First Look: VW Golf Lineup

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Volkswagen revealed a first look at the 2020 Golf, which will include electrified versions.

  • VW is spending over $12 billion on fully electric vehicles, including an SUV coming to the U.S.
  • The automaker won’t abandon its traditional gas and diesel line-up, but is expanding the number of hybrid options that will be offered, including PHEVs
  • The Golf will get V2X “connected car” technology and access to “swarm intelligence”

Volkswagen is plugging into battery power in a big way, the automaker committing over $12 billion to roll out as many as 50 all-electric vehicles through its various brands by the middle of the coming decade, including the recently launched ID.3 hatchback.

The German automaker isn’t ignoring its conventional product line, however, as it’s showing with the launch of the similarly sized VW Golf. But even those traditional models are being electrified. The eighth-generation hatchback will come to market with a mix of five different hybrid powertrains, Volkswagen says, including two plug-in hybrid packages.

“The entire automobile industry expects a new Golf to set the standard,” said Volkswagen AG Chairman Herbert Diess in a statement. “In terms of its technology, the Golf is making the greatest leap forward since its debut” 45 years ago.

The new Golf will feature five different hybrid packages, including a mild system, two conventional HEVs and two plug-in hybrids. (Photo: Volkswagen)

Part of a shifting market

The debut of the next-generation Golf comes at a critical time, the auto industry undergoing a series of transformations. For one thing, millions of buyers around the world have been shifting from sedans, coupes and hatchbacks to SUVs and CUVs. That’s especially true in the U.S., where models like the Tiguan and Golf now account for 52 percent of VW brand sales, up from just 14 percent in 2016.

Meanwhile, despite a slow start, demand for battery-based vehicles is expected to rapidly accelerate during the lifecycle of the latest Golf line – if for no other reason than the increasingly stringent emissions and fuel economy mandates governments around the world are enacting.

So, VW has had to plan carefully to help ensure that the 2020 Golf can retain its position as one of the world’s best-selling vehicles.

Visually, the 2020 Golf delivers few surprises, retaining the basic profile of the existing model. The overall look is a bit more aerodynamic, with a more swoopy front end that features 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, the 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 2020 Golf gets a more refined and technically sophisticated interior, with virtual gauges, a large touchscreen, optional HUD and a V2X system. (Photo: Volkswagen)

Refinement coupled with technology

The interior appears more refined and, virtually across the line-up, replaces conventional analog gauges and switches with digital readouts and controls. The 2020 Golf also will offer a head-up display and new V2X connected car technology.

While of limited use today, V2X systems will eventually let a vehicle “talk” to highway infrastructure systems, as well as to other vehicles, for information about weather, traffic, and safety alerts. Several Audi models already advise drivers when traffic lights are about to change in cities like Las Vegas where rudimentary networks are installed.

“Swarm intelligence is becoming a reality, representing the beginning of a new phase of traffic safety,” VW said in a statement.

The 2020 Volkswagen Golf will be offered in a variety of configurations. (Photo: Volkswagen)

Powertrains will multiply

Perhaps the biggest technical push for the 2020 Volkswagen Golf comes under the hood, however.

The hatchback will continue to offer a mix of gas and diesel powertrains boasting as much as 150 horsepower – though oil-burners likely won’t come to the U.S. market as a result of the VW diesel emissions scandal.

But the 2020 Golf gets five different hybrid packages, starting with a mild, 48-volt system, two “conventional” hybrids and two plug-in hybrids. The most powerful of the PHEVs will deliver about 250 hp and, with a 13-kWh lithium-ion battery, both are expected to yield nearly 40 miles of electric-only range using the EU test cycle, a number almost certain to drop using the stricter U.S. EPA test.

VW has yet to reveal specific plans by market and it’s unclear how many of the new gas and battery-based models will make it into U.S. showrooms.


The Golf is VW’s best-selling model worldwide and the automaker wants to retain its popularity by updating its looks and adding lots more technology. The new, battery-based drivetrain options should boost fuel economy without sacrificing performance.

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