What's the news?
Any new Volkswagen Golf is news, and this seventh generation of the car is bigger news than ever. It's more spacious than the car it replaces, though weight-saving measures have seen it lose as much as 100kg. There have been no compromises in safety as a result, the Mk VII Golf promising to lead the class in safety, with Driver Alert System, a City Emergency Braking System and traffic sign recognition. BlueMotion models powered by Volkswagen's 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine promise a combined fuel economy figure of nearly 90mpg (3.1 litres/100km) and emissions of just 85g/km.
Nothing radical here, as you might expect; Volkswagen's conservatism unsurprising given the importance of the Golf as a sales cash cow. It's neat, unmistakably a Golf, with an evolutionary look that we've come to expect from Volkswagen. It's grown a bit, the small increase in size beneficial to the car's interior space.
Front and rear overhangs are reduced, the bonnet longer and the cab further back than on the outgoing model. The lights follow Volkswagen's current chiselled design, while a sharp crease is obvious on the car's flanks that carries around to the boot lid - which retains its hinged Volkswagen badge opening handle. Despite the evolutionary look the Mk VII is a new car from the ground up, featuring a modular platform that'll underpin a number of future VAG models.
Don't expect any change in the Golf's status as the class defining model for interior quality and user friendliness. Soft-touch materials are the order of the day here, inlayed with brushed metal inserts and familiar, simple to operate controls. Instrumentation remains as clear and uncluttered as you'd expect, the big change inside being the repositioning of the centre console to face the driver. It contains a large 5.8-inch colour touch-screen, which increases to an eight-inch screen working with finger gestures on higher specification models.
Head-, leg- and shoulder room are greater inside thanks to a slight increase in wheelbase and exterior dimensions, further adding to the upmarket feel. Boot volume increases by 30 litres. Adding to that will be certain refinement, as the current car already offers class-leading wind, engine and road noise suppression. The space between the front seats houses an electronic parking brake and a compartment with a universal phone holder and inductive aerial - which boosts mobile telephone signal and reduces phone battery drain.
Powering the Golf is a new range of petrol and diesel engines, all of which incorporate stop-start and battery regeneration systems. At launch, the petrol engines are a 1.2-litre TSI 85hp unit returning around 57.6mpg (4.9 litres/100km) and 113g/km, and a 1.4-litre TSI 140hp unit with Active Cylinder Technology, which can deactivate two of the cylinders, and achieves up to 58.9mpg (4.8 litres/100km) and 112g/km. The launch diesel engines are a 1.6-litre unit with 105hp, which returns 74.3mpg (3.8 litres/100km) and 99g/km, and a 2.0-litre 150hp unit that returns 68.9mpg (4.1 litres/100km) and 106g/km. Manual and DSG automatic transmissions are offered.
Sporting models will follow the bread-and-butter models' introduction next year. Though Volkswagen has not yet revealed pricing - expect a modest increase over the current car, but the firm promises higher specification across the range.
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