2008 Paris Auto Show: 2009 Volkswagen Golf
For all its ambitions to move upmarket, there's still no more important car in VW's lineup than the basic Golf. This sixth-generation hatchback will again be offered in two- and four-door layouts, and a wide range of powerplants means there's a Golf for every need. At launch, engine choices will include two 2.0-liter common rail turbodiesels with either 110- or 140 horsepower, and four gasoline engines. All four cylinders, outputs are 80-, 102-, 122- and 160 horsepower, the two more powerful TSI engines benefiting from either turbocharging or supercharging. Except for entry-level models, all the new Golf models can be fitted with a new dual-clutch transmission, replacing the old torque converter unit. With either six- or seven-speeds, depending on engine torque, the new gearbox will contribute a large measure of sportiness to the people's hatch. VW also showed a BlueMotion concept Golf, whose new 1.6-liter diesel reduces CO2 to just 99 grams per kilometer driven. In other words, it's ultra clean.
Volkswagen Golf Front" src="http://img.autobytel.com/car-reviews/autobytel/digital-assets/Autoshows/2008ParisAutoShow/2009VolkswagenGolfFront400.jpg" alt="2009 Volkswagen Golf SHOT DETAIL" />
Why it Matters
The Volkswagen Golf is one of the world's best-selling cars, so the introduction of an all-new one is big news indeed. The new VW Golf will be sold first in Europe, then make its way to other markets, ending in the U.S. sometime late in 2009, and will probably be called a Volkswagen Rabbit when it arrives here. The new car carries over the general styling themes of the previous version, but with a cleaner more modern look that borrows from the Scirocco concept car from a couple years back.
What it Looks Like
Spread the current VW Rabbit's headlights out, smooth out the already slick bodywork, and you're most of the way to the new Golf. Volkswagen has always been hesitant to make styling leaps with its bread-and-butter hatchback, and this year is no exception. Still, we like the look, and look forward to seeing more of it soon.
The Interior borrows styling themes and elements from the new Volkswagen CC 4-door sedan. This means that it will continue Volkswagen's tradition of offering high-quality interiors even in its least expensive cars.
What's Under the Skin
In Europe, four gasoline and two diesel engines will be available for the VW Golf. Two of the gasoline engines benefit from Volkswagen's new TSI technology, which uses a combination of exhaust-driven turbocharger and engine-driven supercharger to achieve extra efficiency and power from a compact package. The diesel engines use the more familiar TDI turbo technology, and with any luck, we'll see at least one of them in the U.S. soon. On all but base models, the engines will be connected to a six- or seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission, for quick shifting, good fuel economy and a good dose of fun for those who enjoy their time behind the wheel.
The new VW Golf is also packed with other technology. For example, the compact Golf will be available with a self-parking feature that until now has been only available on much more expensive cars, like the Lexus LS series. It will also feature automatic distance control, rearview camera and other high-end features usually not associated with entry-level cars.
What We Think
We don't know if all of the new Golf's bells and whistles will make it to the U.S. version. We do know we'll have to wait a year to find out. However, even if it doesn't have self-parking and a rearview camera, we'll probably like the little VW. Our only regret is that the U.S. isn't higher on the priority list for Volkswagen.
By Keith Buglewicz, Greg Brown
Photo credit: Volkswagen, Greg Brown