The Volkswagen Golf has always been known as a great ‘all-rounder’, which has often felt like it’s been damned with faint praise. Not so, because it actually means it’s really good at pretty much everything. The Mk7 Golf was certainly a superb all-rounder, so how does the new Mk8 Golf compare? Is it a case of the king being dead, long live the king?
Volkswagen Golf Mk8 vs Mk7: Design
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.
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.
Volkswagen Golf Mk8 vs Mk7: 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.
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.
Some versions of the new Golf even come with customisable mood lighting, something owners of the previous car could only dream about.
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.
Volkswagen Golf Mk8 vs Mk7: engines and driving
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.
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.
Volkswagen Golf Mk8 vs Mk7: Prices
It’s fair to say prices have gone up a bit, 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 £23,300 for the three-cylinder 110hp 1.0-litre petrol engine in Life trim, which comes with automatic lights and wipers, self-dimming rearview mirror, Car2X communication, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and mobile phone mirroring.
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. Which is pretty much where we came in…