Volkswagen Golf ranks 4th in Wheels Car of the Year 2022 category
Atotal goodness. Fusing virtues in design and execution while barely putting a tire wrong, Volkswagen’s 48-year-old Golf nameplate has taken COTY’s top spot three times in the event’s history. . And sticking largely to its well-worn, inimitable formula, the new Mk8 seemed well equipped to scale the heap of competitors like Generations One (1976), Six (2009) and Seven (2013) had done before.
The Life, repositioned as entry-level for MY22 at $34,250, flies the Golf torch in the latest COTY battle as a value-laden variant and perhaps Wolfsburg’s signature small sedan at its purest concept. The races on the board in the run-up saw life ship the popular Mazda 3 and Hyundai i30 in a three-way comparison (wheelsJanuary ’22).
Moreover, the Base Note would, in 2021, garner deeper praise than its more exalted GTI sibling could muster against their respective competitive sets.
A new generation, a new face and a redesign with its newly streamlined approach to cabin design are notable highlights, none meddling much of the Golf’s tried, true and familiar elements at the heart of its wide-ranging appeal.
Yet it’s been established early in the COTY hullabaloo, on the tours, that much of what happens beneath the Mk8’s sleeker front is largely carried over, especially its 1.4-litre engine in some form familiar 110kW and 250Nm, plus the MQB fundamentals that made its Mk7 leave many favors in victory nine years ago.
“In a way, it’s really a Golf seven point five point five,” Dylan said.
Indeed, the move from the Mk7’s dual-clutch transmission to a torque-converter automatic, while noticeably improving handling and refinement, marks perhaps the most significant change and ultimately the most tangible improvement. . For a new model, there’s little other mechanical or technological advancement beneath what still remains a largely familiar skin.
“Has golf design really changed, ever?” observes Richard.
Dan was a little harsher on Mk8, blaming the style for having “seven and seven point five back”.
In all honesty, the exterior design is one area where Volkswagen clearly doesn’t want to spoil the success too much. “The company knows its customers,” said Richard. While the lack of design evolution didn’t exactly win the judges’ favor, the changed areas – the look of the headlights, for example – weren’t seen as a big improvement either.
Likewise, the cabin’s new minimalist theme – Golf’s centerpiece adorned with striking digital window dressing and festooned with strip-style switches and knobs – drew mixed reviews from the judges.
“The layout of the Spartan dashboard looks great, but the UI approach negatively impacted functionality,” Dan noted. “HVAC controls are fiddly and don’t turn on at night.”
“The interior is smooth if bordering on austere,” observed Richard. “The on-screen graphics are impressive if a bit enigmatic and you really need to familiarize yourself with the systems before embarking on a journey.”
“Evergreen golf once again transcends the mainstream class” – Jez Spinks
The neat transmission switch and array of park buttons won praise for their quick one-touch convenience, but the UI’s reliance on buttons and sliders was criticized for being too clunky and distracting on the move. Despite the novelty factor, the new approach seems ill-suited to a line of models whose reputation is largely based on well-resolved interior execution and ergonomics.
Despite this, the Golf remains a benchmark for smart packaging, with the judges applauding the Mk8 for its space and practical trunk.
Then, on the move – thrust into the AARC proving ground amusement park – the Volkswagen delivered big. No matter how it’s driven, the Golf has a certain synergy in its powertrain and chassis that’s wonderfully resolved. There’s a maturity to the Golf’s manner and depth to its execution that truly deserves the mantle of ‘quintessential contemporary sedan’, its pleasingly lithe and alert nature is the antithesis of COTY’s many heavyweight hitters.
Ride and bump control are wonderfully measured, even in Life’s base tune passive, with its organic engagement enhanced by lovely steering clarity and uncanny balance, whether on sealed or broken surfaces.
“It’s a superbly polished little car,” said Alex. “The steering is light, there’s excellent ride compliance and the ESC calibration is quite good.”
Its powertrain is also obedient and resolute, the four-cylinder turbo full of character when pushed and perfectly matched to the package. Press down and there’s a real warm vibe to its dynamic responses and the way it engages the driver, piling on an innate, ingrained fun factor that’s truly surprising for a device that, for all appearances, promises next to no sporting claim.
“The 1.4 turbo offers all the power and torque that this category of Golf needs,” said Jez, an opinion unanimously shared by the judges. “Fizzy and responsive,” added Alex.
While Golf’s overall quality landed its Guernsey for COTY competition, it was almost entirely the driving experience that earned it runner-up status. And, therefore, sending a quarter-mil new-school Porsche Taycan EV tested in the process. That’s quite the reward in itself.
In the finalist road loops, the judges felt the Golf continued to punch well above its weight in the company of a more expensive and more elaborate set of machines. Even driving without much sympathy, the actual consumption simply refused to sail north of the six-litre mark, which was truly impressive.
The trade-off is that, on big tours, the modest 1.4-litre turbo engine has to give its all on long climbs when the car is fully loaded.
“It has a bit of magic that a lot of other COTY competitors lack,” Dylan said. “It kind of mesmerizes you with the way he drives.”
But in Australia, at least, we don’t see Golf at its most advanced, at least in terms of powertrain technology.
“Would be nice to see some of the hybrid powertrains in Europe offered locally,” commented Jez.
Despite its fine execution and efforts to refresh and refine its appeal in its eighth generation, a recurring topic among the judges was whether Volkswagen was now just rolling its arm with its internal combustion. prodigy now that it is investing wholeheartedly in a future electric ID3.
“The bigger question is what will happen to Golf if ID3 takes off?” Dylan posed.
And, by extension, the judges pondered throughout the COTY event whether Volkswagen’s Golf concept, now as firmly entrenched as any automotive icon, is nearing its twilight faster than many those who know and love him might think so.
|Engine||1395cc 4cyl turbo petrol|
|Able||110 kW at 5000 rpm|
|Couple||250Nm @ 1500-4000rpm|
|Transmission||8-speed automatic, front-wheel drive|
|Length Width Height||4284/1789/1456mm|
|Security||5 stars (ANCAP)|
|Weight (heavier than expected)||56kg|
|Noise at 100km/h||69.4db|