After all the rumours and spy shots - here it is folks, the all-new eighth-generation Volkswagen Golf. No, really, this is it. Yes, it does look mighty similar to the Mk7.5 and you have to look very carefully to spot the exterior changes – but you’ll be picking your jaw off the floor when you see the new-look interior.

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Unveiled at VW’s Wolfsburg headquarters, the Golf – which has sold more than 35 million units since it was launched in 1974 – runs on the same MQB platform and sits 4,284mm long, 1,789mm wide and 1,456mm high and has a wheelbase of 2,636mm making it almost exactly the same in size as the predecessor.

The minor styling changes include a thinner grille and sharper headlights with LED technology as standard that are joined by a new chrome strip running from end to end and through the VW roundel.

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Around the back, it features a new raised rear bumper with the ‘Golf’ script written beneath the VW logo while design boss Klaus Bischoff and his team also gave the profile a tweak with a new contoured C-pillar but overall the changes are very subtle.

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The biggest changes come inside with the new cabin a minimalist affair and it looks very contemporary. The top section of the dash appears to sit on a ‘table’ with the air vents below an indented line. The physical controls are grouped together near the steering wheel to help give the cabin an uncluttered look and feel. Touch-sensitive digital sliders have replaced many buttons.

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Two screens are the dominant feature inside; a 10in infotainment system (fully customizable, and with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as standard) and a standard 10.25in digital cockpit display. The interior dimensions are also pretty similar to the old car and if looks much bigger it’s likely due to the clever design packaging.

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The other big news is that the newbie gets a 48-volt mild-hybrid system combined with a seven-speed automatic and it recovers energy when the car slows down. It then redeploys up to 16bhp of electric boost under acceleration which VW says will make moving away from standstill much smoother and this tech will be available with both versions of the 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol (128bhp and 148bhp), plus the 109bhp version of a 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo. The entry-level 89bhp 1.0 TSI doesn’t get the hybrid-tech and there also won’t be an all-electric variant either – because that’s what the ID.3 is for.

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Later next year, the hotter GTI variant will be launched with a 241bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged motor and in 2021 should come the R.

Ralf Brandstätter, Chief Operating Officer of Volkswagen Passenger Cars: “The Golf is the original. The model that has defined our brand over decades. The Golf has consistently made new technologies available for everyone. And this has never been so true as today. Because this time we are bringing features from the premium segment into the compact class – which is, again, typically for Volkswagen.”