Volkswagen of Germany has unveiled the latest version of its signature vehicle, the Golf small family car, which will make is world debut at the Paris Car Show later this month.
It is always the mark of a successful car that designers are loathe to change anything that made it popular, so the seventh version of the Golf is barely distinguishable from the previous model, which was Europe’s biggest seller ahead of the Ford Focus. VW has sold over 29 million Golfs around the world since it was first introduced in 1974 to replace the iconic Beetle. The Golf was known as the Rabbit in the U.S. until 1985.
The new Golf is a bit longer and wider than the old one, and has shed about 220 pounds in weight. Powering the Golf is a new range of gasoline and diesel engines all of which incorporate Stop/Start and battery regeneration systems. At launch, gasoline engines comprise one of 1.2 liters and 84 hp, and a 1.4 liter 138 hp motor with Active Cylinder Technology, which can deactivate two of the cylinders, and achieve up to about 70 miles per U.S. gallon. Diesel engines are of 1.6 and 2.0 liters. VW isn’t saying which engines will be available when the Golf reaches the U.S. next year.
The Golf VII is built on a new engineering platform of engines, suspensions and technology which will eventually be used on up to a half of VW’s annual output of more than eight million vehicles. This already includes the recently launched A3, made by its premium subsidiary Audi. The engineering system promises huge costs savings for VW for its production of Passats, Jettas, the new Beetle, and models from its subsidiaries like Skoda and SEAT, but also a big financial risk if there is a sizeable recall.
The new Golf doesn’t have any great new engineering advances, but includes many features that used to be reserved for luxury vehicles. There is an electronic parking brake. Buyers can specify Park Assist, and the new Golf will park itself. All new Golfs have touch-screen systems as standard. The new Golf also has a multi-collision brake system. This automatically brakes the vehicle after a collision, to reduce kinetic energy significantly and minimise the chance of a second impact. Also available is the Pre-Crash system which if it detects the possibility of an accident, pre-tensions seatbelts and closes the windows and sunroof, leaving just a small gap, to ensure the best possible protection from the airbags. Other electronic aids include Adaptive Cruise Control, which uses radar to maintain a set distance away from a vehicle. Front Assist can bring the car to a complete stop and operates at speeds of up to 90 mph. City Emergency Braking can reduce or prevent the chance of accidents occurring at speeds up to 20 mph. Driver Alert System monitors the driver’s inputs, to detect any signs of tiredness; while a camera-operated Lane Assist system can help keep the car in a specific lane, providing steering assistance where necessary.
The interior finish is said by VW to be good enough to allow the car to compete with upmarket small cars like the BMW 1 series and the upcoming Mercedes A class.
The cars go on sale in Europe from October.