UNVEILED: new Golf

Time 7:07 am, August 6, 2008

050808vw.jpgHERE is the new Golf, due to hit dealers in January.

While it’s still unmistakably, well, a Golf, the sixth generation model is also surprisingly sporty-looking.

The front end, for example, is heavily influenced by the Scirocco. The broad grille and lower air intake make it look wider and more squat, while the headlamps are the raciest since the MkII GTi.

At the rear, there are Touareg-style lights that again widen things, leading the eye into more pronounced sculpting for the side panels.

Volkswagen Group’s head of design, Walter de Silva, said: ‘It is more accentuated than its predecessor, with precisely defined lines and edges, and with finely proportioned flared surfaces and recesses.’

But the profile remains pure Golf. See it from the side and it’s much harder to tell, in the pictures at least, new from old. This is intentional. People who buy a Golf do so because it’s a Golf. Volkswagen would be utterly insane to change this formula. In 34 years, it hasn’t – and it isn’t going to start now. Evolution is the name of the game.

Mechanically, it draws heavily from the excellent mechanicals of the current car. There’s never been any issue with how it drives – just how expensive it is to make. For this reason, the new model should be cheaper to assemble, meaning higher margins for Volkswagen. And for you?

Engines will include common-rail turbodiesels: the Passat’s 2.0-litre TDI has a new 110PS guise, returning 62.7mpg, and is also offered in 140 and 170 form. The 90PS 1.9-litre pump-jet looks set to remain, too, along with the familiar 1.4 TSI petrol from today’s model, joined by the 1.8 TSI. All are highly efficient – indeed, they should be more so in the new car.

Inside, it’s again heavily influenced by the Scirocco, but surprisingly, the blue and red dials are gone. Volkswagen boasts of white backlit cowled dials, instead. And while it’s cheaper to build, finish should be upped: Volkswagen boasts ‘a new level of quality is established in the Golf’. Here’s hoping it’s more MkIV level than MkV.

Refinement improvements come courtesy of new windscreen damping, new engine mounts, and a new system of door seals. VW dealers will be hoping they’re more robust than the poor-quality seals that blighted the first batch of MkVs…

Needless to say, it’s also more hi-tech. Distance-keeping cruise control, adaptive suspension, a knee airbag and seven-speed DSG gearbox will all be available. But all, goes the thinking, for prices comparable with today’s model. They’ll be announced later in the year.

Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, chairman of the board, Volkswagen AG, commented: ‘This sixth generation of Golf cars will completely redefine the quality and comfort level of its class over broad categories, offering more customer value than ever before.’

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