After the photos were leaked yesterday through various outlets, it’s now here officially. Meet the 2020 Volkswagen Golf, now in its eighth generation since first going on sale in 1974. VW’s iconic hatch has come a long way since those early days, and that’s reflected in this car from end to end. New styling, new technology and eight different powertrain options, from standard gas models to plug-in hybrids.
Before getting into the numbers, there’s a quick caveat here. While Volkswagen confirmed we will get the new Golf GTI and Golf R, things aren’t quite so certain for the standard Golf. The company said the standard Golf “is still under consideration for the North American market.”
Looking at the 2020 Volkswagen Golf side-by-side with its direct Mk7 ancestor, the overall dimensions are nearly the same. Overall, the new model is longer, narrower and slightly shorter in height than its predecessor. Here’s how they compare on paper:
|Dimension||2020 VW Golf Mk8||2019 VW Golf Mk7.5||Difference|
|Wheelbase||103.8 in.||103.8 in.||None|
|Length||168.6 in.||167.6 in.||+1.0 in.|
|Width||70.4 in.||70.8 in.||-0.4 in.|
|Height||57.3 in.||58.2 in.||-0.9 in.|
Powertrains across the Golf range
The 2020 Volkswagen Golf claims a lower drag coefficient of 0.275. As for those eight powertrains, not all of them would make it to the U.S., even if the standard Golf is green-lit for sale here. In other markets, however, Volkswagen will launch the new Golf with a variety of 48-volt mild hybrid, plug-in and diesel powertrains. Engine sizes range from a 1.0-liter three-cylinder mill with 89 horsepower up to a new range of 2.0-liter four-cylinder units with around 300 horsepower for the upcoming Golf R.
Thankfully, Volkswagen is sticking with six-speed manual options across its gasoline and diesel engine range as well. When the Golf GTI arrives on our shores, it will still have a three-pedal option as well as the next iteration of the company’s DSG transmission. Volkswagen’s mild hybrid units will pair exclusively to the DSG, while the plug-in hybrid and GTE variants will get their own six-speed DSG to complement the electric drive motor and 13 kWh battery pack.
The 2020 Volkswagen Golf features more technology than in the previous Mk7, including “Car2X” communication. Beyond just incrementally improving its powertrains, the new way forward for modern cars is communication traffic information to other vehicles around them. The new Golf will be the first model to carry this system, while Volkswagen says it can transmit relevant traffic and infrastructure information to other vehicles up to about half a mile (800 meters) away.
The 2020 Volkswagen Golf also features Travel Assist, a hands-on driver assistance package aimed to offer semi-autonomous driving up to about 130 mph. The system does use capacitive sensor technology so the driver needs to just touch the wheel, but the system will audibly warn the driver and jolt the brakes if the driver lets go for more than 15 seconds. If the driver doesn’t react, the car will activate its Emergency Assist system and bring itself to a stop.
New Matrix LED headlights
On the safety front, the 2020 Volkswagen Golf also features the traditional range of driver assistance features, including automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, and so on. The Golf also features VW’s DCC adaptive chassis control, which allows for multiple driving modes. The top-spec Golfs will also get “ID. Light” matrix LED headlights, a more advanced system that debuted on the current-generation, European-spec Touareg and Passat.
Digital Cockpit, updated infotainment
Connectivity is a key part of the 2020 Volkswagen Golf, and that extends to the car’s updated infotainment systems. Unlike the Mk7 Golf, this new Mk8 features the company’s 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit instrument cluster as standard equipment. Beyond that, an 8.25-inch online-connected touchscreen comes standard, while two optional 10-inch infotainment systems are available. A head-up display is also available on high-trim models, as is a 400-watt Harman Kardon sound system.
(European) launch date
The 2020 Volkswagen Golf will launch in the European market in December. The Golf GTI should go on sale shortly thereafter, possibly hitting the U.S. sometime in 2020. Beyond that, the Golf R will reportedly launch in the U.S. as a 2021 model.
2020 Volkswagen Golf photo gallery