Huge change for new VW Golf
The new Volkswagen Golf 8 will launch in Australia with a conventional automatic transmission as opposed to the brand's divisive "DSG" dual-clutch auto.
Set to arrive in the second quarter of 2021, the machine will be powered by a 1.4-litre, 110kW turbo petrol engine mated to an eight-speed Aisin automatic.
Die-hard manual fans can choose one model - the entry-level Golf priced from $29,350 plus on-road costs in three-pedal form, or $31,950 plus on-roads as an auto.
That makes it significantly more expensive than the Mazda3 or Toyota Corolla, which start at
$26,590 and $24,370 plus on-roads in automatic form.
The mid-range Golf Life adds a higher level of standard equipment for $34,250 plus on-road costs, while the range-topping Golf R-Line brings big alloy wheels, sporty looks and further tech for $37,450 plus on-roads.
Full specifications for the model will be confirmed closer to its launch.
Bur we do know the model will have strong standard safety features, including autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, reverse auto braking, adaptive cruise control, traffic jam assistance, rear cross traffic alert and much more.
A new interior replaces many physical buttons with capacitive-touch surfaces.
VW has ruled out a local introduction of "on demand" subscription services from the model's launch. Overseas models are ready to roll out pay-as-you-go connections to premium digital services, something rival brands such as BMW and Tesla have experimented with.
Australia's sub-par fuel standards and lack of government-mandated emissions targets prompted Volkswagen to choose not to offer its latest engines here. Instead, our Golf has the same engine as before, albeit mated to a conventional auto.
That news will be welcomed by some customers, as the brand's DSG dual-clutch has a mixed history here. While it offers superior performance and economy, DSG has been criticised for occasionally hesitant or jerky behaviour around town. Early examples were the source of widespread recalls at home and abroad.
Michael Bartsch, managing director of Volkswagen Group Australia, said DSG troubles were "old history", and a change to a conventional auto won't affect sales.
"I don't think it's terribly much of an issue anymore," he said.
"Some people will remember that we had problems with it and may have experienced it, but I think there's a big enough gap now that it's fairly clear that transmissions have certainly moved on since then.
"We're in a very different phase of Volkswagen … we've moved on enough to be able to park a lot of those concerns."
DSG transmissions will remain in the Golf GTI and Golf R performance cars.
Dual-clutch autos are falling out of favour with some brands. BMW has largely dropped them from its range in favour of eight-speed automatics, offering a similar transmission to the Golf in compact cars such as the 1-Series. A heavy-duty auto replaces dual-clutch transmissions in the new BMW M3 and M4, a decision Audi already took with its RS 4 and RS 5 performance cars.
VW expects the Golf to be overtaken by its Tiguan SUV as Australia's favourite new VW in 2021.
On sale alongside the Golf in the second quarter of next year, the Tiguan brings tech such as wireless Apple CarPlay and Android auto, matrix LED headlights and the option of a Harman Kardon stereo.
Entry-level Tiguan models have the same engine as the Golf, while premium variants bring 2.0-litre petrol or diesel engines with all-wheel-drive and DSG transmissions.
Originally published as Huge change for new VW Golf