Geneva 2020, The Show That Never Happened (But We Still Have the New VW Group Models)

Scheduled for 7th -17th March, the Geneva Motor Show was one of the first really big European events to be hit by Covid-19.  But motor show or no show, the major manufacturers still needed to publicise their newest models and updates. A flurry of press releases and live streamings have shown us what’s next in the pipeline.

So let’s take a look at what’s new from the VW Group.

Three Rounds of Golf

Incredibly, the Volkswagen Golf is now in its 44th year. Despite decades of challenges from other manufacturers, the iconic hatchback has endured. What does the eighth iteration have to offer?

As you can see, it still looks very much like a Golf. It’s roughly the same size (4.28m x 1.79m x 1.46m) and the styling has been tweaked rather than radically reworked. The designers have streamlined the headlights, made the creases along the body more pronounced and embossed the word ‘GOLF’ across the tailgate. Apart from a slightly lowered roofline, that’s about it.

Volkswagen has taken the same don’t-fix-what-isn’t-broken approach to the mechanicals, though apparently engineers have reworked the steering to be more responsive.

There are bigger changes on the interior, with the new model sporting a large touchscreen (10 inches as standard in the UK) and digital instrumentation. Other changes, including repositioning controls, have the overall effect of decluttering the inside space. We’re seeing more and more of this minimalist trend, which perhaps borrows from electric cars like the BMW i3 and Tesla Model 3.

As you might expect, the Golf comes with a full complement of tech and connectivity goodies, including:

  • Voice and touch-controlled MIB3 infotainment system
  • Support for Amazon Alexa
  • Permanent internet connection
  • Car2X

If you haven’t come across Car2X, it’s a system that connects your car with other vehicles and traffic infrastructure. This gives your car useful live data about driving conditions: for example, the system keeps you informed about approaching traffic, emergency vehicles, traffic lights, breakdowns and traffic queues. How cool is that?

Three versions of the new Golf that took our fancy are:

GTD

Diesel’s not dead! Despite plummeting European sales, VW have decided that there’s life in the old fuel yet. The oil-burner version of the Golf will have almost 200bhp and 300lb ft of torque on offer. VW have also emphasised the GTD’s 80% lower nitrogen oxide emissions — thanks to a double SCR converter — and the new model boasts a massive 17% improvement in fuel economy.

GTi

Geneva would also have seen the launch of the new Golf GTI. The four-pot turbo will deliver an impressive 242bhp, which means the GTI is good for a 0-62 time of 6.4 seconds. Nice. And if that still feels too tame, there’s a limited edition TCR with 286 BHP.

GTE

For those not yet convinced by a fully electric ID3, VW are offering the GTE hybrid. It’s a bold attempt to balance performance and sustainability. OK, so the maximum electric range you can get is 31 miles, but that will cover most round-town journeys. Conveniently, it will also charge from a domestic plug in 3-4 hours. The GTE isn’t as fast to 60mph as the GTI, but at lower speeds, instant shove from the electric motor compensates nicely.

A Stylish Cupra Leon

The new Cupra Leon certainly looks the business. It has the sharp styling we’ve come to expect from SEAT, but the sprinkling of copper detailing really adds something. Underneath the skin, the Leon uses the MQB platform seen in other VW Group models. Power comes from the same 2.0 litre engine that appears in the VW Golf R. With 296 bhp, the Leon rockets to 0-62 mph in just 5.8 seconds, putting it within spitting distance of Honda Civic Type R, and ahead of rivals like the Ford Focus ST.

Initial reviews suggest that the new performance Leon is massively capable, with Top Gear calling it “one of the best hot hatches on sale.”

Prices start from £29,915.

The Formidable Cupra Formentor

Geneva 2020 was supposed to launch of another Cupra offering: the Formentor.

If you think it looks like a SEAT Ateca in wolf’s clothing, you’re half-right. As What Car? comments, the Formentor has been:

…developed specifically for the brand, instead of being a faster, rebadged version of an existing SEAT.

This styling sets it apart from Cupra’s existing version of the Ateca. The Formentor is sleeker and more aggressive-looking, giving it a definite road presence.

Two powertrains are available for the new model: a 2.0 litre petrol and a plug-in hybrid that combines a 1.4 litre petrol with an electric motor. The petrol version is good for 306bhp; the hybrid’s petrol engine generates 148bhp, with the electric motor adding a further 114bhp. That means both variants should be formidably quick, and they’re both four-wheel drive too.

None of this comes particularly cheap, however. On sale from the Autumn, prices for the Formtentor are expected to start at around £45,000.

The Welsh VW Specialist blog covers a wide range of automotive topics, from the contentious to the light-hearted. We are an independent garage specialising (as the name suggests!) in all the VW group marques, including Audi, Volkswagen, Skoda and SEAT. Welsh VW Specialists provide services, repairs and MOTs, delivering a main dealer level of care at affordable prices. To book your vehicle in, or for any enquiries, get in touch.