New Volkswagen Golf Mk.8 constantly communicates with other cars
Europe's most popular car gets a big update for 2020. The new 8th-gen VW Golf comes in with lots of hybrid options, way less buttons, and a standard Car2X "swarm intelligence" system designed to communicate with other cars and infrastructure.
If you were expecting an e-Golf, best get that out of your system now. The ID.3 will be Volkswagen's electric hatch, and that's no bad thing; it's built from the ground up to take advantage of its compact electric powertrain, where trying to shoehorn it into the Golf range would be a compromise.
Speaking of compromises, about the best compromise you can currently make between the noisy fun and long range of combustion cars and the clean, quiet, torquey zip of an electric is to get yourself a hybrid. And the new Golf will offer a ton of hybrid options.
Choosing a Golf will be a right old pain in the backside, with no less than ten powertrains to confuse yourself with. There will be three "mild hybrid" eTSI versions designed to give you a bit of shunt off the line and reduce fuel consumption by about 10%. Power outputs for these will be 108, 128 and 148 horsepower.
Then there's two plug-in hybrids, each with 13 kWh worth of battery on board, enabling an all-electric range around 37 miles (60 km). These are the most powerful of the new Golfs, the "efficiency focused" version offering 200 horsepower and the sporty GTE making a range-topping 242 horses.
And finally, for the unwashed, uncaring or underfunded, there's the dinosaur burners, which come in 89- and 108-horsepower 4-cylinder petrol flavors, 113- and 148-horsepower diesel flavors (twin-catalyzed to emit 80% less nitrogen oxides and said to be 17% more efficient than their predecessors), and a 128-horsepower high-efficiency TSI flavor that burns natural gas. Ah, the flavor of natural gas. Clearly, the emphasis here is on the hybrids.
The new Golfs will be chatty creatures, and among the first big sellers to include vehicle-to-anything (V2X) communications as standard. Volkswagen's Car2X "swarm intelligence" system uses a Wi-Fi system to talk to other cars and roadside infrastructure up to 800 meters (2600 feet) away, whether or not the car's SIM card can reach a data service.
That means cars can send each other warnings of collisions, traffic bank-ups and other unusual conditions, allowing both the cruise control systems and human drivers to be pre-warned of what's coming up. It will also allow cars to talk to traffic lights and other infrastructure as these capabilities begin to get built in.
The other big news, according to VW, is in the completely redesigned interior. Kiss your buttons goodbye, just about everything's going digital in the new Golfs, accessible either through touchscreens, touch buttons, touch sliders, or through a "hello Volkswagen" voice assistant. This will likely make total sense to younger drivers, whose primary interactions with machines are almost exclusively touch-based now. And it will likely annoy older drivers who like things a bit more tactile. Tough luck, fogeys, the world is moving on without you.
There's keyless entry using your mobile phone. There's in-car internet to keep the kids quiet, a tidy heads-up display to keep your eyes on the road, and multicolored LED ambient lighting to ... well, I guess to make it feel like you're sitting in a space disco pod or something.
The new look is a little slimmer, a little sharper, a little sportier. But whatever you think of it, get ready to see a ton of them on the road; we see no reason why the new Golfs won't be just as popular as their predecessors. Check out a video below.