Volkswagen Golf Mk 8 vs Golf Mk7 – what’s changed?

May 24, 2022 by

The Volkswagen Golf is all the car anyone will ever need. It’s practical, comfortable, well equipped and well made; and that’s been the case for decades. The latest Mk8 Golf came out back in 2020, but how does it compare to the Mk7 which came before? 

You can pick up a Mk7 Golf on the second hand market for a good price these days, but would you want to? This guide will walk you through the key differences between the Mk8 Golf and its predecessor.

Design

Volkswagen Golf Mk8 vs Mk7 dimensions
Car Length Width (inc’ door mirrors) Height Wheelbase
Volkswagen Golf Mk8 4,396mm 2,073mm 2,011mm 2619mm
Volkswagen Golf Mk7 4,255mm 3,696mm 1,763mm 2,637mm
The Mk8 Golf gets some new headlights and a slimmer front end

Put the old car and the new side by side, and the looks of the new car are undeniably those of a Golf, but some of the changes for the new car are less successful than others.

The Mk7 Golf has a much more simple design

Both cars are actually based upon the same platform, so the dimensions are much of a muchness, while the rear end and profile are all very similar. There are new chrome-effect treatments on the Mk8, and the rear bumper features a couple of false tailpipes, but it’s cohesive enough on the whole.

The nose is where the biggest differences lie, and here the new Golf is undeniably less elegant than its predecessor. The appearance is that of a mono-brow frown, although apparently the sloping bonnet does make the new car more aerodynamic.

Interior and equipment

This is where the new Golf has made a huge stride ahead of the old car. Where the Mk7 had numerous buttons, a central screen and traditional layout, the new model has a large digital instrument display ahead of the driver, a large central touchscreen, and very few buttons elsewhere. It’s all very modern and simplistic.

The Mk7 Golf has a more button-heavy layout

Quality remains as good as ever, with plenty of soft-touch materials in the areas you touch on a daily basis, and even felt lining for the door pockets.

Volkswagen Golf Mk8 vs Mk7 practicality
Car Boot space Rear legroom Rear headroom
Volkswagen Golf Mk8 381-litres Not quoted 968mm
Volkswagen Golf Mk7 380-litres 903mm 967mm

Some versions of the new Golf even come with customisable mood lighting, something owners of the previous car could only dream about.

The infotainment system in the Mk8 Golf can be fiddly to use

It’s not all good news about the latest Golf however. Take the boot, for instance. It’s exactly the same size as the old one. In addition to this, the lack of buttons makes the cabin less user friendly than the Mk7 Golf. The touch bar you get below the screen is particularly fiddly, as are the optional touch-sensitive steering wheel buttons.

 

MPG Emissions and tax

The old Golf’s engines were fairly efficient, but the new one takes things up a level. For a start, if you specify the 1.0 and 1.5-litre petrol models with a DSG gearbox, they’ll have mild hybrid assistance, which basically means the there’s an electric motor that recharges the battery when you lift off the accelerator, and this extra charge provides assistance to the petrol engine when needed.

If you skip the DSG, then you do without the mild-hybrid assistance, but the 1.5 (which offers either 130hp or 150hp) is a peach nevertheless.

There’s also a 1.4-litre petrol plug-in hybrid, which can do up to 37.5 miles on electric power alone, then a 2.0-litre diesel with either 115hp or 150hp, which emits up to 80% less NOx.

Some models also feature a coasting function, in which the engine switches off altogether when you lift off the accelerator. It sounds weird but in reality it works so seamlessly that you won’t even notice.

However, if you want an all-electric Golf, you’ll need to grab a used example of the Mk7 because VW isn’t going to make an EV version of the Golf Mk8. That’s because it wants buyers to go its dedicated VW ID.3 model instead.

Prices

It’s fair to say prices have gone up a bit for the Mk8 Volkswagen Golf, but then you are getting a whole more technology for the cash. Whereas the old Golf started below £20k, the new one kicks off at £25,340 for the three-cylinder 110hp 1.0-litre petrol engine in Life trim, which comes with automatic lights and wipers, self-dimming rearview mirror, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and mobile phone mirroring.

You can pick up a five year old Volkswagen Golf Mk7 for around £15,000 on the used market, rising to £20,000 for a clean 2019 car. All Mk7 Golfs come with a touchscreen infotainment system, remote central locking and automatic headlights and wipers as standard.

Driving

The new Golf is more capable than ever on the road, proving comfortable and easy to manoeuvre in town, and well controlled on faster roads, especially with the adaptive suspension fitted. However, beware that models with less than 150hp have less complex rear suspension, which is likely to have an effect on the car’s behaviour.

If it’s fun you want, you’ll have to look at the Golf GTI hot hatch, or the Golf R if you want the ultimate performance model. These models are more engaging to drive and much faster than the standard car thanks to a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine and lowered, stiffened suspension.

The Mk7 Golf still holds up well today on the road, offering efficient engines and great ride comfort. It’s a great car for long journeys, however it’s not the most fun hatchback to throw down a twisty road. For that, you’ll need something like a Ford Focus. You can also get GTI and R versions of the Mk7 Golf, and they offer similar driving thrills to the Mk8 thanks to their 2.0-litre turbocharged engines.

Verdict

So how does the new VW Golf compare with the previous-generation car? Well, probably the best way to look at the new car is as a tremendous all-rounder that is extremely capable at almost everything. It’s comfortable, practical, well equipped and well built.

The Mk7 Golf is all of these things as well, however it looks and feels slightly dated these days. It doesn’t offer all of the latest tech that the Mk8 does, however the cabin is easier to use thanks to the physical controls you get. It really does make a superb used purchase.

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Volkswagen Golf

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