Evolutionary rather than revolutionary, the all-new seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf has debuted at the New National Gallery in Berlin ahead of a launch at the Paris motor show later this month. Arriving 38 years after the original Mk 1, it’s the latest in a line of small family hatchbacks which has sold 29 million examples worldwide. VW hopes it will become known for all the class-leading attributes of the six generations which came before it: comfort, efficiency, practicality and safety. Bucking the trend for new cars, Golf 7 is 100kg lighter than the outgoing Golf 6, and is also 23 per cent more fuel efficient. It’s safer, too, and with evolutionary styling (VW were never going to mess with a motoring icon), what’s not to like?
Built on the new MQB (Modularer Querbaukasten) platform or Modular Transverse Matrix, which also underpins the recently-launched Audi A3, this system standardises many vehicle component parameters across brands and vehicle classes and allows access to new powertrains and technologies, including innovations in the areas of safety and infotainment, which until now were reserved for vehicles in higher segments. The new Golf is 56mm longer than its predecessor at 4255mm, and has a wheelbase of 2637mm, with the front wheels 43mm further forward than before. The new car is also 13mm wider than Golf 6 (1799mm total width) and 28mm lower at 1452mm. One of the substantial benefits is a lower drag co-efficient reading of 0.27 Cd.
The cabin sees Volkswagen’s latest switchgear and a centre console angled towards the driver, as well as a new touchscreen infotainment system. All UK cars will get a colour display system, while the top models will come with an eight-inch satellite navigation unit. Pandering to the iPhone generation, the system works with gestures familiar to smartphone users, while DAB digital radio, auxiliary inputs, Bluetooth telephone preparation and vehicle information displays all feature, too. An electronic handbrake means the Golf now goes almost fully-digital, while a multi-collision braking system is standard on all models. An automatic City Emergency Braking system can also be specified, as introduced on the Up. VW says that the Golf’s steering now uses a variable ratio system ‘that offers more agile steering in dynamic driving situations, while ensuring high-speed stability, and easy manoeuvring in the city.’
All engines powering Golf 7 are fitted with Stop/Start and battery regeneration systems. At launch, 1.2-litre TSI 84bhp and 1.4-litre 138bhp with cylinder deactivation (as seen on the Polo BlueGT) petrol engines will be available, while diesel lovers will have a choice of 1.6-litre 104bhp and 2.0-litre 148bhp units. Further details on the new Golf will be revealed at the Paris motor show, which runs from 29 September to 14 October 2012. The car will go on sale in mainland Europe from October, with the first UK models expected in January 2013.