Volkswagen Golf: One size fits all

VW says its MQB platform will be the backbone of light and safe cars. Photo / Supplied
VW says its MQB platform will be the backbone of light and safe cars. Photo / Supplied

This is the new VW Golf - and latest Audi A3 and Skoda Octavia. in fact, this chassis will pretty much underpin most VW group models, from polo-sized superminis to those as big as the next Passat.

Called MQB, the platform represents much more than a chassis that can be adapted for a wide variety of models.

VW calls it "the backbone of light and safe cars" as it encapsulates lightweight drivetrains, hi-tech safety equipment and even iPad-style infotainment systems.

It moves the game on from simply offering a chassis that can be stretched or shortened to fit different cars to one that shares its wiring, engines, transmissions, air-conditioning, seat backs and infotainment systems.

It even includes the factories the cars will be built in - for the first time allowing VW, Audi and Skoda models to be built on the same production line.

But the most important car of the lot is the Golf. And the Mk7 will represent a huge leap forward.

Thanks to hot-formed steel that is six-times stronger than conventional steel, more aluminium in the suspension, and lightweight air-conditioning, it will weigh 60kg less than the Mk6.

Under the bonnet will be a range of new engines, all of which will have the same angle of tilt - whether petrol or diesel - in the engine bay.

This will speed up the production line and allow the same transmissions to be used throughout. In fact, engine and gearbox variants have been reduced by 88 per cent.

The petrol line-up consists of a 1.2-litre TSI turbocharged four-cylinder with 62kW or 78kW, and a 1.4-litre TSI with 90kW or 102kW.

The latter has already appeared in the Audi A1 Sportback, and features cylinder deactivation, so it can run on two cylinders under a light throttle, saving fuel. Because of lightweight aluminium, the engine weighs 16kg less than the 1.4 TSi in the latest Golf.

The Golf will also be available as a hybrid, with the 1.4-litre TSI boosted by a 20kW electric motor. It produces 108kW and 250Nm of torque.

This will also be available as a plug-in hybrid, this time with an 80kW electric motor. This will return 141mpg and emit less than 46gr/km of CO2.

There will be a line-up of 1.6 and 2.0-litre TDI diesels, with power ranging from 66kW to 139kW.

There is no word on a BlueMotion variant, but VW says even the basic engines reduce CO2 emissions by 7gr/km, so expect a Golf BlueMotion to emit less than 90gr/km of CO2 and achieve more than 3.5 litres/100km.

A low-capacity 800cc diesel is also planned.

Seven-speed DSG automatic and six-speed manual gearboxes will feature, too.

The next Golf will be far safer.

Using a camera mounted above the rear-view mirror, it will have road-sign recognition, lane-keep assistance, light assist - which automatically dims the lights to prevent dazzling oncoming traffic - and adaptive cruise control.

It will also have a Mercedes-Benz-style fatigue assist system which warns drivers who are in danger of falling asleep at the wheel.

Other Benz style safety equipment includes pre-crash - which shuts the windows and pre-tensions the seatbelts if it senses a crash is imminent - as well as a system that can help avoid multiple crashes.

In other words, it will automatically apply the brakes after the first collision if the car senses it is at risk of a secondary collision - which often happens in motorway crashes.

This is in addition to low-speed crash mitigation for use in towns.

VW will also launch its next-generation automatic parking system, which not only steers the car into a parallel parking space, but reverses it into a multi-storey car parking space.

To aid handling, the Golf will get an electronically controlled differential, which was tested in a VW Scirocco race car in the Nurburgring 24 Hours.

In addition to traction control and the XDS electronic differential, it offers torque vectoring, and is said to help turn-in and allow the Golf to hold on its line better when cornering.

There is also a new electric steering system.

Inside, the MK7 Golf will get a touchscreen interface on the centre console which works in a similar way to an iPad, allowing the driver to use a "sweep" gesture to access different information. The MQB platform will enable the next Golf to be better looking.

"Because of the position of the engine, MQB means shorter front overhangs, which in turn allows us to lengthen the look of the car and make it more sporty with a lower centre of gravity," said exterior designer Andreas Mindt.

Better packaging will allow larger wheels and a longer wheelbase.

Mindt also said that the Cross Coupe concept's wider "face", with its radiator grille integrated with the headlights and daytime running lights, would be a big feature of future models.

The Mk7 Golf will be a centre of attention when it arrives at the Paris motor show in September.

- NZ Herald

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