The Volkswagen Golf is one of the world’s best-selling cars, with more than 35 million units sold since its inception way back in the mid-1970s. Now, the German carmaker has unveiled the latest chapter in the Golf’s history by introducing the eighth-generation of the hatchback, which has been significantly redesigned inside and out.

In its new form, the Mk8 Golf’s dimensions has been altered slightly from the outgoing Mk7.5, as it now measures 4,284 mm in length (+26 mm), 1,789 mm wide (-10 mm) and 1,456 mm tall (-36 mm), with a wheelbase that spans 2,636 mm (-1 mm). The car rides on Volkswagen Group’s MQB platform, and retains the MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension setup as before.

While the overall shape does look distinctly familiar – think Mk7.5 – Volkswagen says that the new Golf is more slippery than ever with a drag coefficient of 0.275. The company went with an evolutionary approach rather than a revolutionary one when it came to styling the hatchback, with revamped front and rear ends.

In the case of the former, there’s now a much slimmer front grille that bears the company’s latest logo in the middle. This is flanked by more slender LED headlamps with a trailing “tail” on each cluster that leads towards the front wheel arches, as well as J-shaped integrated LED DRLs that also double as turn signal indicators.

As a cost option, the standard LED setup can be swapped out for an IQ.Light system – indicated on the headlamps’ “tails” and within the taillight clusters – where matrix LED units are fitted instead. In operation, the lighting units can switch on or off specific sections so as not to disrupt other motorists, reduce glare from traffic signs, adjust for corners and poor weather as well as being indicators.

Further down, there is a wide-width intake that is accentuated by horizontal slats running across it, which features body-coloured or silver accents on them. This look is applicable for cars with the Style trim, while R-Line-equipped units get a more expressive bumper that replaces the slats with triangular-shaped elements, a rectangular mesh design and adds on black garnishing around the lower intake.

A third look the company is showing off is for the GTE plug-in hybrid variant (we’ll get to that later on), where the black garnishing of the R-Line is retained, but the intake only sports a honeycomb mesh insert. Other model-specific cues include a charging port on the left side of the vehicle and a light bar on the grille.

Looking at the rear of the new Golf, we find two-piece headlamps that are smaller in size than before, and they come with a slight kink at their base. The reshaped tailgate also provides a larger boot space aperture for easier loading of items, and we get to see the new “Golf” script that sits just below the badge cover – a cue seen on more recent Volkswagen models like the T-Roc.

Another change is the slimmer reflectors, which are now positioned higher up and in line with the top of the number plate holder. While the Style trim has covered-off “exhausts” with decorative trim around it, the R-Line gets trapezoidal-shaped ones with actual cutouts on either side.

If the exterior redesign is a little bit too “safe” for you, the same can’t be said of the interior. There is an entirely new multi-tier dashboard layout here, with many of the controls for the car’s functions placed higher and closer to the steering wheel and instruments.

Dominating the dash is a touchscreen display, which is available in either 8.25-inch or 10-inch sizes, and linked to Volkswagen’s latest MIB3 infotainment system. Aside from the usual mix of media and connected services, there’s an eSIM to ensure you’re always online and keeps the system up to date, with a voice assistant on hand if you prefer to talk to your car.

Just below the touchscreen is where you’ll find slider controls for quick adjustments of the climate and infotainment systems, with this interface repeated in the roof console to operate the optional sunroof. In front of the driver is a configurable 10.25-inch digital cockpit display, which can be further augmented with an optional windscreen-projected head-up display. To the left of this are glossy black buttons to control the car’s lights instead of a circular dial in the outgoing model.

Just below the upper portion of the dash is a full-width trim piece, which features integrated air vents, bits of the car’s ambient lighting system and additional buttons for the climate control, driver assistance systems, driver mode selector and parking assistance system.

Meanwhile, the centre console gets two configurations depending on the chosen transmission, with cars equipped with a manual sporting a more archaic look with a round start button and large switchgear for the electronic parking brake and brake hold function.

As for automatic variants, there’s now a small rocker knob acting as the gear selector, which is reminiscent of what is in the latest 992 Porsche 911. This is placed in line with the start button and electronic parking brake controls, freeing up space for a small cubby. Both setups share similar stowage spaces, with one located just below the USB C ports, the two cupholders and under the centre armrest.

There’s no shortage of technology either, as the Golf is offered with Travel Assist, which calls upon the car’s adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist to enable assisted driving at speeds of up to 210 km/h. The new Golf is also the first Volkswagen model to feature Car-to-X Communication (Car2X) to trade information with other vehicles and roadside infrastructure within an 800-metre radius.

When the Golf goes on sale later in December, it will be available with five hybrid drive systems, including three mild hybrid options dubbed eTSI. These are mild-hybrid powertrains that operate on 48-volt tech, featuring a belt starter generator mounted directly to a seven-speed dual-clutch DSG, a lithium-ion battery and TSI engines. There are three output levels available, with the 1.0 litre TSI rated at 110 PS, while the 1.5 litre TSI version provides either 130 PS or 150 PS. Volkswagen claims the tech reduces fuel consumption by around 10% by allowing for engine-off coasting and increased acceleration due to electric boosting.

The line-up also includes two eHybrid plug-in hybrid variants, starting with a standard version rated at 204 PS, while the more powerful GTE model serves up 245 PS. Both utilise a 13-kWh lithium-ion battery, which gives an EV range of approximately 60 km, along with a 1.4 litre four-cylinder TSI base engine and six-speed DSG.

For non-hybrid options, the petrol camp includes a 1.0 litre turbocharged three-cylinder with 90 PS or 110 PS and a 1.5 litre turbocharged four-cylinder with 130 PS or 150 PS, all with a six-speed manual gearbox. Volkswagen also offers a 2.0 litre four-cylinder TDI with either 115 PS or 150 PS, which can be ordered with a manual gearbox or DSG, with the 150 PS version optionally available with 4Motion all-wheel drive. Lastly, there’s a 1.5 litre four-cylinder TGI engine running on compressed natural gas with 130 PS.