EVOLUTION rather than revolution has been the byword for successive generations of the Volkswagen Golf - and the new, eighth incarnation, revealed at the company's Wolfsburg HQ, remains unmistakably a Golf.
But in many ways, this latest generation of VW's global best seller will be the most revolutionary yet with virtually every high-tech trick in the book packed into the familiar shape.
The styling evolution of the mark eight brings a sharper, sleeker front-end treatment with a narrow grille incorporating the new VW logo, slit-like lighting units and a deep bumper with a full width air scoop.
The revolution is under the skin - a plug-in 48 volt, 250hp hybrid model and mild hybrid powertrain options will be available for the first time alongside conventional petrol and diesel variants which include new three cylinder petrol and four cylinder diesel engines.
Inside the cabin, the instruments and fascia will be fully digitised as standard across the range with a 10-inch infotainment screen while semi-autonomous driving will be available for the first time in a compact model along with numerous safety assistance and driver convenience features.
In fact, VW claims that Golf 8 sets a new benchmark in the compact class in terms of assisted driving functions.
Available in higher spec models, Travel Assist makes assisted driving possible on motorways up to speeds of 210 km/h without having to actively steer, accelerate and brake as long as the driver keeps a light touch on the wheel.
The new Golf is also the first Volkswagen to link up with its environment as standard with a collective intelligence system called Car2X which is able to gather information provided by other vehicles within a radius of up to 800 metres in addition to signals from the traffic infrastructure to warn drivers of imminent problems and also forward these warnings to other Car2X models.
It's the dawn of a new phase of road safety, according to Volkswagen which plans to roll out the Car2X system as standard on other models "within only a very short time".
In Europe the new model will be available in four grades - Golf, Life, Style, R-Line and GTE - but the UK line-up will feature the familiar S, SE, SEL and R-Line spec plus the new plug-in hybrid GTE model. High performance GTi and Golf R hot hatches will follow later next year.
Exact power options and equipment levels for UK models will be announced nearer to the Golf Mk 8's arrival in UK dealers in Spring next year but the base model is likely to mirror the spec of European entry level version which come with LED headlights and tail light clusters, keyless start, digital instruments, a 10-inch Infotainment system, mobile online services and functions, a multifunction steering wheel, automatic air conditioning, lane-keeping system, turn-off and front area assist via an area monitoring system, a predictive pedestrian protection system and the Car2X system.