Viewed : 16,273 times

29 May 2021

What We Dislike
Noticeable delay during manual gearshifts

The eighth generation Volkswagen Golf, in the R-Line variant, gives it a sportier look, and a lower ride height with improved handling.

Mention hatchbacks, and the first car that comes to mind will likely be the Golf. Volkswagen must have gotten the formula right for the Golf to emerge as the archetypal hatchback throughout so many generations, dating all the way back to 1974.

Trying to get a grasp on the allure of these cars, I asked my dad, who used to own a Mk1 GTI, why he bought one. Turns out, he was captivated by the nimble performance demonstrated by these cars at local carpark rally events, quickly got one for himself and absolutely loved how it drives - manoeuvrable and zippy enough to put larger cars to shame.

An eager beaver on the twisties

The Golf R-Line is equipped with a set of lowered sports suspension
Naturally, one of the first things that I did with this Golf, was to head out to my favourite section of twisty roads. I just had to find out if the magic my dad experienced is still there, after seven iterations of the quintessential hatch.

As I dived into the first corner, I was pleasantly surprised by how eagerly the Golf turns in. Accelerating out of the turn, the steering weights up accordingly, accurately conveying the loading up of the front wheels to you.

The quick and well-judged steering, coupled with the lowered sports suspension on the R-Line, has resulted in a nimble and confidence-inspiring drive with minimal roll - if this is how all Golfs are like, there's no wonder that they are so popular. There is nonetheless a quirk. A noticeable delay was observed when shifting gears manually, especially during off-throttle situations, breaking an otherwise dynamic and engaging experience.

A 48V starter generator allows the 1.5-litre eTSI engine to coast and restart seamlessly
While the 1.5-litre eTSI engine found in the Golf R-Line isn't exactly earth-shattering, there's enough power to make overtaking a breeze. The mild-hybrid powertrain puts out 148bhp and 250Nm of torque, allowing the Golf to accelerate to 100km/h from a standstill in just 8.5 seconds. Put it into sport mode and you'll be rewarded with a sharper throttle response, along with later shift points, demonstrating the full worth of the engine.

Being a 48V mild hybrid, the Golf is able to coast with the engine shut off. What's truly amazing is how smooth and seamlessly the engine restarts. That, along with the engine's ability to run in two-cylinder mode during low load conditions, allowed the Golf to achieve an impressive fuel consumption of 16.3km/L after a 75km drive in mixed conditions. On a predominantly expressway drive, I even managed to achieve 20km/L.

Poised family hatchback

Despite being a hatchback, the Golf has plenty of interior space to offer
While my dad's hot hatchback in the seventies was geared all towards exuberant driving, the new Golf here strikes a great balance between fun, practicality and comfort.

Long gone are the days where you'll be rubbing shoulders with your passenger in a hatchback. Cars have been growing steadily in size, and that's the case with this new Golf.

Measuring in at 1,789mm wide, this hatchback is wider than family sedans like the Toyota Altis, translating into generous wiggle room inside. There's a reasonable amount of legroom for adults to travel in comfort, all while offering a respectable boot space of 380 litres.

The cabin is well insulated, with minimal wind noise at highway speeds. Despite the sportier suspension on this Golf, uneven surfaces and ruts on the roads are nicely soaked up by the dampers to offer a pliant ride that is quite unexpected of a hatchback that handles so nicely. These qualities make the Golf a pleasant car to ride in.

Intuitive and feature-packed interior

Like the GTI, the R-Line loses the conventional buttons for sleek touch controls
With the R-Line variant, you get to enjoy upgrades similar to the GTI in the interior. Aside from the hazard light switch, all physical buttons have been replaced with touch and slider controls with haptic feedback - you won't get this in either of the two lower variants (Life and Life Plus).

While these fancy controls for everything ranging from the cabin lights to the drive modes and climate functions might take a little getting used to, they do offer a modernised and clean look.

Angled towards the driver is a new 10-inch Discover Pro infotainment system that features an intuitive user interface - the large icons along with a home button reminds of the simple operation of an iPhone.

The 10-inch infotainment system features several modes of wireless smartphone connections
While Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are expected of recent cars, the Golf one-ups the competition with wireless connections. Connected by the same piece of high-gloss black panel is a new configurable 10.25-inch digital drivers display that sits behind a steering filled with capacitive touch controls as well, creating a visually impressive double-display dash.

The R-Line also gets a pair of sporty fabric seats that looks every bit as great as how it feels. Unlike the GTI, however, there are no electronic adjustments to be found here. Alcantara-esque microfleece fabric can also be found lining the door cards and on the seats, lending a sporty and avant-garde feel to the interior.

A natural evolution

Already on its eighth generation, the Golf still features a familiar silhouette
When the time comes to introduce a replacement to a model that has enjoyed relative success, the dilemma between going for an evolution or a revolutionary design presents itself.

With the eighth generation Golf, Volkswagen has retained the recognised silhouette while creating a vastly different look - there's no way you'll mistake this car for any of its predecessor, and yet the lineage is unmistakeable.

I'll have to admit, when photos of the car first emerged, I wasn't sure of the new head light design. But this is one of those things that look so much better in the flesh, and especially so with the R-Line' LED strip across the front grille, connecting the pair of head lights.

The sporty R-Line bodykit as well as the 18-inch alloy wheels give the Golf a presence like no other - in fact, I reckon this is the variant within the non-GTI lineup I would go for.

Is it still the archetypal family hatchback?

In the market for a hatchback? Look no further
I think Volkswagen has created a winner yet again. The Golf, even in its non-GTI guise, manages to offer stellar handling and a great deal of fun, along with the practicality expected of a hatchback and ride quality that surpasses the competiton. And it does all of these in impeccable style. Just remember to go for the R-Line.

After a short drive with my dad in tow, the first question he asked me was, "How much does it cost to get one of these again?"

I suppose the charm of the Golf is still apparent.
Car Information
There's a promotion for Volkswagen Golf Mild Hybrid



Engine Type


4-cylinder in-line 16-valve Turbocharged

Engine Cap








250 Nm



7-speed (A) DSG

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)



Top Speed



Fuel consumption



You may also like

1-10 of 20