Further engine variants due in the coming months include a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol motor and auto-only mild-hybrid 1.0 and 1.5 petrols. Sportier R-Line variants will arrive soon, too, as a prelude to the launch of the launch of hot GTE, GTI, GTD and R models later in 2020.

The latest version of the long-running family car – which was first launched in 1974, with more than 35 million sold since – goes on sale in five-door form only with new mild-hybrid engine options and a raft of new digital technology.

The new Golf was launched at VW’s Wolfsburg headquarters, with an initial reveal at this year’s Frankfurt motor show postponed so the firm could focus attention on its new ID 3 electric hatch. But while the ID 3 represents the next generation of Volkswagen, in the medium term it is likely to be dwarfed in sales by the new Golf. That’s why Klaus Bischoff, VW’s design boss, has referred to the new Golf as “an indicator of the present” that represents “what’s possible nowadays within the volume segment”.

The Golf’s engine line-up will include three new 48V mild hybrids and a revamped GTE-badged plug-in hybrid.

The entry-level 1.0-litre three-cylinder TSI petrol will be offered with 89bhp and 109bhp, while a 1.5-litre four-cylinder TFSI will come in 129bhp and 148bhp guises, all driven through a manual gearbox. The sole diesel on sale in the UK will be a 113bhp 2.0-litre TDI, available with manual or automatic transmission.

The eTSI-badged mild-hybrid engines use a 48V belt starter/generator linked to a 48V battery and mounted directly to a seven-speed direct-shift gearbox (DSG). VW says that the eTSI units, offered with 109bhp, 129bhp and 148bhp outputs, reduce fuel consumption by around 10% by allowing for engine-off coasting, and increase acceleration due to electric boosting.

The most powerful Golf at launch will be the 241bhp GTE plug-in hybrid, which combines a 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine with an electric motor. Energy is stored in a 13kWh battery, providing 50% more capacity than the outgoing GTE.

VW will offer a less powerful 201bhp eHybrid PHEV model in some markets, although it won’t be available in the UK. Neither will a TGI natural gas-powered machine that will be sold in Europe. With the arrival of the ID 3, the e-Golf will no longer continue with the new generation.

The Mk8 Golf uses the latest version of the VW Group’s MQB platform, with dimensions largely unchanged from its predecessor: the car is 4284mm long, 1789mm wide and 1456mm high, with a wheelbase of 2636mm. It retains the MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension, which work with VW’s adaptive damping control system and steering that has been reworked with a more direct ratio to inject extra feedback.