Volkswagen Golf Life


Volkswagen Golf, front
Volkswagen Golf, front
Volkswagen Golf, front
Volkswagen Golf, front
Volkswagen Golf, rear
Volkswagen Golf, front
Volkswagen Golf, interior

HOW do you design a new, even more appealing version of a car which over the decades has achieved sales of 35 million?

That was the daunting dilemma facing the team taxed with creating the new Mk 8 Volkswagen Golf.

They knew they could play around a little with the exterior design but the latest version still had to be instantly recognisable as the car which is synonymous with the success of the German car maker.

So the answer, they decided, was to revolutionise the inside - making it the most intelligent and connected version yet.

Glance inside at the dashboard of the new model and all you'll see is gloss black panelling. No clocks no dials and hardly any switches.

It's only when you open the door that the "Innovision" cockpit, as VW calls it, bursts in life.

This is made up of a 10-inch active info display immediately in front of the driver and a separate, centre set, 10-inch screen for the infotainment system. Think Knight Rider.

It's all clever stuff, offering you a positive myriad of settings and more information packages than you can imagine. If you love technology you'll be in your element.

In fact this model is so advanced that it's the first VW to have a car-to-car communication system which lets it exchange information with other similarly equipped models about hazards on the road ahead, traffic jams or even emergency service vehicles heading into the area you're driving in.

The move to create a more minimalist cockpit means even the switch to control the sunroof has gone, replaced by a touch sensitive pad you gently draw your finger along to open the glass panel.

But sometimes less is more. And many of the new innovations mean three or even four operations on the touch screen to achieve what you want and that means more time with your eyes off the road which may be progress but not always sensible progress.

Nevertheless the Golf Mk8 is a real innovation - once you master everything and voice control does let you carry out numerous functions.

The front end is sleeker and more stylish but you will have no difficulty recognising it as a Golf because like previous generations of this best seller the external changes have been evolutionary rather than revolutionary.

And even if you had any doubts they would soon disappear when you open one of the doors at night to find the road you are standing on illuminated by the image of a giant golf ball. Nice touch.

The Life model driven here is the entry level grade although the 150bhp engine is one up from the base 130bhp one.

And, a little like Golfs before it, it does exactly what it says on the tin. It's spacious, comfortable, solidly built and has doors which close with a nice clunk and very little effort.

On the road it's impressively quiet even at high speed and handles well albeit with a slightly soft suspension.

To get the best out of the 1.5-litre model you have to wind up the revs but if you do this Golf delivers.

It also delivers on the economy front thanks in part to a system which cuts out two of the four cylinders when you are driving at a steady speed. Over a week's motoring I managed to average 51 miles per gallon.

LED lighting is now standard on all Golf models but you can opt for VW's brilliant - both literally and figuratively - matrix headlights which take all the stress out of night driving but are expensive at £1,750.

Other bonuses on the car driven here included a head-up display (£625 but worth every penny) and a rear view camera (£300 but another must).

The car comes with the full five star safety rating so there's plenty of safety equipment on board to protect the family although surprisingly no rear cross traffic alert to warn you of moving cars as you back out of a supermarket parking space.


Volkswagen Golf Life 1.5

Price: £24,500

Mechanical: 150ps, 1,498cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 139mph

0-62mph: 8.5 seconds

Combined MPG: 52.2

Insurance Group: 19

C02 emissions: 125 g/km

Bik rating: 29%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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