Volkswagen has rolled out the eighth generation of its hot hatchback, and the all-new 2020 VW Golf line-up includes an array of new hybrids and plug-ins to accommodate increasingly stringent global emissions and fuel economy mandates.
The gen-8 Golf also introduces new safety and comfort technologies. That includes not only a new heads-up display but also a first-time connected car system that could tap into what VW describes as “swarm intelligence,” allowing it to track traffic and weather conditions and even head off potential collisions.
“The entire automobile industry expects a new Golf to set the standard,” said Volkswagen AG Chairman Herbert Diess. “In terms of its technology, the Golf is making the greatest leap forward since its debut” 45 years ago.
The Golf has long been one of the best-selling vehicles in the world, so it’s easy to understand why the German automaker is putting so much into the new model. It also hopes that the 2020 model will help it stabilize demand in the U.S. market where the VW brand has seen a rapid shift away from sedans, coupes and hatchbacks to new SUVs like the Tiguan and Atlas.
VW hasn’t released full specs, so it’s unclear if there have been any major changes to basic specifications like length, width, height or mass – though it would come as no shock if the new hatchback were slightly lighter than the outgoing model, a factor that could improve fuel efficiency.
Visually, the 2020 Golf delivers few surprises, retaining the basic profile of the existing model. The nose drops a bit, with a broad new lower front grille and more slit-like headlamps. From the side, the doors and fenders adopt a more sculpted appearance.
“This car is completely new,” said Ralf Brandstätter, chief operating officer for Volkswagen Passenger Cars. “But of course, a Golf always remains a Golf. Because the underlying concept is timeless. This car has defined our brand over decades. The Golf has consistently made new technologies available for everyone.”
The interior appears more refined and, virtually across the line-up, replaces conventional analog gauges with digital readouts, with new touchscreen buttons and sliders replacing many classic controls. The 2020 Golf also will offer a new head-up display, or HUD, system.
And new connected car technology, known in the industry as V2X, will be offered in some markets. The system would allow the Golf to automatically connect both to a fixed infrastructure while also talking to other cars similarly equipped at a distance of nearly half a mile. That could be used to transfer information about traffic and weather and even alert a motorist if, say, another vehicle were about to run a red light.
“Swarm intelligence is becoming a reality, representing the beginning of a new phase of traffic safety,” the automaker said in a statement.
From a technical side, however, perhaps the most significant development comes with the launch of five different hybrid systems. Not all will be available in every market, but they include both mild, conventional and plug-in hybrids. In fact, there will be two PHEVs, the most powerful delivering about 250 horsepower and, with a 13 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery, bother are expected to yield up to 60 kilometers, or just under 40 miles of electric-only range – though that number will almost certainly drop using the stricter U.S. EPA test cycle.
The 2020 Volkswagen Golf also will offer the usual mix of gas and diesel powertrains of up to 150 horsepower. Based on past statements by VW officials, including Diess, the oil-burners likely won’t come to the U.S. market.
The automaker has yet to provide fuel economy and pricing information, as well as details on when the “A8” Golf will reach American showrooms.