Here is the Mk7 Volkswagen Golf, an all-new design said to be lighter, roomier, safer and more economical than the outgoing model.
VW chairman Martin Winterkorn confirmed that the new Golf is significantly lighter than the sixth-generation model it replaces, despite a moderate increase in size and higher levels of standard equipment. “We have reversed the upward spiral in weight, but it is safer, more comfortable and more spacious,” he said.
The headline news surrounding the car, which will go on sale here in November, are the claimed 88.3mpg fuel consumption and 85g/km CO2 figures that VW quotes for the 103bhp, 1.6-litre diesel-powered BlueMotion model.
As tradition dictates, the new Golf, styled by Marc Lichte, receives an evolutionary look with the classic design cues of the original, including pronounced front wheel arch flares and the extra-wide C-pillar and upright rear end, preserved in newly interpreted form. There’s also a touch of subtle spice in the styling in the shape of a pressed-in body line that slashes across the doors, a first for a Golf.
Other changes include a subtle shift in overall proportions, with a shorter front overhang, the bonnet receiving added length and the cabin shifting further back to create what Klaus Bischoff, head of Volkswagen design, refers to as a premium-class ‘car-backward’ impression.
Alongside the initial five-door hatchback, also plans three-door hatch, high-roof five-door hatch (Golf Plus), five-door estate (Variant), four-door saloon (CC) and two-door cabrio versions of the new Golf.
Unlike its direct predecessor, which was essentially a heavily facelifted verson of the fifth-generation Golf, this new model has been re-engineered from the ground up.
As with each generation before it, the latest Golf has grown in size. Length is up by 56mm to 4255mm and width extends by 13mm to 1799mm, although a flatter roof reduces height by 28mm to 1452mm.
The increase in external dimensions has also led to a larger footprint, with the wheelbase growing by 59mm to 2637mm and the front and rear track widths extending by 8mm and 6mm to 1549mm and 1520mm respectively.
The larger exterior has resulted in a roomier cabin, which features a claimed 15mm improvement in rear legroom. There are also 31mm and 30mm improvements in shoulder room for the front and rear seat occupants respectively. Boot space also extends by 30 litres over the outgoing Golf, to 380 litres.
Behind the evolutionary appearance of the new Golf is a revolutionary new platform known internally as the MQB (‘modularen querbau’, or ‘modular transverse’). The highly adaptable structure, which is set to underpin more than half of VW’s models by the middle of the decade, makes use of a higher percentage of hot-formed high-strength steel than its predecessor, the PQ35 platform, leading to a 37kg reduction in weight for the platform alone.
This, in combination with other weight-saving measures, including a 40kg reduction in certain engines, 26kg reduction in the chassis and 6kg reduction in the electrical architecture, sees the new Golf tip the scales at up to 109kg less than the fifth-generation model introduced in 2008. The claimed kerb weight of the most basic new model is just 1050kg.
The Mk7 Golf will be offered with a range of transversely mounted four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, which ultimately could stretch to 12 powerplants once all variants are launched.
All will come as standard with automatic stop-start and brake energy recuperation systems. Engineering refinements and efficiency gains produce claimed reductions in CO2 emissions of up to 23 per cent.
The model in which enthusiasts will be especially interested is the Golf GTI, which will be launched late next year alongside a more powerful Golf R. Both will forgo their current turbocharged 2.0-litre powerplants from Volkswagen’s EA113 engine family for more contemporary EA888 units developed in partnership with Audi. In the new GTI, which is set to be previewed in concept form at the Paris show, it is claimed to produce 222bhp, with the R receiving a more heavily tuned version delivering 276bhp.
Transmissions include standard five and six-speed manual units together with optional six and seven-speed dual-clutch units. Volkswagen will continue to offer the Golf with optional four-wheel drive with selected engines, although the new 4Motion models aren’t likely to arrive in the UK until this time next year.
As part of Volkswagen’s efforts to improve fuel economy across its line-up, the dual-clutch gearboxes are now programmed to disconnect the engine on a trailing throttle. This is in combination with a new, optional driver system that offers eco, sport, normal and individual driving modes. A fifth mode, comfort, is also added in combination with optional adaptive dampers.
Further driveline changes include the addition of a standard electronic differential lock on all front-wheel-drive Golfs. Previously only found on the GTI, it prevents wheelspin by continuously monitoring front wheel traction. The upshot of this is that the intervention threshold of the standard ESP system has been recalibrated as it is not required to work as much.
Few details about the Golf’s chassis have been revealed, but Autocar understands it will be sold with two different suspension systems. Lower-end models will receive MacPherson struts at the front and a torsion beam at the rear; higher-end models get a more advanced combination of MacPherson struts at the front and multi-links at the rear — the combination found on all sixth-generation Golf models.
Insiders who have driven the new Golf suggest that the longer wheelbase and changes to the elastokinematic properties of the suspension bring improvements in overall ride quality, while the lower kerb weight and lowered centre of gravity have boosted dynamic ability.
The new Golf continues to offer a high-quality interior with lots of soft-touch plastic surfaces, metallic features and well damped switchgear. The driver’s seat has shifted back by 20mm, the position of the gear lever has been raised by 20mm and the distance between the throttle and brake pedals has increased by 16mm.
Volkswagen has also increased the range of steering wheel adjustment and added space on the centre console, made possible by the switch to an electronic handbrake. Further technology advancement comes by way of VW’s new MIB (‘modulare infotainment baukasten’, or ‘modular infotainment architecture’) system. To be offered in three distinct levels, it ensures even the most basic models receive an integrated touchscreen display.
The seventh-generation Golf receives a number of new safety systems. Included as standard is a new multi-collision braking system which automatically brakes the car to a complete stop when it is involved in an accident in order to avoid a second impact with oncoming traffic. Also on offer is proactive accident protection adaptive cruise control that includes an emergency braking function designed to avoid low-speed impacts, a lane-keeping assistant, fatigue detection, traffic sign recognition and the latest generation of automatic parking systems — all of which, Wolfsburg officials claim, make it the most sophisticated car in the hatchback class.