The interior layout, fit and finish
The Golf GTE has a figure-hugging driver’s seat that locks you in place when cornering hard. It’s manually adjustable for height and lumbar support, and complemented by an adjustable steering wheel. Along with pedals that are placed perfectly in front of you, you should feel right at home from the off. An electric driver’s seat with memory is available, in conjunction with leather upholstery, seat heating and cooling.
Visibility isn't a problem. The GTE has a large windscreen and side windows, plus relatively slim front pillars. The rear pillars are a bit chunky, but, given that all GTE’s come with front and rear parking sensors as standard, you shouldn’t find that too much of an issue. We’d recommend the optional rear-view camera, because it’s not a massive premium and helps out when reversing. Adaptive matrix LED headlights and LED front fog lights are included and make night-time driving an easier and safer experience.
Many of its rivals, from the Audi A3 TFSIe to the Mercedes A250e, come with proper buttons, which are so much easier to operate. There aren’t even any physical buttons on its steering wheel – just more touch-sensitive buttons that are equally as fiddly.
And then there’s the infotainment touchscreen. The system’s software was clearly designed to look good above being intuitive, so you find features buried in locations that make absolutely no sense. And even when you find what you want, the software is as responsive as a dead slug much of the time, and prone to crashing. The A3 TFSIe and the A250e have much better systems, and from our experience, the Seat Leon’s and Skoda Octavia’s infotainment, which uses similar hardware to the Golf’s but different software, are also better.
If you think the Golf’s optional natural speech voice control system will rescue you, it won’t. Firstly, it’s a very expensive option, and secondly, it's hit and miss at the best of times and won't understand a thing if your kids are playing war games in the back.
On the plus side, the 10.0in screen is mounted high up and it’s high definition, while Apple CarPlay/Android Auto phone integration are standard, along with wireless phone charging, a DAB radio, Bluetooth and sat-nav.
The interior quality is another slight bugbear. It's barely any better than the Leon’s and certainly not up to the high standards laid down by previous Golfs, with a lot more cheaper-feeling plastics scattered liberally about. However, it runs the Octavia iV close, and while the A250e is a lot more exciting to look at, none of these rivals can challenge the classy feel and quality of the A3 TFSIe.
For a more detailed look at the Volkswagen Golf’s interior, check out our main VW Golf review.