This is the new, sixth-generation Volkswagen Golf. It's ready to go on sale in the UK next January after an unveiling at the Paris motor show in October.

A deep reskin of the current Volkswagen Golf Mk5, the new Mk6 retains the old model's key underpinnings but offers a Scirocco-inspired nose and a higher-quality interior.

"We've gone for a back-to-basics approach that will set the tone for a whole new generation of Volkswagen models," said VW chairman Martin Winterkorn.

The Golf's front strut/independent rear suspension and platform is carried over, while powertrains will be extensive and feature new common-rail diesels, a four-wheel drive transmission and a hybrid.

Styling

The most striking change is the new horizontal grille, which VW design boss Claus Bischoff has said will be the new look for all future Volkswagens. Consisting of two horizontal slats set between the headlamps and intersected by a new bevelled badge, it provides the sixth Golf with an appealingly clean and uncluttered look.

>> See exclusive pics of the VW Golf Mk6

>> Read the technical story on the VW Golf Mk6

"We wanted to re-establish the unadorned look evident on the fourth-gen model," said Bischoff. So the body boasts tauter surfacing and a slightly edgier look, with a more heavily contoured bonnet giving a touch more aggression at the front three-quarter and a distinctive swage line providing a more distinctive shoulder than any previous Golf. "The Golf is considered classless and we have tried to capture that in the new look," said Bischoff.

The rear hatch is now more upright and supports distinctive tail lights that spread across the rear haunch; it's meant to make the Golf look wider than before.

Variants

The three and five-door Golfs due to be unveiled at the Paris show in October are just the beginning of a wide range. They will be followed by a new GTI (early 2009), Golf Plus (early 2009), Golf estate (mid-2009), R version (late 2009) and Golf cabriolet (mid-2010).

Greg Kable