Volkswagen has taken a gamble with the design of its new Golf.
The eighth generation to wear the badge, expected to go on sale here early next year, features a dashboard that has been completely digitalised, with touch controls for just about everything.
It marks a complete break in style in a car that has always been evolutionary rather than revolutionary, in a bid to retain its strong and loyal buyer base.
Moreover, virtually all the controls in the cars are now digital, replacing the usual brace of traditional, hardwired switches.
The Digital Cockpit, which comes standard in the new Golf, encompasses the instrument cluster, infotainment system and a multi-function steering wheel.
Volkswagen says touch sliders enable quick and intuitive access to temperature and volume controls, while a touch island under the infotainment system also provides direct access to additional functions such as air conditioning, assistance systems, driving modes and parking assistants.
Light and vision functions have also been brought together and repositioned in a second touch island, located higher up the dashboard and to the left of the instruments.
In combination with an optional 10.0-inch Discover Pro top navigation system, the Innovision Cockpit offers an even larger range of functions.
Optional head-up display can project information such as speed and navigation instructions in the driver’s field of vision.
The roof console has also been digitised, with a simple swipe of the finger to open or tilt a sunroof if fitted.
New, natural voice control is also available and can be activated by simply saying the words “Hello Volkswagen”.
The Golf will respond to intuitive voice commands such as “Take me home” (navigation) or “I’m cold” (automatic air conditioner).
New, digital microphones, deliver near perfect quality for phone calls and can locate who is speaking, whether it is the driver or front passenger and respond, for example by identifying which temperature zone needs adjusting.
Customised settings can be saved in the cloud, so they are available even with a change of driver or vehicle.
Connectivity via the cloud is enabled by an online connectivity unit (OCU) with an integrated eSIM, to which all infotainment systems are coupled as standard.
The OCU is also the interface with the ever-growing range of online-based functions and services from We Connect (with no time-related use restrictions as standard) and We Connect Plus (time-limited use is free of charge in Europe).
In addition, an optional We Connect Fleet service has been developed for companies, for digital fleet management.
Tech junkies will no doubt be drawn to the new Golf, but older drivers could perhaps find the digital assault on their senses a little too revolutionary — perhaps even daunting.
When Volkswagen got it wrong with the Golf V, it quickly moved to a redesign.
Let’s hope the same thing doesn’t happen . . .