Eight-gen Volkswagen Golf tees off in Singapore

BY Marcus Lim

The latest iteration of Volkswagen’s iconic hot hatch is now in Singapore with more power and an all-new digitalised interior

Everybody knows the Golf. It’s the second-longest running Volkswagen nameplate – behind the Beetle, of course – with a 47-year production run.
In that period, it sold well too, thanks to clever packaging, peppy engines, and a comprehensive range of models. Need to buy your kid his/her first car? There’s the base Golf. Need a fun city runabout? There’s the midrange turbocharged Golf. Want a hot hatch? There’s the Golf GTI. Want a mala 大辣 hot hatch with all-wheel drive? There’s the Golf R!

In this latest eighth-generation model, the Golf’s tried-and-tested recipe been enhanced, refined, and modernised both inside and out.

What’s new outside?

The Golf’s exterior – though not always the most exciting – has always been pleasant and easily identifiable as a Golf. That hasn’t changed, with the signature chunky, forward-leaning C-pillar still present.

Styling of the Golf 8 has evolved with the times, yet remains largely similar. Designers have taken the seventh-gen Golf and sharpened it up, adding more lines and angles for an aggressive look. Up front, there’s a new 2D badge with Volkswagen’s new logo, flanked by a slim narrow grille. Slim ‘LED Plus’ headlights with a cornering function, taper in toward the centre and add to its aggressiveness.

Of course, the GTI’s honeycomb grille and signature red strip makes a re-appearance. The honeycomb grille is now a large single piece that integrates the five small foglights. The red strip now features prominently on the top edge of the headlight and grille, creating a single unbroken line from one side of the car to the other.

Down the side, there’s now a sharper, more pronounced shoulder section. The character line now starts from the front fender and cuts through the C-pillar, joining the fender and taillight seamlessly. There’s also 19-inch ‘Adelaide’ wheels as standard, with red brake calipers beneath.

New LED taillights are the largest styling change to the rear, with an L-shaped design similar to that on the T-Roc crossover. The rear bootlid script simply reads ‘GTI’, letting other drivers know that it shouldn’t be trifled with.

What’s new inside?

Digitalisation is the keyword for the Golf 8’s interior. Everything that can be digitalised and made into a touch assisted display has been changed, to “elevate the experience to a new level of interaction between human and machine.”

In front of the driver is a new 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster that replaces the old analog unit. A 10-inch ‘Discover Pro’ infotainment system sits at the same level, in a seamless architecture.

The centre stack now comprises fully of touch buttons and sliders, offering a clean, completely different method of interior control. There are just four main quick access buttons – drive assist, climate control, infotainment menu, and driving mode. These, together with the row of touch sliders beneath the infotainment screen, are all you need to navigate the menus.

Even the vision controls are touch buttons too, clustered to the right of the steering wheel. This consolidates the lights and front/rear windscreen heating controls to a single panel, in place of the traditional lighting knob.

Like its platform mate the fourth-gen A3, you won’t find a traditional gearlever in the cabin. The Golf gets the same small shift-by-wire gear selector, thankfully surrounded by matte black plastic trim in this application.

What’s new underneath?

The Golf is underpinned by the new Volkswagen Group MQB Evo platform, shared with the Audi A3 and Skoda Octavia.

The regular Golf gets a new 48-volt mild hybrid engine helps to save at the pumps, promising up to 10 percent lower fuel consumption. This ‘eTSI’ engine pairs a 1.5-litre engine with a 48V starter-generator, good for 148 bhp and 250 Nm of torque.

For the GTI, however, it gets the full-fat 2.0-litre TSI ‘EA888’ engine with a small power bump. Power is now 14 bhp higher at 241 bhp, and torque 20 Nm higher at 370 Nm.

There’s also a new Vehicle Dynamics Manager that controls the e-differential and dynamic chassis control for the most optimum handling. An ‘Individual’ setting joins the existing three drive modes, allowing more adjustability of the adaptive dampers.

Not yet announced in Singapore, the new Golf R goes a step further with 315 bhp and 420 Nm of torque. The all-wheel-drive Golf R also features a new torque-vectoring rear differential, with an exciting-sounding Drift Mode function. Oooooh.

How much is it?

For the bread-n-butter Golf 1.5 eTSI, three equipment packages are available at launch – the Golf Life, Life Plus, and R-Line. The range starts at S$125,900 (with COE) for the Golf Life, S$132,900 for the Golf Life Plus, and S$142,900 for the Golf R-Line.

For the hotter Golf GTI, only one trim level is available, priced at S$205,900 with COE. All models will be available for sale at the Volkswagen showroom starting tomorrow, 20th May 2021.