The Volkswagen Golf 8 is no fancy supercar. But it is the German carmaker’s top-selling, high-volume model, packed with bells and whistles. It boasts a host of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) features and always-on connectivity, such as V2X for vehicle-to-everything communication and UWB for secure car access.
Golf 8 is also a mild hybrid electric vehicle with a lithium-ion battery. The latest model uses a new electrified drive system with 48-volt technology.
The fact that VW crammed “a lot of innovations” into “such a compact, mass-market car” caught the interest of System Plus Consulting (Nantes, France), according to the company CEO Romain Faux. System Plus, a part of market/technology research firm Yole Développement based in Lyon, conducted this teardown.
No central compute processing
The Golf 8 teardown reveals that the vehicle uses no powerful central computing system such as Nvidia’s Xavier or Tesla’s Self-driving SoC. Instead, a series of ECUs in separate domains independently manage different vehicle functions. How VW pulled off a seemingly advanced ADAS model without really changing the vehicle’s core electrical and electronic (E/E) architecture is interesting all by itself.
Remember the buzz over the Audi A8, initially trumpeted as the industry’s first passenger vehicle featuring Level 3 autonomy? That model, however, never got into real production. Audi, which faced regulatory hurdles, abandoned plans to introduce eyes-off autonomous driving technology in the A8 flagship sedan.
In contrast, the ADAS innards of the high-volume Golf 8, already on the market, are not theoretical.
Our Golf 8 under-the-hood exploration not only reveals VW’s ingenuity, but also presents some of the challenges faced by VW engineers. As VW strives to move into fully electrified and highly automated vehicles, the company needs to develop a scalable E/E platform that consolidates multiple ECUs into fewer domains or even in zones, as well as devising a coherent system-wide software strategy.
While Golf 8’s underlying software was not within the scope of this teardown, it is no secret that VW has faced a variety of software problems. Last year, bugs in software, designed to enable emergency calls, delayed VW’s launch of the latest model. This year, VW recalled 56,000 Golf models so that it could fix faulty software that affects the infotainment system and reversing camera.
A patchwork of modules
Under the hood, the most striking feature of the Golf 8 is the integration of a variety of modules, each performing separate functions. These tasks range from front assist and rear traffic alert to lane change assistant, blind spot monitoring and parking assistant. Each ADAS function is enabled by a separate sensor module designed by different Tier Ones, including Valeo, Bosch and Hella.
Further, each sensing or connectivity module comes with a different ECU designed by various MCU suppliers. Among them are Infineon, Renesas and NXP.
In essence, Golf 8 comprises a patchwork of modules from diversified suppliers.
Significantly, Golf 8 is built on the Volkswagen Group MQB platform. MQB, however, isn’t a platform designed for VW’s new E/E architecture. It is a platform designed as a strategy to foster shared module design construction for the VW Group’s various brands including Audi, Volkswagen, Seat and Škoda.
System Plus Consulting CEO Faux explained, “This is VW’s way to strengthen its purchasing power.” Many hardware units integrated inside Golf 8 also go into VW’s other branded vehicles built on MQB — clearly, it’s a secret weapon that allowed Golf 8 to become an effective mass market vehicle.
The Golf 8 could be considered as the cyber version of the popular hatchback, thanks to its fully digital cockpit and always-on connectivity including DSRC-based V2X communication standard. The Golf 8 has a wide range of advanced driver-assistance systems bringing to the mass-market a set of technical solutions so far seen in higher-end vehicles.
Mild hybrid electric vehicle
System Plus Consulting CEO explained the advantages and technical performance of the vehicle, highlighting that the new Golf 8 also features the mild hybrid electric vehicle (mHEV) system to support internal combustion engines (diesel and gasoline) through the combination of a 48V generator-starter, a 48V battery and a DC/DC converter. The mHEV system lowers upfront costs compared to other types of hybrids (e.g. the plug-in fitted to the Passat and Golf GTE) thanks to a simpler and more affordable architecture.
The new Travel Assist feature integrated into the Golf 8 enables assisted driving at high speeds. To this end, the system activates the automatic distance control ACC (longitudinal control) and the Lane Assist (transverse control). Using route data and GPS data from the navigation system, the system calculates the Golf’s position and preemptively reduces speed when reaching bends, traffic circles, intersections, speed limits and city centers.
The Golf 8 is equipped with a wide range of driver assistance systems as shown in the image above.