Volkswagen revises Golf Mk8 line-up, bringing in fancy lighting, a faster GTI model… and better infotainment

2,000 people a day buy a VW Golf

The venerable Volkswagen Golf turns 50 this year, and the company is marking the occasion by updating and refreshing the current eighth-generation model, including back-lit dashboard controls.

VW has to get this programme of updates right, because the Golf remains a hugely important product to the company. Over the course of its five decades on sale more than 37 million Golfs have found homes, meaning that on average, just over 2,000 have been sold every day it has been in showrooms worldwide.

A light touch

Volkswagen Golf

Volkswagen has paid a lot of attention to the 2024 Golf’s lighting. There are new LED signatures front and rear, with various optional levels of illumination possible.

Choose either of the two higher grades and the Golf’s nose badge will glow at night — a first for the company, though it takes inspiration from the Touareg SUV, on which the boot emblem pulls off the same trick.

Four new colours and five designs of fresh alloy wheel are drafted in to complete the minor aesthetic updates for the facelifted Golf range. In exterior design terms this update is very much a case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

Sorting the sliders

Sensibly, VW has put a lot of effort addressing some of the major criticisms of the early Mk8’s interior. In the pre-facelift Golfs, both the climate system’s temperature slider and the volume control for the sound system were not illuminated, which means that at night they’re both difficult to see and use easily.

Volkswagen Golf

That has been rightly rectified with the update, and the now-backlit sliders themselves also feature improved haptic feedback, making it easier to feel any changes to the settings without taking your eyes off the road.

Volkswagen has gone further and replaced the touch-sensitive buttons that were on the steering wheel with physical push buttons this time around, helping avoid unintended adjustments should they be brushed with a hand accidentally.

The main infotainment itself is also new from the ground up, with both fresh software and hardware. That means it is presented on either a 10.4- or 12.9in freestanding display in the centre of the dash, depending on which grade of Golf buyers have opted for.

This also now features a natural-language voice control assistant called Ida, borrowed from VW’s ID. range of electric vehicles, which means the driver can say things such as “my feet are cold” to the Golf and it will automatically direct warm air into the vehicle’s footwells.

Volkswagen Golf

Enhanced assist systems for the updated Golf include Park Assist Pro, which allows owners to park the car remotely using only their smartphone, and Area View, a 360-degree camera set-up.

Extra range for plug-in hybrids

Under the skin of the Golf, Volkswagen has made some significant changes to the powertrains, specifically to the plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), which go under the “eHybrid” and “GTE” banners.

Both gain a newer 1.5-litre, four-cylinder TSI petrol engine as their basis, which comes complete with cylinder deactivation technology to help save fuel when the engine isn’t being pushed hard.

For the update, Volkswagen has also given both PHEVs bigger lithium-ion battery packs (19.7kWh usable energy capacity, up from 10.6kWh previously), so whether you pick the 201bhp eHybrid or the 268bhp performance-oriented GTE, there’s officially about 62 miles of electric driving available (expect less in real-world conditions).

Volkswagen Golf

Elsewhere, the same TSI petrol, eTSI mild-hybrid petrol and TDI turbodiesel engines as before continue in service, driving the Golf’s front wheels through either six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic dual-clutch gearboxes known as “DSG”. The two PHEVs use a six-speed eDSG instead.

Hot GTI gains added pep

Power ranges from 113- to 148bhp in the main engine line-up, but the GTI hot hatch is one car to gain an increase in output as part of this raft of revisions.

It benefits from an additional 19bhp, taking its overall peak power to 261bhp. No word yet on the incremental performance gains this bestows on the GTI, but it’s likely to trim a few tenths from the old 242bhp model’s 6.3-second 0-62mph time.

Volkswagen Golf

The fastest Golf variants, which are the 296bhp GTI Clubsport and the 316bhp all-wheel-drive R, aren’t yet privy to these amendments, but revised versions of those will follow on once the initial line-up launches in spring.

As before, the 2024 Golf will be available as both a five-door hatch and a more practical estate model.

Peak Golf?

Thomas Schäfer, the CEO of Volkswagen, has previously admitted that the next Golf — due out in or around 2028 — will be pure-electric, most likely replacing the ID.3. However, this current version still needs to impress with internal combustion.

“The Golf has been at the heart of the Volkswagen brand for half a century now, offering affordable mobility for all at the highest technical level,” he said. “It has constantly adapted itself to customer needs and has thus become a global bestseller.

“This is precisely what we are now building on with the latest evolutionary stage of the product line —with even higher efficiency, comfort and quality, and a new operating concept. The Golf does not get any better than this.”

Related articles

Latest articles