The engineering focus for the new Volkswagen Golf has been on improving production efficiency to cut costs and boost profits, while allowing VW to peg prices close to those of today's model.
The Volkswagen Golf retains the floorpan and MacPherson strut (front) and four-link (rear) suspension of its predecessor. It also carries over the same 2580mm wheelbase, with 1540mm/1520mm front/rear tracks.
Interior and equipment
The Golf Mk5 took a retrograde step in interior quality, a problem that VW has strived to address with Mk6. The new interior certainly looks and feels a step up from the fifth-generation model, with additional soft-touch surfaces, classy chrome-rimmed instruments and reworked switchgear.
A strange change is the dropping of the instrument pack's distinctive blue backlighting for a clearer white colour.
Overall accommodation remains very much on par with the old Golf. "We've added greater longitudinal adjustment to the front seats, which should satisfy taller occupants," said VW design boss Claus Bischoff, "but in nearly all aspects the space is the same as before."
Extra safety kit includes a new knee airbag mounted below the dash, anti-whiplash headrests and more advanced ESP software.
Refinement is improved with new door and window seals, new windscreen support and revised engine mountings. "We're convinced it will be the quietest car in its class," said Bischoff.
The Mk6 VW Golf gets downsized petrol engines - 80bhp 1.4-litre and 105bhp 1.6- litre units - are the key changes. Next in line are a 122bhp turbo 1.4 and a 1.8 turbo with 160bhp, plus 1.4 supercharged and turbocharged 1.4-litre TSI units with 140bhp and 170bhp.VW's new common-rail diesels will form the majority of sales in the UK.
The new range includes a base 90bhp 1.6-litre unit along with 110bhp, 140bhp and 170bhp versions of the existing 2.0-litre motor. The 110bhp engine is said to return 62.7mpg and CO2 emissions of just 119g/km.
Also planned, but not unlikely to launch until 2010, is a resurrection of the Golf GTD, a diesel alternative to the GTI. Sources suggest that it will feature a new twin-turbo 2.0 TDI engine with 204bhp.
Environmental pressures have fast-tracked plans for a Golf hybrid, being developed under the codename Leonardo. It is expected to pair a 102bhp 1.2-litre petrol engine with an electric motor driving the rear wheels.
All engines will be offered as standard with a six-speed manual or optional seven-speed DSG transmission.
The Golf is getting several high-end options for the first time, many of which are not yet available on the more expensive Passat.
Adaptive damping provides the driver with the choice of three different levels of stiffness while altering the steering and throttle response. Swivelling xenon headlamps, intelligent cruise control and an automatic parking system will also be available.