• The 2020 Volkswagen Golf 8 Comes Off As a Cheaper, Cooler Audi

Believe it or not, the Volkswagen Golf Just one-upped the competition in a big way

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Volkswagen just finished debuting the new 2020 Volkswagen Golf MK. 8, and it takes the Golf into unchartered territory with mild hybrid technology, car-to-x connectivity, a mildly revised look, and engines that are more efficient than ever. Even better yet, at launch, the Golf Mk. 8 will be available as a plug-in hybrid with a 13 kWh battery that will give you some 60 km (about 37 miles) of all-electric range. The interior of the Golf has been completely revamped as well with an all-new focus on digital controls, and, to be quite honest, it feels like the Golf just surpassed Audi in a big way. Here’s what you need to know.

2020 Volkswagen Golf Appearance

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The new Golf is, without a doubt, still recognizable as a Golf but, at the same time, it has a look all its own.

New sleeker headlights are the big news up front along with the revised front fascia that now makes the front grille look like it runs the full width of the vehicle.

We’re still on the fence about this look, but it’s certainly fresh. The height of the face is now a little lower too and, when paired with the revised A-pillars and marginally more aggressive hood, the new Golf is quite sporty in the front. I do have to admit, however, that it does kind of look kind of like an angry ninja turtle from the right angle. Maybe it’s just me…

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The side profile of the new Golf is probably the most disappointing as the previous teaser sketches promised us a significantly wider and sportier Golf. What we got instead was pretty much more of the same with a revised body line that now sits lower to run just above the door handles from the headlights to the taillights and a more evident kind on the rear quarters where the hatch, fascia, and taillights come together. The one big thing to note here is that the Golf’s roof now slopes downward in the rear because VW just had to follow that trend. There’s no word on how it affects cargo room or headroom for rear passengers, but those figures could drop just a punch – we’ll just have to wait and see.

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Around back, the Mk.8 Golf is probably more attractive than ever.

The flush taillights were obviously ripped right out of the Audi rejects bin, but they look amazing on the new Golf. The rear fascia is a little bland, but if you actually look, the design near the bottom is similar to that of the front. The chrome stripe that connects both exhaust outlets is pretty cool too. I’m not a fan of the way the lower portion of the rear hatch is shaped, specifically near the taillights, but I have a feeling that will grow on me once we see how the rear hatch actually opens in person.

Overall, I have to admit that the new exterior design of the Golf 8 does make it more attractive than ever, despite a few nitpicks I have here and there.

2020 Volkswagen Golf MK. 8 Interior and Technology

The 2020 Volkswagen Golf 8 Comes Off As a Cheaper, Cooler Audi Interior
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Volkswagen hasn’t gone into extreme detail about the technology inside the Mk. 8 Golf, but just one look inside, and you’ll see that everything has changed.

As a driver, you’ll now be encompassed by three different screens – a smaller one to the left of the wheel, the large digital instrument cluster, and the large infotainment display.

I have to admit that this is a missed mark, though, as I would have been much better if VW took a Mercedes approach and made all three screens large enough to look like one massive unit. That’s a shame, but at the same time, it still looks better than anything Audi or even BMW are offering at the moment.

The 2020 Volkswagen Golf 8 Comes Off As a Cheaper, Cooler Audi Interior
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If you keep looking around, you’ll notice that most physical buttons are gone.

VW took big strides to make sure that all controls are either clickable, swipeable, or voice-activated.

Outside of, I assume, the window switches and door locks, there are no toggle buttons here. Thanks to a shift-by-wire design, the new Golf features a taller but less bulky center console. Just look at how small the gear shifter is. Of course, I wouldn’t be a journalist if I didn’t point out that they stole Jaguar’s design for the oh-shit handle on the right side of the console. Eh… maybe we should call it a wall to stop passengers from entering your bubble. Either way, I suppose.

Ambient lighting and revised materials throughout round out the cabin, while Car-to-X technology allows the car to warn you about things going on ahead of you before you’re even able to see them. I’m a little old-school when it comes to this stuff, but I have to admit that it’s pretty cool for a Volkswagen Golf to have this kind of tech.

2020 Volkswagen Golf MK. 8 Powertrain and Performance

The 2020 Volkswagen Golf 8 Comes Off As a Cheaper, Cooler Audi Exterior
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This is where things for the new Golf really change. First off, you should know that the Volkswagen Golf is electrified in most forms.

On the mild-hybrid front, you’ll get a 48-volt electric system, a belt starter generator, and a gasoline engine that goes by the nomenclature eTSi.

These models will be available in three different flavors that offer up 110 ps, 130 ps, or 150 ps, all while being more efficient than any Golf that came before them. For those of us on this side of the pond, those figures translate to 108.4, 128.2, and 147.9 horsepower, respectively.

Volkswagen also has two plug-in hybrid models available that rock out a 13 kWh battery pack that should be good enough to get you some 60 km (about 37 miles down the road) before the engine has to kick in.

The entry-level hybrid will generate 204 PS (201 horsepower) while the GTE PHEV will pump out 245 PS (about 241 horsepower.)

To put that into perspective, the current GTI in the U.S. delivers 228 horsepower on premium fuel while the $40,000 Golf R delivers 288 horsepower.

The 2020 Volkswagen Golf 8 Comes Off As a Cheaper, Cooler Audi Exterior
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If you’re not into the whole electrification thing just yet, Volkswagen will sell you a Golf with a Gasoline, Diesel, or Natural Gas guzzler with power output ranging anywhere from 90 PS all the way up to 150 PS, depending on the model, engine, and region in which you live.

Final Thoughts

The 2020 Volkswagen Golf 8 Comes Off As a Cheaper, Cooler Audi Exterior
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I have to admit that there is a lot about the new Mk. 8 Golf that I like, including the fact that it suddenly feels like it’s better than anything Audi has to offer at the moment. At the same time, I think Volkswagen is afraid to change the Golf too much, and that’s why we end up with that funny looking front Fascia and only mild exterior changes otherwise. I’m pretty sure a few execs at VW headquarters were shitting bricks over the design of the Golf’s interior changing so much, but maybe not. Either way, I just might have to get myself one in the near future.

Robert Moore
Robert Moore
Editor-in-Chief and Automotive Expert - robert@topspeed.com
Robert has been an auto enthusiast his entire life. He started working cars at a young age, learning the basics from his father in the home garage on the weekends. As time went on, Robert became more and more interested in cars and convinced his father to teach him how to drive when he was just 13 years old. Robert continued working on cars in his free time and learned as much as he could about engines, transmissions, and car electrical systems, something that only fed his curiosity more and eventually led him to earn a bachelors degree in automotive technology with a primary focus on engine performance and transmission rebuilding.  Read full bio
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