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Volkswagen Golf (Mk8)

8/10
Overall verdict

The Top Gear car review: Volkswagen Golf (Mk8)

£18,325£31,020

Driving

What is it like on the road?

The engines are mostly upgraded versions – cleaner, more economical – of what went before. Three-cylinder 1.0-litre options will come just after launch. So too will a plug-in hybrid GTE with 245bhp, and a useful 13kWh battery for at least 40 miles e-range. Oh and by the end of 2020 a GTI and an R and a GTD.

We drove the 1.5-litre TSI. It comes in 130 or 150bhp setups, and ours was the 130 in six-speed manual, likely the biggest seller. It’s OK but not great – notably laggy low down, a little rough around the critical 4,000rpm band. But in the end quiet and reasonably economical.

The 150bhp engine, when you spec DSG, comes with a 48V mild-hybrid system. Its electric motor/generator is connected to the engine by belt, as these things usually are. Out on the road it works well, ameliorating the lag by nudging the engine for a moment as you floor it. And it reclaims energy on the over-run, and starts the engine super-quickly after a junction stop. The economy boost is claimed to be about 10 per cent.

We also had a crack at the 150bhp diesel, a reasonably quiet example of the kind. The DCT transmission keeps its efforts flowing with few jerks.

The low-power versions have a twist-beam rear suspension. It tracks nicely on A-roads. As you peel into a bend it’s a little soggy, but get it loaded up and it tautens its sinews, resisting understeer well. That’s partly because in the background it pinches individual brakes to keep the thing faithful to your steering.

Mind you the test car had the optional adaptive damping – and who will pay £1,000 for that on a base Golf?

Once you get to 150bhp, a more sophisticated multi-link rear suspension is yours. This one has more precision and progression in all its reactions, and really quite good steering feel. Again our tester had the adaptive dampers.

The ride’s mostly nicely supple especially over coarse gritty impacts. But the firmer-spring diesel is a bit more knobbly.

So you’ve got a car that nudges Focus levels of handling and ride, though just like a Focus it’s spec dependent. The BMW 1 Series in contrast has a multi-link axle in all versions.

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