HOW can a car that seems to have been around forever still surprise in its eighth incarnation?
Well Volkswagen's designers have had a good go with the futuristic cabin of the latest Golf where your first thought is - where are all the buttons?
The interior is dominated by a digital ‘innovision' cockpit where two ten-inch displays tell you all you want to know driving-wise on one, while giving access to the car's infotainment system on the other.
Sliders and touch panels replace traditional buttons and dials for all the key functions, but getting the volume for the radio how you want it can prove a bit problematic via the touch-sensitive slider below the main screen.
That's where the multi-function steering wheel comes in handy putting controls at your thumb tips allowing you to change radio station and sound level without having to take your eyes off the road.
There is also voice activation control which allows you to perform neat tricks like telling the car your hands are cold prompting the heated steering wheel to be activated to warm them up.
It is one of a number of creature comforts - including full smartphone connectivity available via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, sat nav, a DAB digital radio, parking sensors front and rear, keyless entry and ignition, plus speed sensitive power assisted steering - that ensure even the entry-level Life model lacks for little when it comes to mod cons.
Once attuned to the Digital Cockpit Pro set-up, the minimalist cabin design and an environment free of clutter is pleasing on the eye and calming on the senses.
The hatchback boasts top-notch levels of comfort as there is plenty of room for four adults and a decent driving position is easily attained while the boot is reasonably spacious at 381 litres with the rear seats upright.
The latest Golf also offers Car2X which is a motor-to-motor wireless communication system where similarly kitted out cars from different brands can exchange information on things like hazards on the road ahead and traffic jams. Thankfully the set-up does not allow them to swap gossip on their respective drivers' motoring foibles and at present not many vehicles have it so the opportunity for them to chat is limited.
As far as the exterior is concerned, Volkswagen have stuck with evolution rather than revolution so the profile of the Mk 8 model is still instantly recognisable as a Golf despite the slimmer black radiator grille, narrow LED self-levelling headlights and rear roof spoiler. There are also body-coloured bumpers, door handles and mirrors as well as 16-inch alloy wheels.
Power is provided by a 1.5-litre 130ps petrol engine that, in cahoots with a slick six-speed manual gearbox, propels the front-wheel drive Golf from a standing start to 62mph in a shade over nine seconds on its way to a claimed top speed of 133mph.
The engine sips juice frugally - thanks to a stop/go system and VW's Active Cylinder Technology - with official WLTP figures recording combined fuel economy of 52.3mpg and carbon dioxide emissions of 123g/km.
The suspension absorbs the worst our roads can throw at it ensuring a smooth ride while the handling is nimble thanks to ballerina-like balance and decent levels of grip. It is a cracking all-rounder equally at home zipping along country lanes or cruising on motorways.