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The eighth iteration Volkswagen Golf is a modern all-rounder hatchback that drives quick and rides comfortably.

19 May 2021


The Volkswagen Golf has been around for 45 years. Despite all the competition that has come and gone, it seems to be the default car to recommend a friend when they ask about hatchbacks.

45 years is, well, a pretty darn long time. In fact, it's long enough for people to inevitably think Golf when they think Volkswagen.

Golf 8 now sports a 1.5-litre mild-hybrid engine
This is the all new eighth iteration Volkswagen Golf and it's one of those cars that has managed to retained its ability to be an age-free, race-free and even gender-free sort of car. Whether you're a CEO of an SME or a rich kid at SMU, getting behind the wheel of the Golf won't get you defined by your peers.

And that's a feat in the automotive world, especially when you're in a country where you have to pay a big sum of money just for a Certificate of Entitlement (COE) to own and operate a vehicle for a period of just a decade.

Well, that's true... about not getting defined...

Ample colours for you to 'dress up' your cabin
The new Golf falls under the Cat B COE, with three trim levels available here in Singapore. Prices start from $125,900, but you and I know this could change every two weeks. Regardless, you'll be getting quite a fair bit of car for the money you're forking out.

It's now longer and taller than before, which means you're getting more presence on the road and a more spacious cabin, which will get everyone on board happy, especially the missus and the kids. And if the kids are old enough to appreciate technology and merging, simplistic design, the cabin of the new Volkswagen is something that will be right up their alley.

The cabin is more tech savvy and minimalistic than before
Our test car is the 'Life Plus' variant which, in 'You and I' terms, is the mid-range model that won't put a frown on your face when you enter the car. In here, you and your occupants are faced with a new 8.25-inch touchscreen that takes centre stage. Together with the new configurable 10.25-inch digital driver's display and what you'll get is a dual-screen dash that's intuitive, modern and pretty damn geeky, if you were to ask me.

Yet, despite all of its modern digital tech and simplistic design, including the stumpy DSG gear selector, the new Golf hasn't lost any of its trademark characteristics of being a family-friendly hatchback.

Rear occupants are going to appreciate head and legroom that's highly competitive while boot space remains at 380 litres (similar to its predecessor). Knock the 60:40 rear benches and you'll get 1,237 litres worth of hauling capacity that's more than adequate to have your five-month old toddler flipping around like a friendly dolphin.

I like the idea of dolphin...

The new Golf looks good even from the back
Like friendly dolphins, the Golf 8 seems to have taken on a friendlier look than before. It's softer around the edges with added lines by the side that make the hatch seem even longer than it already is. Yet, like the Porsche 911 and the Volkswagen Beetle, the car hasn't lost its signature silhouette, which makes the car instantly recognisable.

Mind you, there are people whom I've met who still can't differentiate a Volkswagen T-Cross from a Porsche Macan (I often wonder if it's because of the rear light strip), but they can identify a Golf from two traffic lights away.

I can differentiate... I promise...

It manages to hold its own well around bends
And if your passengers decide to coerce you to speed down two lights just to prove their point, the Golf 8 will do a good job if you happen to be in one. Thanks to the 1.5-litre powerplant that pushes out 148bhp and 250Nm of twisting force to the front wheels, the car will get to the 100km/h mark from nought in just 8.5 seconds, even without the help of its 48V mild-hybrid system.

It's a common thing with these mild-hybrid systems, since they work more 'behind the scenes' of the car, but the one in the Golf is a lovely gem of a system that allows you to coast with the engine switched off, and then restarting again in such a barely perceptible manner that everyone on board will be hard pressed to know it's even there. And according to Volkswagen, this mild-hybrid engine consumes 10% lesser fuel, but we were unable to verify that since we only had the car for less than half a day.

Cogs from the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox swop with speed and smoothness
Thankfully, we didn't need a long time to know how capable the Golf is. On the straights, it's typically vee-dub, with the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox changing cogs with superb speed and smoothness while the steering gives you that direct and dominating balance that allows you to carve corners like pigs going through bones like butter. Credit will also have to go to the entire setup of the car. Although it's based on the same MQB platform as its predecessor, the hatchback seems a tad stiffer, with more accuracy and action in all its reactions.

And if going through corners isn't your cup of tea, the Golf's ride quality will genuinely impress. Supple over nitty gritty tarmac and stiff and stubborn humps, the car you see here on this page remains to be an easy, comfortable drive that will easily win over most hatchback buyers.

Stiff and stubborn... That's what she said too

The car retains its functional 380-litre bootspace  
There are several options for you to choose from at this price point. I would think the Mazda3 Hatchback is a serious contender to the Golf, but the engine lacks the sort of punchiness that may not be on the good side of everyone. You could consider the more premium BMW 1 Series 116i Hatchback that we recently tested or even the recently launched Audi A3 Sportback, but you'll end up spending more.

There are other Volkswagen Group cars in this class that are more affordable, just as punchy and arguably good-looking too, but make no mistakes, the Golf remains to be something of a benchmark when it comes to engagement, agility and accuracy for its price. Somehow there's always that sense of desirability to the Golf that's missing in its competitors.

45 years on and it's still the default car to recommend...

Car Information

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Price

: $135,900

Engine Type

:

4-cylinder in-line 16-valve Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

1498cc

Horsepower

:

-

Torque

:

250 Nm

Transmission

:

7-speed (A) DSG

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

8.5sec

Top Speed

:

224km/h

Fuel consumption

:

20.8 km/L

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