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 its multifunction steering wheel.
"The real revolution is in the interior," said Nicole Hempe, the Golf's product marketing manager. "With the Innovision Cockpit, analog dials are history."
The eighth-generation Golf is also the first VW brand car to date to have Car2X technology. This allows the vehicle to communicate with other cars up to 875 yards away. The feature will, for example, enable the Golf to warn drivers coming up from behind that traffic has stopped, or to alert the Golf's driver when an emergency vehicle is 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, provided 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 user platform, marketed as We, 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 hot spot for connecting to the Internet.
Settings can be stored in the cloud via a user profile for everything from the dashboard layout to ambient lighting and seating preferences. That profile will migrate with the driver to other vehicles that are equipped with the third-generation of VW's MIB infotainment system. That system 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 radio volume 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, that doesn't result in much of a fuel-savings benefit, because of the test-cycle parameters. But engineers say customers will see real real-world benefits because the engine can deactivate entirely when the foot is taken off the accelerator, known as sailing.
The Golf is underpinned by Volkswagen's updated MQB architecture. Its electrical wiring was overhauled to add the latest iteration of fast-data processing, using the CAN FD flexible data-rate standard to boost the volume capacity for data transfer. This allowed elements such as the 48-volt battery and digital cockpit to be incorporated into the vehicle.