comes packed with technology while retaining the unmistakable profile of Golfs past. Like Jeep’s Wrangler, the Golf isn’t something to be tinkered with by some brash youngster with “big new ideas.” It’s a product of evolution, not revolution.

That said, there’s plenty of new things here, including a 48-volt mild hybrid powertrain available in three power flavors. There’s plug-in hybrids, as well, giving buyers an electric option that might be more in tune with their lifestyles than the upcoming ID.3 electric car (or the e-Golf it replaces).


For the model’s eighth generation, the three-door bodystyle seen since the Golf’s inception disappears, with four side doors becoming the order of the day. Depending on market, buyers will also find small three- or four-cylinder engines drinking gasoline or diesel, sans all of that electrified flippery. Two 1.0-liter three-bangers and two 1.5-liter four-bangers join a 2.0-liter diesel for those who feel hybrids just aren’t for them; to the dismay of American purists who can look but can’t touch, these customers will be stuck with slick six-speed manuals in everything but the oil-burning model.

Things are different overseas.

But it’s the mild hybrid system that’s the star here, and it deserves a bit of attention. The engine range employs a belt starter-generator that uses recaptured electrical power to aid the Golf’s takeoffs. It also shuts the engine down while coasting and braking, boosting MPG gains. These “eTSI” units arrive in three flavors, from 109 to 148 horsepower, with the automaker claiming a 10-percent reduction in fuel consumption on the European WLTP cycle.

In mild hybrid models, a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic controls the power flowing to the front wheels.


Things get interesting with the GTE plug-ins, as this is where performance enters the picture. Both PHEVs pair VW’s familiar 1.4-liter with an electric motor and 13 kWh battery pack; VW hasn’t estimated what range owners might get from their part-time EVs. Power, depending on market, will be either 201 hp or 241 hp.

Riding atop the latest version of the brand’s MQB platform, the new Golf remains a Golf both in appearance and in size. The slimmer, revamped headlights and mouthier lower fascia are the most notable changes, and the whole affair now stretches just over an inch longer between bumpers. It’s four-tenths of an inch narrower that its predecessor, and eight-tenths of an inch lower. Wheelbase remains basically the same.

Unlike the recent Jetta, the Golf’s suspension carries over — MacPherson setup up front; multi-link in the rear. Those who are quick to toss their Golfs around might notice an improved steering feel, one VW claims offers more feedback.

Inside, it’s digital galore. Most controls have gone the modern route, meaning you’d best get used to using menus and digital slider controls. A 12.25-inch digital display replaces the gauge cluster; on the center stack resides either an 8.0 or 10-inch touchscreen.


Deeper in the car, beyond those screens and shiny buttons, lies VW’s “Car2X” car-to-car technology. With this setup, the Golf “talks” to surrounding vehicles and infrastructure, relaying useful info back to the driver via the information display.

“The new Golf is also the first Volkswagen to connect with its environment as standard, via Car2X: signals from the traffic infrastructure and information from other vehicles up to 800 metres away are notified to the driver via a display,” the automaker stated. “The Golf also shares these warnings with other Car2X models.”

Going on sale early next year, the basic eighth-gen Golf may be a no-show in the U.S., with company brass staying mum on the likelihood of non-performance (read: non-GTI or R) variants making the boat trip. Golf sales suffered badly in recent years, with buyers increasingly gravitating to the higher-end sporting models.

[Images: Volkswagen]

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26 Comments on “2020 Volkswagen Golf: Eighth-generation Hatch Ditches Three-door Model, Adds Electricity...”

  • avatar

    I think it looks great, and those wheels are super sharp. But to the left of the steering wheel, see those little icons above the dash vent? That’s a flat touch panel that controls headlights, rear defroster, and a few other functions. Trusting that to a touch panel…yeah, not a fan.

    • 0 avatar

      Those wheels would be on eBay shortly after taking delivery if that were my car. Which is exactly what happened to the fugly stock wheels of my 2015 Golf R.

      • 0 avatar
        R Henry

        I too find contemporary factory wheel designs quite unpleasant, particularly on mid-level Japanese cars. The wheels on this GTI share the most grating feature—gloss black paint on the secondary surfaces combined with polished aluminum on the primary surfaces. The sharp color contrast, along with lots of sharp 90 degree angles within the castings, to be hard on my eyes! From my perspective, 2020 Camry SE and Accord Sports are among the worst.

  • avatar

    I’m sad about the loss of the 3 door model.

    • 0 avatar

      Me too. Not everyone needs or wants a 5 door. And the whole idea of a “hot-hatch” screams 3 door to me.

      • 0 avatar

        Right on the “hot hatch” designation.

        I give the Hyundai Velocter with its weird arrangement of doors a pass and define it as a “hot hatch” but that’s because the extra door is not that useful.

    • 0 avatar

      They nixed it a few years ago for North America. I prefer the larger windows, and unobtrusive b-pillar of the 3-door model.

      Anyway, VW dumped their 6-year warranty already, and the plaid seats + sunroof combo in the GTI was a unicorn only available for 2018. Glad I got mine when I did, no reason to darken the doorstep of a VW dealer again.

    • 0 avatar

      Same here, although it’s academic for those of us in the U. S. A.

      I had a 3 door Mk II GTI, and enjoyed it a lot. If I could have one car from my past, I do believe that GTI is what I’d take.

  • avatar

    Every time I catch myself considering a 3-door, I remember just how miserable they are in tight parking spots, carrying passengers, reaching for seatbelts, side protection, etc. and suddenly that extra door seam does’t seem like such a big deal.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    Attention Japanese: This is how you style a car.

  • avatar

    Two nits to pick:

    1. I’m having a hard time with the front end. It’s not horrible, but I prefer the MK7 front end. I suspect it’s one of those things that will look better in person than in photos;

    2. I come from the technology world, but I’m just not a fan of touch-screening all the things. Buttons and knobs are just flat out better for things like HVAC and audio. I get where VW is going with this, but I’ll be a luddite on this topic.

    Otherwise, looks like…well…what a Golf should look like. That rear 3/4 view is very sharp and to me, is the best angle I’ve seen so far.

    Won’t get me to give up my MK7 GTI, but I suspect that it will do its job as the F-150 of Europe.

    Side note: I find the manufacturing side of the MK8 fascinating. VW was able to carry over a very significant amount of the machining and tooling and cut down on a lot of the manufacturing waste inherent to the first generation MQB product. I recall reading several years ago that VW was frustrated with higher than expected manufacturing costs during the MQB rollout. I suspect that like with the MK6 Golf, they used this as an opportunity to streamline and simplify the assembly process.

    • 0 avatar

      #1 – check for me
      #2 – check for me. Germany and electronics don’t mix well

      And together, even more reasons not to buy it

    • 0 avatar

      The side note is interesting. Does VW plan its pipeline like Intel, around a kind of “tick-tock” (aka – one generation introduces a new architecture, and the following one optimizes it)? It seems that’s what they’re doing here, and did with the Mk5 and Mk6 generations.

  • avatar

    Looks great but not a fan of the interior and that stubby shifter. One of VW’s best points was the simple, no-nonsense interior controls, now they’ve thrown that out the window!

  • avatar

    You vill like cheapo touch screens replacing instruments and switches, because they are so cheap to make! iPhones and Samsungs are overpriced by a factor of about 10 if you take a look at what the rest of the world is offered by Chinese makes. And they’re making money hand over fist themselves. So, no more nice dashes for anyone, it’ll all be flash touch screens soon.

  • avatar

    Exterior design, is the polar opposite of the current Honda Civic.
    VW understands that less is more.

  • avatar
    Bill Wade

    I’m glad I got my Sportwagen S manual last year.

  • avatar

    The car looks very nice, especially the cockpit.

    The lack of airconditioning controls does not bother me because the new Golf has a voice control system onboard similar to Mercedes-Benzes MBXU system. There is no need to physically touch the screen. The driver or passenger simply gives voice commands to the system and it will comply. To me this is an improvement in safety as the driver can focus on driving and will not have to physically engage the airconditioning controls, which may prove distracting.

  • avatar

    I love my mk7 3-door. I’m glad I snapped it up before they discontinued it. I knew it was gonna happen. 3-door hatches just aren’t popular anymore.

  • avatar

    VW alloy wheels are some of the most disappointing efforts in the business.

    And I do not like the soft corporate front end…I hope they left some room to grill it out for the GTI’s intercooler.

  • avatar

    Isn’t Etsy the online shop devoted to twee tschotkis? Well, it makes sense. The new Golf is twee.

  • avatar

    Why did they have to make it look so depressing and dumpy though? Bright colors can’t fix those eyes.

  • avatar

    I have a Mk 7.5 after owning a Mk 6 and Mk 7. Great cars all, each one better than the next. Looking forward to the Mk 8!

    But not excited about all the touch screen controls – they are a bitch to keep clean.

  • avatar

    That electric naming convention seems like a bad ID.

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