The new Golf looks like it's going to raise the bar again.
It was already a big surprise to learn that the 8th generation Volkswagen Golf (known to VW and its nerds as the Mk8) may not come to the US as a standard model but instead only make it here in hot-hatch GTI and R flavors due to lagging sales of the base Golf. And then there was news that the Golf's release was being pushed back entirely because its software development team was having trouble working out bugs in the car's computers, which apparently use ten times the amount of code that a typical smartphone does.
But while VW engineers were out testing software fixes, our sneaky spy photographers were able to get close to the Mk8 test car and snap pictures of the upcoming Golf's interior, giving us an idea of why VW is placing such a huge emphasis on software.
And though we've already seen a sketch of the Mk8's interior, these snapshots give us a better idea of the direction Volkswagen is taking with the new Golf. Placing the images side-by-side with the current Mk7 reveals huge stylistic changes that show how Volkswagen is taking inspiration from Audi for the new Golf's interior.
One of the most obvious improvements is a dual screen setup that merges a large digital gauge cluster with an equally large infotainment screen sitting center-dash, much like Mercedes does with its high-end models. Rather than placing the infotainment screen in the dash like the Mk7, the Mk8's screen sticks out above it like the screens in most Audis. And like an Audi, the Mk8's dashboard is no longer one flat panel that faces the driver. Instead, it features a stepped design, with the bottom section giving a home to the HVAC controls while the upper portion is separated from the bottom and pushed back towards the windshield.
A closer look at the two screens reveals the obvious, that Volkswagen will use both units to display almost all pertinent driving information. If that's the case, we're glad Volkswagen is taking the extra time to ensure that its software is working perfectly. While an engineer's laptop is positioned in a way that makes it hard to tell if the infotainment system is all touch-based or controlled by a knob on the center console, it doesn't block the stick shift that seems to be taking the place of a gear selector.
Whether a three-pedal version makes it to America and preserves the manual Golf for another generation remains to be seen, but you know where our hopes lie.