Volkswagen engineered its latest Golf to be its most technologically advanced model to date. The exterior is familiar but inside the compact hatchback has a fully digital instrument cluster that can be configured by using the multifunction steering wheel.
"The real revolution is in the interior. With the Innovision Cockpit, analog dials are history," said Nicole Hempe, who is the Golf's product marketing manager.
The eighth-generation Golf is the first VW brand car to date to have Car2X technology. This allows the vehicle to communicate with other cars up to 800 meters away, for example to warn of an emergency vehicle approaching from behind.
Like all new VWs, the base version has emergency braking assistance with pedestrian recognition to prevent accidents and collisions. It also now has active lane keeping designed to correct the car's path if road markings are clear enough for the vehicle to detect.
All Golfs whatever their specification have an embedded cellular modem with access to VW's digital We user platform, which serves as a central hub for services connected to the vehicle. This can be used to purchase upgrades such as automatic cruise control or a wireless hotspot for connecting to the Internet.
Settings for everything from the dashboard layout to ambient lighting and seating preferences can be stored in the cloud via a user profile. That profile migrates with the driver to other vehicles equipped with the third-generation of VW's MIB infotainment system, which first debuted in September with the refreshed Passat.
"We have worked hard to incorporate as many features in the standard version as possible," Hempe said.
Options include head-up display and a 10-inch middle console that replaces dials for controlling the heating, cooling and the volume of the radio with touch sliders. The infotainment system responds to gestures or voice commands.
The Golf will be available with a range of 48-volt mild hybrid drivetrains with outputs of 108 hp, 129 hp and 148 hp. On paper this doesn't result in much of a fuel-savings benefit because of the test cycle parameters, but engineers say customers will see real benefits as the engine can deactivate entirely when the foot is taken off the accelerator, known as sailing.
The Golf is underpinned by an updated MQB architecture. Its electrical wiring was overhauled to add the latest CAN FD standard to boost the volume of data transfer. This allowed elements such as the 48-volt battery and digital cockpit to be incorporated into the vehicle.
Powertrains: VW has improved fuel efficiency by up to 17 percent, led by the 2.0-liter TDI diesel. The Golf will be available with 48-volt mild hybrid drivetrains with outputs of 108 hp, 129 hp and 148 hp.
Driver assistance: To make long highway journeys easier VW has added semi-autonomous Travel Assist, which also debuted in the Passat in Europe. The system can actively steer, accelerate and brake the car on highways at up to speeds of 210 kph.
Rollout: VW is borrowing the idea of a limited launch series from the ID3. The first Golfs, with scaled back capabilities, arrived in Germany last month. The U.S. market will only receive the GTI performance version.
Aerodynamics: Drag coefficient has been reduced to 0.275 from 0.29.
Launch date: Europe (first quarter); U.S. (late 2020).
Base price: 27,510 euros (Germany).
Where built: Wolfsburg.
Main rivals: Ford Focus, Opel/Vauxhall Astra, Peugeot 308, Mercedes A class.