We catch both three- and five-door hatches undergoing shakedown testing
6 August 2007

This is the new Volkswagen Golf which is planned to hit showrooms in late 2008.The forthcoming new Mk6 Golf is the early replacement for the current Mk5 Golf, which was only unveiled in 2003. VW bosses were forced to commission an emergency re-engineering project when it became clear that building the car was too costly and too lengthy an exercise.Some sources say the factory build time of the Mk5 is as much as double that of rival hatchbacks. Even though well over 600,000 Golfs will be built in Europe in 2007, profit margins are said to be perilously thin.According to industry sources in Germany, much of the problem was centred around problems with electronic systems and connectivity, and the complexity of both the rear axle and the design of the door structures. The lengthy overall construction time was also the source of build errors, which then had to be rectified.The simplified Mk6 Golf still has the multi-link rear axle and should have improved interior quality, but under the skin it has been transformed. We've captured both three- and five-door versions of the new Golf testing and, contrary to rumours, they show that the standard five-door won't be replaced in favour of the Golf Plus.Although the turnaround programme was completed exceptionally quickly, the programme was stalled when new VW brand boss Martin Winterkorn demanded a late redesign of the car last year.The nose is heavily disguised in our photos, but it is clear that the sharply angled headlamps and air intakes echo those of the upcoming Golf-based Scirocco coupé. Even so, the styling is clearly evolutionary, not revolutionary.The flagship Mk6 Golf is thought to be the 280bhp R36, powered by a 3.6-litre V6 engine. The GTI is also likely to get a power hike from its 2.0-litre turbocharged engine.Rumours also suggest that the 170bhp 1.4-litre TSI engine, which uses both a turbocharger and a supercharger, will be ditched and replaced with a 170bhp 1.8-litre turbo unit.

Hilton Holloway

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