Test: VW Golf infotainment

The VW Golf recently showed unusual weaknesses in detail. Many are now fixed.  

Traditionally he will VW Golf praised for its sober perfection. And rightly so in most cases for decades. Many customers were therefore surprised that the compact car from Wolfsburg suddenly showed unusual weaknesses when the eighth edition debuted. All the more so since they mainly affected the infotainment system, which the manufacturer had previously advertised as particularly advanced. VW has recently been delivering a revised and improved version. The can convince in the test - with slight limitations.  

Own development of the technology

According to the manufacturer, the eighth Golf is said to be the "most digital Golf of all time". This is not an empty advertising phrase from the North Germans, but points to the great hardware and software effort that VW has put into the development of its all-time bestseller. Unlike many of its competitors, the technology was not bought and adapted from somewhere, but largely developed in-house. VW has also chosen this path for strategic reasons, as good software and a pleasant user experience are considered to be one of the most important features in the future in order to stand out from the competition and develop new business areas, such as the profitable sale of extras and accessories for download .  

VW has therefore been upgrading its IT department for some time, hiring programmers and creating new business areas. The fact that the adjustment process was not yet complete was clear to the public at the latest when the 8-seater Golf made its debut. Its infotainment system was slow, unstable and annoying to use - in short: as bad as it was previously unknown in a VW product. At the end of 2021, almost two years after the premiere, the Wolfsburg have now eliminated the greatest weaknesses.

Infotainment from the first second in the seat

The upgrade program is in two parts: all new and already delivered Golf 8s have been updated with a new version of the infotainment software, which improves the performance of the system and fixes operating problems. Newly built vehicles, like the car tested here, also get new hardware in the form of an improved central computer and more powerful graphics chips.  

Test: VW Golf infotainment
According to the manufacturer, the eighth Golf is said to be the "most digital Golf of all time".

The faster technology is noticeable as soon as you get in, because the infotainment system is available almost immediately and without booting or loading times. And scrolling through the menus and turning the screen pages is also pretty smooth. A slight snagging can only be noticed when zooming within the navigation map. The stability of the connectivity is also right: During the two-week test, there was no loss of connection, and the cell phone was recognized quickly and reliably when boarding. There was also a lot of criticism from customers on these points after the debut.  

Better communication with the VW Golf

The weak point was also the usability. Here, too, VW has made improvements. Especially when it comes to voice control: It now seems understandable and, above all, no longer so inflexible; Computer announcements can now also be interrupted by the driver, which significantly improves the workflow. The navigation system is also becoming more human and no longer insists on a fixed sequence of address components when programming by language. However, there were no significant changes in the menu structure. Although it still offers good ideas such as the air conditioning button to prevent cold feet, it still suffers from cumbersome operation in the details. One example is the home button, which is located in the blind spot behind the steering wheel, at least in some common seating positions.  

Sensors for more precise inputs

However, another ergonomic problem has been fixed. So far, it happened that when operating the touchscreen, you accidentally came across the touch-sensitive volume slider directly below. This is now automatically deactivated when the proximity sensors detect the hand near the touchscreen. This works fine enough not to disturb the desired operation of the slider. However, like many other control units, the surface is not illuminated. At night, therefore, use becomes a blind man's bluff game. The earliest possible remedy is the upcoming facelift of the series.  

The bottom line is that the infotainment system has clearly gained through the software and hardware updates. Except for a few venial sins, there is little to complain about in terms of functionality, and the stability is also okay. However, VW is still not at the top of the competition, at least when you compare the operating systems of the premium manufacturers. 

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