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Volkswagen Golf GTI (Mk8) – interior and tech

This is where things start to go wrong; at least the driving position’s good

Evo rating
  • Balanced, agile and responsive chassis; good variability within its drive modes
  • Expensive, and that’s before options; user interface is a mess; not actually that engaging

As with all Golf 8s the new GTI’s interior takes a minimalist approach to its design, and highlights a tech-forward nature to its interfaces – for better or worse. Key GTI elements are present and correct, it’s worth noting. Tartan trim is standard on the base GTI, and the driving position and overall refinement are also very good.

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The dual-screen layout of the interior might highlight a simplified aesthetic with bright, glossy screens, but the actual interface within those displays is still a major bugbear. The menus are indistinct and unclear, the response time still laggy (although constant updates are improving this) and to complete almost any task takes too long and is too distracting.

The only controls outside of the screens are touch-sensitive rather than physical. Main control options, including nav, media, heating/ventilation and driver assistance options, are accessible via a small and unresponsive pad between the vent outlets. These at least work as shortcuts to the main functions, but once into those menus, any functionality is still far too difficult to achieve. Volume and temperature are controlled via a slider at the base of the screen, which means you can’t use that ledge to locate your hand while driving – and it’s also unlit, making it very difficult to ascertain where the slider is at night.

The touch-sensitive steering wheel controls are just as bad – they’re unresponsive and don’t easily become intuitive, even with prolonged use. They also emit a noticeable amount of heat, which is nice in winter, but not so much in hot weather. Where fitted, they also contain the heated steering wheel control, which is all too easy to activate accidentally as the pad extends naturally into where your grip would hold the steering wheel at three and nine.

This all sounds damning, and the truth is the interior of the Golf has gone from a model of high-quality, efficient design to one that feels like it’s been thought out by software engineers that don’t actually drive cars. A silver lining would be a continuation of the Golf’s unmatched build quality, but both perceived and actual have taken a noticeable drop, something not easily explained considering the substantial rise in prices for all models.

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