Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Lucky Seven

I feel good today.  You want to know why? Well, it's not because all the rousing, raucous speeches given at the Democratic National Convention so far have given me hope for an Obama re-election victory.  Quite frankly, the speech excerpts I've heard so far have not given me any hope at all.  No, the reason I'm feeling good today is because Volkswagen previewed the all-new seventh-generation Golf in Berlin yesterday. :-D 

As you can tell from this profile photo of the new Golf, the car keeps its traditional two-box, angular style  It's a little bit lower and longer than the sixth-generation model, but the styling differences between the two are quite subtle.  The Golf is Volkswagen's volume car, and, except in the United States and Canada (where the trunked Jetta is preferred), it's as synonymous with Volkswagen in the watercooled engine era as the original Beetle had been synonymous with VW in the aircooled age.  Anyone expecting a radical departure from the original car's Giugiaro design was bound to be disappointed this time.
The new Golf is 167.5 inches long and 70.8 inches wide, riding on a 103.8-inch wheelbase.  The length and width are increases over the sixth-generation car at 1.7 inches and half an inch, respectively, and the wheelbase is 2.3 inches longer than the previous Golf.  That translates into more interior room, particularly in rear legroom.  The new Golf is 57.1 inches tall, though, a decrease of 1.2 inches from the previous car. That's still higher the the 55.5-inch height of the original Golf - the car we in the New World knew in the seventies as the Rabbit - so headroom shouldn't be a problem.  One other thing got smaller - the curb weight, down about 220 pounds from the sixth-generation car.
The Golf - the European Golf, at least - is getting more and more fancy, though, with more technological features that will likely kick prices upstairs a bit.  Among the new features are an electric parking brake, an sensory alarm to shake fatigued drivers out of their complacency and recommend a break from driving, an emergency braking function that automatically initiates braking at speeds below 30 km/h (18.6 mph) in city traffic to avoid a frontal collision that appears imminent, and a new cruise control system that maintains a pre-selected speed and keeps the car at safe distance by automatically braking or accelerating in flowing traffic.  The new Golf simply won't tolerate excuses for crashes . . . indeed, all of this technological wizardry is pretty much designed  to avoid them. 

The new Golf will have a choice of two turbocharged gasoline engines in Europe, a 1.2-liter engine producing 85 horsepower and a 1.4-liter engine with 138 horsepower, the latter being rather respectable in a car of this size.  Available diesel engines will be a 1.6-liter engine producing 103 horsepower  and a two-liter engine with 148 horsepower.  All engines are to be equipped with a standard stop/start system and battery regeneration.  
Engine choices for North America have yet to be determined, although the safe bet for the standard gas engine is for a larger turbo four.  Rumor has it that the "fiver" - the 2.5-liter five-cylinder gasoline engine currently used in North American Golfs - may not be fuel-efficient enough for Volkswagen.  Me, I've had no complaints about it - fuel economy is respectable, and its 177 horsepower makes it very responsive.  
Oh yeah, about the U.S/Canadian introduction of the new Golf . . ..  It won't be available here until the 2014 model year, and I'm assuming it will be previewed at the New York Auto Show in late March, though that's just a guess.  Nothing about the GTI yet, and not even any pictures of the three-door hatchback to show, but we're likely to see both from the upcoming Paris Motor Show.
Yes, we Americans and Canadians have to wait a little longer for any new Golf to get here, but given all the specifications about the new Golf and the promise of an even more powerful GTI, it's worth the wait. :-)
Thanks to for the official details.

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