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What is it like on the inside?

Hope you like blue. There’s shades of blue on the steering wheel, in the multi-colour ambient lighting menu, and spat all over the slightly ‘1990s Ford RS’ seats, which appear to be upholstered in old mousemats. Nice and grippy though, and more supportive than the old R’s chairs. The driving position’s pretty spot on. Want a more purposeful, touring car vibe? You want a Honda Civic Type R, friend.

Besides the perforated leather wheel (when BMW finally gives up on overstuffed black pudding steering wheels, this slender rim would be the one to copy) with its XXL paddles, and a few R logos on the twin 10-inch screens, this is all regular Mk8 Golf. For better, and for much, much worse.

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That means vast seas of glossy black plastic, touch-sensitive heater and volume controls that don’t light up at night, and truly risible haptic feedback steering wheel controls. Look, having a heated steering wheel is jolly nice. Accidentally switching it on with your palm every time you turn left is a pain. Why Volkswagen, why?

Standard kit in the UK includes a wireless charging mat under a clever anti-distraction cover, and your device can connect to Apple and Android screen mirroring without the need for an untidy cable. Handy, given this is a USB-C only zone. We found the connection glitches and crashes a couple of times a week, leaving you with a black screen of doom until the car is switched off and on again. Hurry up with that software update, Wolfsburg – other Golf 8s we’ve tested have been afflicted with the same bugs.

There’s lots of stowage, and VW thoughtfully carpets the inside of the door bins so your spare change and hand sanitiser don’t rattle or buzz around. Build quality feels like it’ll outlast a Norman cathedral and the slightly dour materials chosen have a less tinny feel than an A-Class, if not as mature as BMW’s class-leading 1 Series cabin.

Obviously Volkswagen has been building hot hatchbacks for a little while now, so it knows these things need to work every day. Swing open the back doors and you’ll discover that unlike some rivals from the likes of Renault and Ford, the bulkier sports seats haven’t been allowed to eat into rear legroom, so there’s still space for adults in the cheap seats. And while four-wheel drive does eat into potential under-boot stowage the 374-litre cargo bay is perfectly adequate for a car this size.
Need more space? See if you can get a deal on one of those handsome Arteon Shooting Brakes instead.

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