On 4 September 2012, 38 years after the original model redefined the small family car, the all-new Volkswagen Golf Mk VII was unveiled in Berlin ahead of its public debut at the 2012 Paris Motor Show later that month. Few cars have a history like that of the Volkswagen Golf, yet with global sales now topping 29 million, and in its seventh generation, the latest Golf continues to offer buyers a car which sets benchmarks in comfort, practicality, safety and efficiency.
Despite offering more room for passengers and more advanced technological features than previous versions, new production techniques contribute to the Volkswagen Golf Mk VII being up to 100 kg lighter than the car it replaces, helping to make it up to 23 per cent more efficient than before. On top of this, the new Golf is also safer than ever, thanks not just to a stronger body structure (which is also 23 kg lighter) but also to a raft of standard and optional passive and active safety systems.
The new Golf is built on the so-called MQB (Modularer Querbaukasten) platform or Modular Transverse Matrix. This standardises many vehicle component parameters across brands and vehicle classes, and allows access to new powertrains and technologies, including innovations in the areas of safety and infotainment, which until now were reserved for vehicles in higher segments.
At 4,255 mm, the new Golf is 56 mm longer than its predecessor, with a 59 mm longer wheelbase of 2,637 mm. The front wheels are 43 mm further forward, helping to generate more interior space, while the Golf is also 13 mm wider, at 1,799 mm, and 28 mm lower, at 1,452 mm. This helps to create a 10 per cent improvement in the drag co-efficient, which is now 0.29 Cd (and 0.27 Cd for the forthcoming BlueMotion model).
Though the new car's dimensions are larger, its overall design is unmistakably that of a Golf, thanks to a design DNA that has evolved through the decades. Walter de Silva, Head of Design for Volkswagen AG, said: 'One of the keys to the Golf's success lies in its continuity. There are a handful of cars with a design that, like the Golf's, has been refined, tweaked and enhanced down the decades and thus become timeless.'
Inside the VW Golf there is also more room than ever. Rear legroom is improved by 15 mm, and the front seats have been moved 20 mm further back, benefitting taller drivers. Front shoulder room is improved by 31 mm to 1,420 mm (at the rear it is 30 mm wider) and elbow room by 22 mm to 1,469 mm (20 mm wider at the rear). There is more room for luggage, too: the boot is 30 litres larger, at 380 litres, with a low 665 mm sill to make loading effortless.
The centre console is now angled more towards the driver, giving him or her easier, more ergonomic and direct access to auxiliary controls, including the new generation of touchscreen infotainment systems that is available on the Golf. All Golf models now have touchscreen systems as standard, starting in the UK with a 5.8-inch colour display system, and rising to the range-topping satellite navigation system with eight-inch colour display. It operates with finger gestures that will be familiar to smartphone users. Features include DAB digital radio, auxiliary inputs (including USB), Bluetooth telephone preparation and access to vehicle trip information. Between the front seats, space is increased by virtue of the new electronic parking brake with auto hold feature. Three specification levels are offered from launch - S, SE and GT. BlueMotion and GTI models will follow later in 2013, along with a GTD high performance diesel and a new Golf Estate.
The new Golf features a number of innovative standard safety systems, while optional systems include many previously only available on vehicles in a class above. Standard on all new Golf models, in addition to ABS, ESP and seven airbags, is XDS (an electronic differential lock for improved traction and handling) as well as an Automatic Post-Collision Braking System.
Standard (from SE trim upwards) are the PreCrash system that made its debut on the Touareg, Automatic Distance Control, Front Assist, City Emergency Braking and a Driver Alert System, while optional electronic aids include a camera-operated Lane Assist system and High Beam Assist. Specify the latest generation Park Assist, and the new Golf will even park itself in a space no more than 80 cm longer than the vehicle as well as in perpendicular spaces.
For the first time, the Golf also comes (from SE upwards) with driver profile selection, which allows the driver to choose from four modes - Eco, Sport, Normal and Individual. With Adaptive Chassis Control another mode - Comfort - is also offered. Each of these modes alters the throttle mapping and engine management (among other parameters) to the chosen style, so in Eco mode, for example, the engine management, air conditioning and ancillary systems are controlled to achieve maximum fuel efficiency.
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 85 PS unit returning 57.6 mpg combined and 113 g/km of CO2, a 1.2-litre TSI with 105 PS (57.6 mpg / 114 g/km), a 1.4-litre TSI with 122 PS (54.3 mpg / 120 g/km) and a 1.4-litre TSI 140 PS unit with Active Cylinder Technology, which can deactivate two of the cylinders under certain loads, and achieves 60.1 mpg and 109 g/km. The launch diesel engines are a 1.6-litre unit with 105 PS (which returns 74.3 mpg combined and 99 g/km), plus a 2.0-litre 150 PS unit which returns 68.9 mpg and 106 g/km.
Prices for the new car were announced on 3 October, and start from Â£16,285 (RRP OTR) for the entry-level S 1.2-litre 85 PS (lower than that of the outgoing model despite the extra space, technology and equipment). They rise to Â£24,880 for the current range-topper: the GT 2.0-litre TDI 150 PS with six-speed DSG gearbox and five doors. UK Retailers began taking orders for the new Golf on 18 October 2012; the first customer deliveries took place from the car's official on-sale date of 7 January 2013.
In developing the Golf, the teams led by head designers Walter de Silva (Volkswagen Group) and Klaus Bischoff (Volkswagen Brand) based their work on a great deal of creative freedom that allows many different approaches for a new design, while also focusing on the principles of what is now commonly termed, the Volkswagen 'design DNA'.
Over recent years, Volkswagen designers have crystallised a selection of core elements from the brand's history, which they term its 'historic DNA'. All current Volkswagen designs correspond to this DNA, with the cars conveying a modern, progressive impression, which nevertheless feels familiar. This DNA includes elements such as the reduced form of the radiator grille crossbeam, the look of the side windows as well as the first Golf's roofline and the Golf Mk4's typical C-pillars and wheel arches.
This DNA creates a unique, unmistakable language of product features and design. The language of product features leaves a familiar feeling, and yet it creates a new sensation in the eyes of the observer. The features are visual characteristics such as functionality, robustness, honesty and reliability. These characteristics are generated by a 'language of form' perfected over many years.
'This language of form,' explains Bischoff, 'is logical, solid, product-focused, pure and precise, and it reflects the brand's design DNA as a perfect model of creativity. This makes the base architecture of the new Volkswagen Golf unmistakable. It comes over as simple, strong, understandable, reliable and safe. When one begins with the pure element of this clear base architecture, details such as the economical use and placement of sculptural lines seem more like fine nuances. Another extremely important point is that the Golf's proportions have changed with the seventh generation, making the car look more confident than ever before.'
Marc Lichte, lead exterior designer, explains: 'The proportions have changed, as we have taken advantage of the Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB) here. The front wheels, for example, have moved 43 mm further forward. The front overhang is therefore shorter, while the bonnet looks longer.' Klaus Bischoff confirms this: 'Visually, the passenger compartment has been shifted towards the rear, creating what is called a 'cab backward' impression. That's what we call the proportions of premium-class vehicles, where the bonnet is long and the passenger compartment a long way towards the back. On the new Golf, we thus have proportions that you otherwise only get in higher-class segments of the market.'
In pure dimensional terms the Volkswagen Golf Mk VII is longer, wider and lower than its predecessor, giving it a more dynamic stance. Thanks to a longer wheelbase, however, it has more interior space and a larger boot.
Marc Lichte: 'We sought to emphasise these modified proportions with design elements. Below the door handles, we have integrated the now clearly visible and very sharp character line. While this line is interrupted by the wheelarches, it is otherwise continuous and is stylistically reflected in the chrome bars of the radiator grille and headlights and at the back in the white lateral bars of the rear light clusters. Set deep down all the way around, this line lowers the visual centre of gravity and gives the car a more solid stance on the road. Another striking element is the new line along the side shoulder directly below the windows. This line begins at the front in the headlight, and then glides under the wing mirror, which is positioned right on the line, all the way through to the rear side window, underscoring the premium proportions of the new Golf.' The wheelarches are particularly prominent as well, and along with the wider track, longer wheelbase and tyre dimensions of up to 18 inches, they make the Golf appear more powerful.
'Two other features,' explains Bischoff, 'are characteristic of the new Golf silhouette: the C-pillar and the roofline. On the previous Golf, the character line still cut through the C-pillar. This is no longer the case on the new Golf. The C-pillar runs along one homogenous surface from the start of the roof all the way to the rear wheel arch. Above the wheelarch, however, it picks up more strongly the entire width of the car - and as a result, when viewed from behind or diagonally from the rear, the new Golf looks more powerful. Viewed from the side, the precision of the C-pillar design catches the eye; it resembles the drawn string of a bow, giving the Golf a look of acceleration even while it is standing still. At the same time, it pays homage to the Golf Mk II and Mk IV - both design icons.'
On the right-hand side of the vehicle, even the shape of the fuel cap is integrated into this arrow element. Head Designer Klaus Bischoff continues: 'The contour of the roofline has also been redesigned. Here - above the side windows - the Golf now displays another line, which runs from the roof-edge spoiler right through to the A-pillars. It is one of those features that give the Golf a particularly sophisticated look from the side as well - a line that at first glance may remain unnoticed, yet is a further detail en route to visual precision.'
The Volkswagen design DNA manifests itself in a 'face' that has appealing features. In addition, in the same way as on the first Golf, it defines horizontally balanced elements that create a certain width. Together they produce a front section that is recognisable in every rear view window as that of a Volkswagen. Each Volkswagen class has its own character attributes in this respect. In the Golf class these include, for example, the slightly upward sweeping headlights and a defined maximum height for the radiator grille.
Compared to its predecessor, the new Golf displays completely restructured modulation of its surfaces. While on the Golf Mk VI the wings were higher than the bonnet - effectively framing it - this is now the other way round. On the sides, the crease lines form the wings' lowest points, before the latter transition vertically into the wheelarches. The top border of the wings is formed by a line, as if cut by a knife, which begins at the A-pillars. All of the lines together form a V-shaped bonnet.
Beneath the bonnet come the redesigned headlights and the comparatively narrow band of the radiator grille. At the bottom, the radiator grille is bordered - to the left and right of the chrome VW badge - by a chrome bar, which in the case of fitting with (optional) xenon headlights is continued in the headlight housing. Particularly striking are the LED daytime running lights of the xenon headlights. Meanwhile the bottom air inlet, in conjunction with the body-coloured area beneath the headlights, supports the strong horizontal layout of the front section design. The air inlet is now framed by a body-coloured area that even with the car's very confident look gives it the typical Volkswagen smile.
Typical Golf elements at the rear include the clear geometry of the rear lights, the rear window stretching all the way to the C-pillars and the large uniform surface around the Volkswagen badge. In fact, even without the badge or model name the seventh generation of this best-seller is instantly recognisable as a Golf. And yet every line is new. That applies both to the rear light clusters that terminate narrower on the inside and terminate parallel to the C-pillar on the outside (with striking L-shaped light contours) and to the tailgate, which reaches much lower down and offers one of the lowest boot sill heights in its class (665 mm).
A horizontal light-refracting edge near the bottom of the tailgate, which continues on the bumper, and the boot sill running parallel below this emphasise the sportily full width of the new Golf. These elements also correspond to the lines of the now much more pronounced bumper that is visually 'pulled out' towards the rear. The bumper itself is fully painted right down to the bottom, with only the centrally integrated diffuser, which also incorporates the exhaust pipe, kept black.
Under the surface: weight reduction
It was a stated intention in designing the new Golf to end the upward spiral in weight while raising the number of features, enhancing safety and increasing size. Saving up to 100 kg in weight - which was achieved - is a complex task, especially in the compact class, as intensive research and development work costs money, and it was also a pre-requisite that the Mk VII should cost less than the Mk VI.
Weight savings were achieved thanks to development in the following areas:
Body structure: up to 37.0 kg
Within the body structure, a 37 kg saving is possible through:
Dashboard: -0.4 kg
Although 0.4 kg does not sound much, this is where designers insist that perfection in the details comes into play. If 0.4 kg is overlooked, then ultimately a 100 kg saving will never be attained. Volkswagen not only succeeded in making the dashboard 20 per cent lighter thanks to a new thermoplastic foam injection process - the load-bearing, sandwich-like structure beneath the elegant surface consists of this material - but also in making it 20 per cent more rigid at the same time.
The 1.4 kg saved here also contributes towards overcoming the upward weight spiral. Mounted on the module cross-member are both the steering gear and the dashboard. Altogether the cross-member weighs 5.8 kg. The reduction in weight was achieved with a lightweight design approach utilising steel components. Based on an analysis by Finite Element Method (FEM) computations, the structure of the module cross-member was designed to be as light as possible and as strong as necessary. Optimal steel thicknesses and structural design measures, such as specially formed corrugations, improved the rigidity of the cross-member, while also reducing its weight by the noted 1.4 kg. Utilising methods such as the Finite Element Method (FEM), engineers at Volkswagen are essentially emulating examples found in nature, where the natural world is able to attain an astonishing ratio between the cross-section of a part's structure and its rigidity, e.g. in a stalk of grass or grain.
The VW Golf's entire air conditioning system has been redesigned and, as noted, is 2.7 kg lighter. Independent of its weight, all of the Golf air conditioning units with their highly efficient refrigerant cycles set standards of comfort and efficiency. That is because they run very quietly (up to 5 dB(A) lower), they reach the desired temperature significantly faster and are very energy-efficient (up to 4 Amperes less) due to a new type of blower control with intelligent climate control. The 2.7 kg weight reduction is achieved by such design modifications as optimised gauge of materials for various system components, reduced diameters of pressure lines, a new fastening system and a weight-optimised high performance heat exchanger.
Along with numerous minor modifications to the seats, weight was reduced in other areas âˆ’ especially in the rear backrests âˆ’ to save a total of up to 7 kg. Once again, the Finite Element Method and high-strength steels combined with laser welding made it possible to optimise wall thicknesses and profile geometries. Engineers achieved weight savings of over 15 per cent in this way and by using lighter backrest latch mechanisms.
The body must be strong to guarantee optimal safety and maximum comfort, and harmonising these two parameters continues to be one of the greatest challenges in the automotive world, especially when a car needs to be affordable for millions of people. Expensive materials like aluminium, magnesium or carbon-fibre are therefore excluded in this segment. That is why Volkswagen relies on the synergies of the Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB), innovative utilisation of high-strength steels and advanced production methods. The success of this approach is demonstrated by a 23 kg reduction in weight in the car body structure âˆ’ without additional costs âˆ’ while satisfying more stringent crash and rigidity requirements and implementing larger vehicle dimensions.
In this area a 23 kg saving was made possible through:
Use of high-strength and advanced high-strength steel grades and reduction of sheet metal thickness: -12 kg
The share of high-strength steels has grown from 66 per cent to 80 per cent compared to the Golf Mk VI. The decisive advantage lies in the fact that Volkswagen has built up expertise in the development and production of ultra-high-strength, hot-formed parts since the Golf Mk VI and has invested in manufacturing facilities - more than any other carmaker in the world. The share of these parts that are up to six times as strong as conventional steel parts grew from six per cent in the Golf Mk VI to 28 per cent in the VW Golf Mk VII.
Moreover, advanced high-strength steels are available today that did not exist when the previous model was being developed. These represent another nine per cent in the new car. The advantage of these extremely strong steels: the finished parts made of them can be designed to be considerably thinner than before and still handle the stresses of a crash. Nearly the entire safety architecture of the new Golf consists of these steels, which effectively form the vehicle's backbone. Hot-forming also saves a total of 12 kg in weight.
Only using materials where needed
The second lightweight design strategy - to only use material where it is needed - is an obvious one. This effort even goes so far as precisely to vary the sheet metal thicknesses within a part; this is done at the rolling mill of the steel supplier, which delivers a tailor rolled blank (a rolled blank with variable thickness) to the hot-forming facility. One advantage compared to conventional tailored blanks is that 11 zones can be produced within a cross-member, each with optimal sheet thickness. The transitions between the different sheet thicknesses are uniform here and do not exhibit any abrupt changes in strength. The savings for just these parts: 4 kg.
Geometries of the load-bearing structure and surface parts have been optimised for many years. Continually improved virtual methods in the development process can be used to utilise existing installation spaces even more effectively. Take the example of the longitudinal frame member, where optimal utilisation of the mounting space between the engine and the front of the chassis enabled a 25 per cent increase in profile cross-section, which in turn enabled the use of thinner stock. Nonetheless, the entire front structure of the new Golf can absorb more energy in a frontal crash - thanks to geometry that is computationally optimised by FEM. In the case of surface parts such as the bulkhead and the floor, computationally optimised, acoustically effective corrugation patterns were introduced that also make the sheet metal more rigid and in turn lead to a reduction in sound insulating measures. Just these mentioned examples result in a weight reduction of 7 kg.
New production methods
Welding processes and innovative tools also make a decisive contribution towards attaining high quality in body manufacturing. They are used to join and assemble all components - including the hot-formed steels and tailor rolled blanks, and includes the laser clamp welder, a tool which enables so-called 'wobble welds', which are able to produce the joint between parts on a short flange. The 'wobble' describes the sinusoidal path of the laser weld seam.
Hot-formed parts have an extremely high tensile yield strength of 1,000 MPa (Megapascal), which is over six times the strength of conventional deep-drawn steels and up to four times the strength of conventional high-strength steels. In the hot-forming process, a red-hot blank, heated to approximately 950 degrees Celsius, is inserted in the forming tool, formed in a work process and then quickly cooled in the tool.
The sixth-generation Golf was already considered among the quietest cars in the compact class, and Volkswagen set out to reinforce this position with the seventh-generation model. Therefore, innovative simulation tools were employed in the development of the latest car to evaluate very precisely conceptual and component layouts with regard to their comfort and acoustics early on. This type of evaluation analyses parameters such as vibrations and sound pressure, which are perceived directly by the driver and passengers in the car. As a result, it was possible to transfer the high level of acoustic comfort of the previous model to the new Golf, despite substantial weight savings.
One example of weight reduction in this area is in the screw fastening concept for the front suspension which was simplified while the joining points were optimised for the modular performance suspension that is used for all Golf cars up to 122 PS. This makes it possible to attain the greatest effect for acoustic ride comfort compared to the usual stiffening measures that are taken. The structure in the vicinity of the region where the front-body legs connect to the occupant cell and the entire area around the strut towers were designed to minimise acoustic noise transmission to the interior. Specifically, engineers achieved a 5 dB reduction in ride noise compared to the previous model here.
As well as minimising the transmission of road noise through the running gear, the development group also focused on minimising engine noise. In particular, the transmission of engine noise was reduced to a low level in the conceptual design of the front subframe, as well as the zones around the strut towers, windscreen and firewall.
A considerable amount of optimal refinement comfort depends on a car's engine mounting method. The mounting system for the seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf was completely redesigned, while retaining the pivot bearing concept. Despite reductions in component weights, performance of the engine mounting system was improved. Along with reducing the amount of structure-borne noise (from the engine), improvements were made in vibration damping. The engine mount system thus results in smaller movements of the engine assembly, and it is this which is key to optimising refinement.
The acoustic performance of the Golf's new engines was an issue tackled in the early development phase of the new car. With the TDI engine, for example, by considering requirements early in its development, specific engine-related acoustic measures were implemented in the package to reduce the air-borne noise emissions directly at the source. This also included measures for optimal acoustic integration of the oxidation catalytic converter, the charge air tube, oil sump and dampers on the crankcase on the firewall side. In addition, encapsulating the engine compartment in a sound-absorbent material ensures conditions remain quiet both inside and around the Golf.
Wind, environmental and background noise
Thanks to the Golf's impressive aerodynamic properties wind noise is reduced; meanwhile, environmental noises are absorbed for the most part by the elaborately sealed body. However, comprehensive noise insulation of the engine and running gear can mean that background sounds - e.g. from the blower, actuator motors, toothed belts or the turbocharger - might be perceived, while they were masked by engine noise in the previous model. This problem was solved through intensive work which reduced or eliminated background noise at source, and which largely avoided the need for additional, secondary acoustic measures in these areas.
The acoustically effective damping film used in the windscreen between the two glass laminations of the Golf Mk VI was carried over to the new generation. This film is especially effective at reducing noise or sound waves in the frequency range from 2.5 to 3.5 kHz. In addition, the use of absorbers in the front doors and innovative design of the door seals has achieved a further reduction in the amount of environmental noise that finds its way into the interior. The complete package of all acoustic measures has made the latest Golf one of the quietest cars in its class.
As already mentioned, at 4,255 mm the Golf is now 56 mm longer than the previous model, while the wheelbase has also been increased by 59 mm to a new 2,637 mm. Since the front wheels are also located 43 mm further forward, the interplay of the new dimensions not only creates sportier proportions and an improved crash structure, but also optimises interior space. At the same time, although the body has been lowered in height by 28 mm (1,452 mm) headroom in the interior is still very good. At 1,799 mm the new Golf is 13 mm wider, and the track widths have been increased by 8 mm in front and 6 mm at the rear.
The slight increases in length and width, as well as increased wheelbase and optimised track widths, have a perceptible effect on space in the passenger cabin, which is now 14 mm longer (1,750 mm). Passengers in the rear seating area, in particular, enjoy 15 mm more knee room. Shoulder room has grown by 31 mm to 1,420 mm and elbow room is increased by 22 mm to 1,469 mm. In the rear seating area, shoulder room was also improved by an additional 30 mm and elbow width by 20 mm. All Golfs have a 60:40 split backrest.
Overall, boot capacity has grown by 30 litres to 380 litres; while the variable-height cargo floor can also be lowered by 100 mm. The loading height of the boot is now class-leading at just 665 mm (-17 mm). In parallel, the maximum bootspace width has grown by 228 mm to 1,272 mm. Volkswagen has also increased the width of the bootspace opening by 47 mm to 1,023 mm.
Styling and controls
Significantly more room and even better ergonomics define the driver's area in the Volkswagen Golf Mk VII. Taller drivers in particular will welcome the seat position that has been moved back by 20 mm; the steering wheel's adjustment range has also been modified. Pedal distances have been optimised as well thanks to the Modular Transverse Matrix, with the space between the brake and accelerator pedals, for example, increased by 16 mm. Another ergonomic improvement: compared to the previous model, Volkswagen has raised the position of the gearbox controls by 20 mm; the gear shift grip now rests better in the driver's hand.
Tomasz Bachorski, Head of Interior Design for the Golf, comments: 'Every interior element has been redeveloped and redesigned. One noticeable feature here is the wide centre console that is oriented towards the driver, which is more typical of the premium category than the compact class. Never before have the traditionally high levels of objectivity and functionality in the Golf been implemented with such elegance and sophistication.'
In the middle of the centre console, beneath the switch for the hazard warning lights, is the infotainment touchscreen with its menu keys and dials. All information and entertainment systems have been completely redeveloped and restyled and for the first time, Volkswagen is introducing a generation of touchscreens with a proximity sensor and a function that reacts to wiping movements by the fingers (wipe and zoom movements as used on smartphones); the graphic design of the interface also corresponds to the new age of intuitive operation.
Located beneath the infotainment module are the well laid-out controls for climate control, followed by the lower section of the centre console that runs in a line up to the large centre armrest. The consistent design conveys a sense of sophistication of a premium class model. To the left of the driver are the buttons for the new electronic parking brake and its auto hold function. Integrated in front of it is a storage compartment which houses the multimedia interfaces (aux-in, USB and iPod interfaces). The compartment is also big enough to hold a smartphone. There is a large storage compartment hidden under the centre armrest that can be adjusted by up to 100 mm in length and five stages in height.
For the first time in a Volkswagen, and available in the UK from mid-2013 there will also optionally be a special provision to enhance the signal to a mobile phone. The phone is placed in a universal holder in the stowage bin where the phone's antenna becomes inductively 'coupled' and connected to the vehicle's external aerial, producing the same advantages as with a fixed phone installation:
Better reception and signal strength because an external aerial is being used
The inlays in the door panels have illuminated trim as part of the ambient lighting fitted as standard in the GT specification. The switches for the electric windows are ergonomically easy to access in the armrests; located in front of the door handle on the driver's side is the control for electric mirror adjustment. The door trim panels themselves display the motif of two intersecting curved lines, which logically divide the door trim's functional areas: armrest, door handle, storage bin and loudspeaker. Elements of the ambient lighting provide for optimal illumination and an elegant atmosphere at night.
For the Volkswagen Golf Mk VII, all five seating positions have been redesigned, front and rear. The seats exhibit well-contoured body lines, optimal support for dynamic driving, and a high level of comfort on long trips. These characteristics were achieved by designing the foam contours to fit body shapes properly and by the optimised springing and damping properties of the cold foam cushioning sections. The two higher specification models, SE and GT, are equipped with standard two-way lumbar support on the driver and front passenger seats. The optional 12-way electric driver's seat offers even greater individual adjustment.
The Golf is available as standard with a semi-automatic climate control system known as Climatic. Using a simple dial control, this maintains the desired cabin temperature automatically whatever the temperature outside.
While the system's functions are essentially the same as for the previous generation Golf, the system itself was completely redesigned to reduce noise and weight while increasing efficiency. Using simulations in the design phase, the cross sections of internal air conditioner components were modified to reduce net pressure losses. This also resulted in a noise level reduction of up to five dB(A) and to a significantly reduced need for electrical blower power - and hence a gain in efficiency. In addition, the use of a pulse-width modulated blower reduced current consumption by an average 4 Amperes. A distinct improvement in acoustics was also realised compared to the previous model by specific fluid dynamic studies of the recirculation air flaps. Partially reduced wall thicknesses of the polypropylene housing, a new fastening concept without complicated brackets, and the use of higher performance and weight-optimised heat exchangers led to significantly lower weight of the new air conditioner.
The packaging of the air conditioning system was also improved by such measures as a new filter layout above the blower in the air intake channel which makes it 140 mm narrower in this area. What's more this enabled a uniform layout of electrical system components between left-hand and right-hand drive vehicles, and created more space in the footwell area. A high-performance heat exchanger, as well as reduction of heat losses in the refrigerant cycle, demand-based use of electrical auxiliary heating and an innovative thermal management system, have also had a beneficial effect on heating performance. Compared to the previous model, the interior of the new Golf heats to a pleasantly warm temperature 30 per cent faster.
In addition, the refrigerant cycle was completely redesigned for maximum efficiency gain, weight reduction and manufacturing optimisation. The refrigerant cycle consists of a highly efficient compressor and condenser as well as an internal heat exchanger. Design of the refrigerant lines was also perfected resulting in weight savings. Another benefit of the efficient refrigerant cycle is that it cools the interior significantly faster.
As an option, SE and GT customers can specify fully automatic new 2Zone electronic climate control as an upgrade to Climatic. This regulates the Golf's interior temperature fully automatically via 2Zone temperature control (separate for driver and front passenger), and its intensity can be selected as 'Gentle', 'Moderate' or 'Intense').
The fully automatic control unit operates with various sensors for the sun, air quality and humidity. The sun sensor detects the intensity and direction of solar radiation, and the system is controlled accordingly. When the air quality sensor indicates that the concentration of nitrogen oxides or carbon monoxide outside has exceeded a defined limit, then the recirculation flap of the Climatronic system closes. The addition of a humidity sensor on the Golf means it is also possible to control the heating function with recirculation mode, resulting in significantly quicker heating of the interior without fogging of the windows.
The humidity sensor is also used to run the air conditioning compressor at as lower power level as is needed, thereby significantly reducing energy consumption on hot days. Here, the Climatronic automatically deactivates the compressor as soon as it is not needed to reach the desired temperature, or if there is no risk of window fogging and a preset limit for humidity is not exceeded in the interior. For the first time, air conditioning components that are relevant to fuel economy are then only activated when needed and are controlled to optimise energy consumption in all operating modes. The interplay of all components of the new air conditioning system leads to considerable fuel savings compared to the previous model.
The seventh-generation Golf is equipped with new radio and radio/navigation systems with completely new designs. All systems have a colour touchscreen as standard, which measures 5.8-inches; an optional eight-inch version is available in SE and GT Golfs.
For the first time, all displays have proximity sensors so as soon as the driver or front passenger moves a finger near to the touchscreen, the system automatically switches from display mode to input mode. The display mode shows a screen that is reduced to just the essentials. In the operating mode, on the other hand, the elements that can be activated by touch are specially highlighted to simplify intuitive operation. On the eight-inch Discover Navigation Pro system, the displays also have a function that lets users scroll through lists or browse CD covers in the media library with a swipe of the hand.
In designing the new generation of devices, Volkswagen's primary goal was to integrate the most advanced infotainment applications into the Golf, which should be consistently easy to use - despite all of the complexity of today's systems - i.e. they should be totally intuitive and therefore safe to use while driving.
'Composition Media' system (standard on S and SE)
With this sophisticated system, there are four buttons to the left and four to the right of the touchscreen. It works in conjunction with the following features:
DAB digital radio
In addition to the standard features on the Composition Media package, GT models benefit from the Discover Navigation system which adds the following:
preloaded European navigation data
Customers of SE models can choose to upgrade to the Discover Navigation system, while those with an SE or GT can specify the range-topping Discover Navigation Pro package. In this case the Golf is equipped with an eight-inch colour touchscreen and has the following:
voice activated control system for navigation, CD and radio functions
In addition to the introduction of the MQB platform, the reductions in weight and consequent cuts in fuel consumption and emissions, the seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf is also significant thanks to its enhanced value proposition. While this is true in the recommended retail price, it is also worth noting how much technology has been added to the new car. Features which were previously the reserve of cars in the premium and luxury segment are now standard on many Golfs, adding significantly to the car's overall safety and comfort credentials.
ABS, ESP and XDS (standard on all)
The previous generation Golf benefited from standard ABS and ESP plus seven airbags, while the seventh-generation also gains XDS electronic differential lock (formerly only on GTI and GTD) across the range for improved traction and handling. Technically speaking, XDS is a functional extension of the electronic limited-slip differential (EDL) which is a part of the standard ESP system.
Its benefits are experienced when driving quickly through a bend. ESP sensors provide information on lateral G forces, while ABS sensors monitor levels of friction. Using this information a control unit can predict when an inside wheel is about to lift and apply a braking force automatically to increase traction on the opposite front wheel. XDS differs from EDL however as it brakes the inner wheel before it loses traction rather than afterwards. The result is smoother, more sure-footed and safer progress with better traction through fast corners when on the limit of adhesion.
XDS also compensates for the understeer which is typical of front-wheel drive cars, meaning the Golf's driving characteristics are significantly more precise and neutral, leading to greater driving enjoyment.
Automatic Post-Collision Braking System (standard on all)
An innovative new feature is the Golf's Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, which has already won a safety innovation award from Germany's largest automobile club (ADAC). Studies have found that around a quarter of all traffic accidents involving personal injury are multiple collision incidents, in other words, when there is a second impact after the initial collision.
The Automatic Post-Collision Braking System automatically brakes the vehicle when it is involved in an accident in order significantly to reduce its residual kinetic energy and hence prevent or minimise the severity of a subsequent collision.
Triggering of the system is based on detection of a primary collision by the airbag sensors. Vehicle braking is limited by the ESP control unit to a maximum deceleration rate of 0.6 g. This value matches the deceleration level of Front Assist and ensures that the driver can take over handling of the car even in case of automatic braking.
The driver can 'override' the Automatic Post-Collision Braking System at any time; for example, if the system recognises that the driver is accelerating, it is disabled. The system is also deactivated if the driver initiates hard braking at an even higher rate of deceleration. Essentially, the system applies the brakes until a vehicle speed of 10 km/h is reached, so this residual vehicle speed can be used to steer to a safe location after the braking process.
Misfuel prevention device (standard on all diesel models)
On vehicles with a diesel engine, there is an insert with a mechanically locking flap on the filler neck for the fuel tank. The flap prevents a fuel nozzle from being inserted which is not suitable for diesel fuel (in other words a petrol fuel nozzle) thus protecting the vehicle from being filled with the wrong type of fuel.
Driver Alert system (standard on SE and GT, optional on S)
It is estimated that a quarter of motorway accidents are caused by driver tiredness. For this reason Volkswagen has introduced an innovative fatigue detection system, which is particularly valuable for company car drivers who may cover long distances without a scheduled break.
The Golf's Driver Alert system does not work in the same way as those from other manufacturers which monitor eye movements. Instead, for the first 15 minutes of a journey the system analyses the driver's characteristic steering and driving behaviour. Further into the journey the system continually evaluates signals such as steering angle, use of pedals and transverse acceleration. If the monitored parameters indicate a deviation from the initial behaviour recorded at the beginning of the trip, then waning concentration is assumed and warnings issued.
The system warns the driver with an acoustic signal lasting five seconds, while a visual message also appears in the instrument cluster recommending a break. If the driver does not take a break within the next 15 minutes, the warning is repeated.
This assistance system cannot detect so-called 'microsleep' but instead focuses on detecting early phases of lapses in concentration. This means it is much less costly than an eye movement monitoring based system - and also still functions when the driver is wearing sunglasses or driving in the dark.
PreCrash preventive occupant protection (standard on SE and GT, optional on S)
The Golf's preventive occupant protection system is just one example of a technology that has been transferred from the premium to the compact class, having been implemented first in the Touareg.
If the system detects a potential accident situation - such as by the initiation of hard braking via an activated brake assistant - the seatbelts of the driver and front passenger are automatically pre-tensioned to ensure the best possible protection by the airbag and belt system. When a critical and 'unstable' driving situation is detected, for example through severe oversteer or understeer with ESC intervention, the side windows are closed (except for a small gap) and so is the sunroof. This is because the head and side airbags offer optimal support and thereby achieve their best possible effectiveness when the windows and sunroof are almost fully closed.
Automatic Distance Control with Front Assist (standard on SE and GT)
Like the PreCrash system, Automatic Distance Control (ADC) has also until now been the preserve of cars in higher segments. Now standard from SE upwards in the Golf, the system uses a radar sensor integrated into the front of the car to detect distance from the car in front, maintain a preselected speed and automatically brake or accelerate in flowing traffic.
ADC operates over a speed range from 30 to 160 km/h (approx. 18 to 99 mph) with a manual gearbox and with DSG (dual clutch gearbox). In vehicles with DSG, ADC intervenes to such an extent that the car may be slowed to a standstill, depending on the situation. It may also automatically pull away in stop-and-go traffic. ADC maintains a preselected speed and a defined distance to the vehicle ahead, and it automatically brakes or accelerates in flowing traffic. The system dynamics can by individually varied by selecting one of the driving programmes from the driver profile selector.
Front Assist (standard on SE and GT)
Front Assist works like ADC with the radar sensor integrated into the front of the car, which continually monitors the distance to the traffic ahead. Even with ADC switched off, Front Assist helps assists the driver in critical situations by preconditioning the brake system and alerting the driver to any required reactions by means of visual and audible warnings. If the driver fails to brake hard enough, the system automatically generates sufficient braking force to help avoid a collision. Should the driver, meanwhile, not react at all, Front Assist automatically slows the car so that under optimal conditions the speed of any impact is minimised. The system also assists the driver by an alert if the car is getting too close to the vehicle in front. The City Emergency Braking function is also part of Front Assist.
City Emergency Braking (standard on SE and GT)
The City Emergency Braking function, first seen on the up! model and now standard on Golf from SE upwards is a system extension of Front Assist and scans the area in front of the car via radar sensor. It operates at speeds below 30 km/h (approx. 18 mph). If the car is in danger of colliding with a vehicle driving or parked up ahead and the driver does not react, the brake system is preconditioned in the same way as with Front Assist. If the driver fails to intervene, City Emergency Braking then automatically initiates hard braking to reduce the severity of the impact. In addition, if the driver is initiating braking, but fails to press the brake pedal sufficiently, the system will assist with maximum braking power
Lane Assist (optional on SE and GT)
The Golf's camera-based lane-keeping assistant with steering intervention detects lane markings and helps the driver to avoid critical lane changes or inadvertently leaving the lane. The camera sensor is activated from 40 mph and permanently scans lane markings to the right and left of the vehicle (both solid and dotted lines). If the car approaches a lane marking, Lane Assist warns the driver visually on the dashboard and via gentle steering vibration.
The system differentiates between intentional and unintended lane changes, for example, if the driver has activated the indicators; the driver can also override Lane Assist through a strong steering intervention, so essentially it detects gradual and unintended drifting.
High Beam Assist (optional on SE and GT)
High Beam Assist analyses traffic ahead and oncoming traffic - via a camera in the windscreen - and automatically controls activation and deactivation of the main beam (from 60 km/h, approx. 37 mph).
Driver profile selection (standard on SE and GT)
For the first time, a driver profile selection is available on the Golf, offering customers up to five different programmes to allow them to match their car settings to their desired driving style. The standard available programmes are: Eco, Sport, Normal and Individual. Each of these modes alters the throttle mapping and engine management (among other parameters) to the chosen style, so in Eco mode, for example, the engine management, air conditioning and ancillary systems are controlled to achieve maximum fuel efficiency. Vehicles with a DSG gearbox have an additional coasting function in Eco mode which disengages the gear to allow the engine to idle, thereby ensuring optimal utilisation of the car's kinetic energy and better fuel economy. A fifth profile - Comfort - is also offered on cars which have optional Adaptive Chassis Control.
Park Assist (optional on all models)
The latest version of the parking assistance system, Park Assist 2.0, now facilitates not only assisted parallel parking, but also reverse parking at right angles to the road. In addition, Park Assist 2.0 is also equipped with a braking and parking space exit function.
The system can be activated at speeds of up to 40 km/h (approx. 25 mph) by pressing a button on the centre console. Using the indicators, the driver selects the side on which the car is to be parked. If, using the ultrasound sensors, Park Assist detects a large enough parking space (a manoeuvring distance of 40 cm, front and 40 cm, rear, is sufficient), the assisted parking can begin: having put the vehicle into reverse, all the driver has to do is operate the accelerator and brake. The car takes care of the steering. Acoustic signals and visual information on the multifunction display assist the driver. If a collision is looming, the system can also actively apply the vehicle's brakes.
Panoramic tilt/slide sunroof (optional on SE and GT)
For the first time on the Golf hatchback a transparent panoramic sunroof is available, which occupies the maximum roof area possible, offers optimal ventilation and opening functions, does not reduce the car's torsional rigidity and has the visual effect of lengthening the windscreen from the outside. What is referred to as the light transparency area - the amount of light coming into the car when the roof is closed - was enlarged by 33 per cent compared to a normal tilt/slide sunroof. The tinted, heat-insulating glass, however, reflects away 99 per cent of UV radiation, 92 per cent of heat radiation and 90 per cent of light.
Keyless entry and start
The latest generation Golf is available with the option on all models of a Keyless entry and start system. When one of the door handles is touched, a signal is transmitted from an aerial integrated in the handle. The system then searches for a valid ID transmitter, from which it detects access authorisation. The antenna relays the code sent by the transmitter to the relevant control unit in the Golf. If the code is recognised, the system then unlocks the doors, deactivates the immobiliser (and the anti-theft alarm system where fitted), and allows the vehicle to be started at the push of a button. Other antennae check whether the ID transmitter is in the car. For example, to protect children, the Golf cannot be started if the ID transmitter is too far away from the vehicle. It is not possible, for example, to put the transmitter on the roof, get in the car and drive off.
If no door is opened within 30 seconds, the doors lock again as with a conventional system operated by remote control. From inside the vehicle, it is unlocked by pressing a button in the door handle. The Golf can also be unlocked and locked by remote control.
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 85 PS, a 1.2-litre TSI with 105 PS, a 1.4-litre TSI with 122 PS and a 1.4-litre TSI 140 PS unit with Active Cylinder Technology, which can deactivate two of the four cylinders for enhanced economy. The diesel engines are a 1.6-litre unit with 105 PS and a 2.0-litre 150 PS unit. A 1.6-litre TDI 110 PS will follow in the Golf BlueMotion.
All the petrol units are from the EA211 series, the new family of engines designed for the MQB platform. This comprises both three- and four-cylinder engines and includes the 1.0-litre engine which was introduced in the up!. All the EA211 series engines in the Golf are class-leading in terms of their energy efficiency, lightweight design and high torque performance. Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions values were reduced by eight to ten per cent, in part due to reduced internal friction, lower weight and optimised thermal management; in conjunction with the innovative new cylinder deactivation system (ACT), the savings potential can be as much as 23 per cent.
The EA211 engines are also characterised by a new mounting position. Whereas the EA111 series was mounted with a forward tilt and the 'hot' exhaust side at the front, with the EA211, the cylinder head has been rotated and the engines are now tilted towards the firewall (bulkhead between engine compartment and passenger compartment), like the diesel engines. With the diesel (EA288) and petrol engines now sharing an identical inclination angle of 12 degrees, Volkswagen can now standardise the exhaust, driveshafts and gearbox mounting position.
The EA211 is a complete redesign; only the cylinder spacing of 82 mm was adopted from Volkswagen's successful EA111 engine series. The new unit is also particularly compact and this is reflected in its mounting length, which has been shortened by 50 mm; as a result the front axle could be shifted forward, resulting in more interior passenger space.
Thanks to an ultra-rigid crankcase made of die-cast aluminium, the new petrol engines are especially lightweight at 97 kg (1.2 TSI) and 104 kg (1.4 TSI); on the 1.4-litre TSI, the weight advantage compared to the grey cast iron counterpart from the EA111 series is as much as 22 kg. This approach to lightweight design extends to the smallest of details: engine developers reduced the main bearing diameter of the crankshaft on the 1.4-litre TSI from 54 to 48 mm; the crankshaft itself was lightened by 20 per cent, while the weight of the connecting rods was reduced by an impressive 30 per cent. The gudgeon pins are bored hollow, and the aluminium pistons (now with flat piston crowns) have also been weight optimised.
By fully integrating the exhaust manifold in the cylinder head, the engine heats up quickly from a cold start, while simultaneously supplying ample heat to the car's climate control system to warm up the interior. At high loads, on the other hand, the exhaust gas is more effectively cooled by the coolant, which reduces fuel consumption by up to 20 per cent.
To optimise thermal management, Volkswagen engineers designed the EA211 with a dual-loop cooling system. The base engine is cooled by a high-temperature loop with a mechanically driven coolant pump, while a low-temperature loop, powered by an electric pump, circulates coolant to the intercooler and turbocharger housing as needed. Passenger compartment heating comes from the cylinder head circulation loop, so that, like the engine, it warms up quickly.
Due to innovative engineering of the exhaust manifold, Volkswagen was able to use a very narrow single-scroll compressor in the turbocharger, resulting in weight reduction for the cylinder head turbocharger component group. On the EA211, the intercooler is integrated in the induction pipe which is made of injection-moulded plastic, leading to significantly accelerated pressure build-up and hence dynamic performance in downsized engines.
In the seventh generation, Volkswagen has again significantly reduced internal friction in a number of ways. The overhead camshafts (DOHC) are not chain driven, but employ a single stage, low-friction toothed belt design, a 20 mm wide belt and load-reducing profiled belt wheels. Thanks to its high-end material specification, this toothed belt's service life spans the life of the vehicle. Actuation of the valve gear is through roller cam followers, and an anti-friction bearing for the highly loaded first camshaft bearing, also lead to reduced friction resistances.
To ensure that the engine takes up as little mounting space as possible, ancillary components such as the water pump, air conditioning compressor and alternator are screwed directly to the engine and the oil sump without additional brackets, and they are driven by a single-track toothed belt with a fixed tension roller.
To reduce emissions and fuel consumption further, and to improve torque in the lower rev range, the intake camshaft on all EA211 engines can be varied over a range of 50 degrees crankshaft angle. On the 140 PS, the exhaust camshaft is variable as well. It sets the desired spread of control times and thereby allows even more spontaneous response from low revs; at the same time, torque is improved at high engine speeds.
The maximum fuel injection pressure on the EA211 engines was increased to 200 bar. State-of-the-art five-hole injection nozzles deliver up to three individual injections to each of the cylinders very precisely via a stainless steel distributor bar. In designing the combustion chamber, Volkswagen also paid particular attention to achieving minimal wetting of the combustion chamber walls with fuel and optimised flame propagation.
1.2-litre TSI, 1197 cc, 8-valve 4-cyl, 85 PS
The entry-level engine in the Golf is a turbocharged, direct injection TSI engine producing 85 PS from 4,300 to 5,300 rpm, with torque of 160 Nm (118 lbs ft) from 1,400 to 3,500 rpm. Thanks to refinement and weight saving, compared with the equivalent unit in the previous generation, fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions have been reduced.
This Golf, with a standard five-speed manual gearbox, has a zero to 62 mph time of 11.9 seconds and a top speed of 111 mph. Combined economy is 57.6 mpg with CO2 emissions of 113 g/km.
1.2-litre TSI, 1197 cc, 8-valve 4-cyl, 105 PS
Moving up the range this 1.2-litre turbocharged Volkswagen Golf produces 105 PS at 5,000 rpm and 175 Nm (129 lbs ft) of torque between 1,400 and 3,500 rpm and is available with a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG gearbox. Standstill to 62 mph takes 10.2 seconds with a top speed of 119 mph. Yet performance does not come at the expense of economy: combined fuel consumption is 57.6 mpg (56.5 DSG) with carbon dioxide emissions of 114 g/km (115 DSG).
1.4-litre TSI, 1390 cc, 8-valve 4-cyl, 122 PS
For those looking for additional power but still combined with impressive economy the Golf is also available with a turbocharged 1.4-litre TSI with 122 PS at 5,000 rpm and maximum torque of 200 Nm (148 lbs ft) from 1,400 rpm to 3,500 rpm. This engine, which is offered with a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG gearbox, enables a top speed of 126 mph and 0 to 62 mph in 9.3 seconds. Economy is still high on the agenda with a combined consumption of 54.3 mpg (56.5 DSG) and CO2 output of 120 g/km (116 DSG).
1.4-litre TSI, 1395 cc, 8-valve 4-cyl, 140 PS with Active Cylinder Technology
The current range-topping petrol Golf is a 1.4-litre TSI with 140 PS from 4,500 to 6,000 rpm, 250 Nm (184 lbs ft) of torque from just 1,500 to 3,500 rpm and, for the first time in a Volkswagen, Active Cylinder Technology for lower fuel consumption and emissions. Also available with a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG gearbox, this engine gives the Golf a 0 to 62 mph time of 8.4 seconds and a top speed of 131 mph. Combined consumption is 60.1 mpg (60.1 DSG) with carbon dioxide emissions of just 109 g/km (112 DSG).
The impressive figures are thanks to the implementation of active cylinder technology (ACT), a fuel saving innovation that was previously the preserve of large eight or 12 cylinder engines. By temporarily deactivating the second and third cylinders, over 0.5 litres of fuel per 100 km can be saved, depending on driving style. This is only possible with TSI technology.
ACT is active over an engine speed range between 1,400 and 4,000 rpm and torques of up to 85 Nm, a broad spread which covers 70 per cent of all driving modes in the EU cycle. If the driver presses the accelerator pedal hard, cylinders 2 and 3 begin to work again, without a noticeable transition. The high efficiency of the system does not have any negative effects on smooth running: even with two cylinders the 1.4-litre TSI runs just as quietly and with low vibration as with four active combustion chambers. All mechanical switchover processes take place within one camshaft rotation; depending on engine speed this takes just 13 to 36 milliseconds. Accompanying interventions in ignition and throttle valve processes smooth the transitions. Two-cylinder mode is indicated to the driver in the Multi-Function Display in the instrument binnacle.
Altogether, the components for active cylinder technology system weigh just 3 kg. Their actuators, the camshafts and their bearing frames are integrated in the cylinder head; two low-friction bearings reduce shaft friction.
Volkswagen is introducing a new series of diesel engines - called EA288 - for the Golf alongside the new petrol line-up. Within this series, Volkswagen is taking its TDI technology, which has been developed over the years, to a new level of sustainability, with reductions in consumption across the range.
As with the new petrol engines (EA211), the only dimension of the Golf's new four-cylinder diesels that has been carried over from the previous generation is the cylinder spacing. Many components were designed to be modular within the new modular diesel component system (MDB). These include emissions-relevant components such as the fuel injection system, turbocharger and intercooler within the induction manifold module. In addition, a sophisticated exhaust gas recirculation system is used (with a cooled low-pressure AGR), while the layout of emissions control components sees them located closer to the engine. To fulfil various emissions standards worldwide, an oxidation catalytic converter, diesel particulate filter and NOx storage catalytic converter are all implemented in the Golf.
Various other design modifications optimise fuel economy and comfort significantly as well. Volkswagen has tuned all sub-assemblies of the new TDI engine for minimal internal friction. These elements include piston rings with less pre-tension and the use of low-friction bearings for the camshaft (drive-side) and âˆ’ in the 2.0-litre TDI âˆ’ for the two balancer shafts. In the oil circulation loop, energy usage was optimised by an oil pump with volumetric flow control.
During the TDI's warm-up phase, an innovative thermal management system utilises separate cooling circulation loops for the cylinder head and the cylinder block as well as a deactivatable water pump, meaning operating temperatures are reached considerably faster. One additional benefit of this is that the interior of the Golf also gets warmer more quickly in the winter. Another independently controlled cooling loop enables on-demand control of inlet air temperature with additional emissions control benefits.
The new diesels not only have very low emissions, high fuel-efficiency and torque, but they also run very smoothly for optimum refinement. This is achieved in a number of ways, for example, the 2.0-litre TDI 150 PS employs two low-friction bearings in its balancer shafts to eliminate free out of balance forces that are a characteristic of any piston engine systems.
1.6-litre TDI, 1598 cc, 8-valve 4-cyl, 105 PS
The Golf's entry-level diesel is a 1.6-litre common rail TDI producing 105 PS between 3,000 and 4,000 rpm, and 250 Nm (184 lbs ft) of torque from 1,500 to 2,750. Available with a choice of five-speed manual or, in SE guise, optional seven-speed DSG gearbox, it gives this Golf a 0 to 62 mph time of 10.7 seconds and a top speed of 109 mph. Frugality comes as standard: on the combined cycle it returns 74.3 mpg (72.4 DSG) while emitting 99 g/km of CO2 (102 DSG).
2.0-litre TDI, 1968, 8-valve 4-cyl, 150 PS
This new 2.0-litre engine produces 150 PS (10 PS more than the equivalent engine in the previous generation) from 3,500 to 4,000, and 320 Nm (236 lbs ft) of torque from just 1,750 up to 3,000 rpm. Customers choosing this engine can opt for a six-speed manual or DSG gearbox. Performance is impressive but does not come at the expense of economy. The Golf's 2.0-litre TDI completes the 0 to 62 mph sprint in 8.6 seconds and goes on to a top speed of 134 mph (131 DSG). Combined economy is 68.9 mpg (62.8 DSG) with a carbon dioxide output of 106 g/km (119 DSG).
For the past few years, Volkswagen has been producing and developing a range of vehicles that strikes a balance between the highly focused BlueMotion vehicles and the conventional products on which they are based. The range, carrying the 'BlueMotion Technology' badge, combines efficiency with comfort and equipment to create vehicles that deliver greater economy and produce fewer emissions yet are practical as well as conventional to drive, service and maintain.
All new Golf models are equipped with 'BlueMotion Technology' modifications and feature a multifunction computer which includes visual gear change recommendation for optimum fuel consumption, as well as Stop/Start and battery regeneration systems.
The Golf's automatic Stop/Start system is operated through the clutch pedal. When coming to a halt at traffic lights, for example, the driver depresses the clutch and selects neutral. When the clutch is released, the engine shuts down and a 'Start / Stop' symbol illuminates on the multifunction display. In order to move away, the driver simply depresses the clutch once again to select first gear and the engine restarts automatically. The system can be deactivated through a switch, if necessary. With the DSG gearbox, the Stop/Start system is activated through the brake pedal.
A battery regeneration system helps to utilise energy that would otherwise be lost during braking. In deceleration and braking phases, the alternator's voltage is boosted and used for rapid recharging of the car's battery. Thanks to alternator control, it is possible to lower alternator voltage, for example during deceleration or driving at a constant speed. It is even possible to switch off the alternator entirely which reduces engine load and improves fuel consumption. The 1.4-litre 140 PS TSI also features Active Cylinder Technology to reduce fuel consumption and emissions.
Eco mode: driver profile selection
SE and GT Golf models have a standard driver profile selection facility which allows the drive to choose an operating mode which suits their style and journey. One of the available modes is 'Eco', whereby the engine management, air conditioning and ancillary systems are controlled to achieve maximum fuel efficiency. Vehicles with a DSG gearbox have an additional coasting function in Eco mode which disengages the gear to allow the engine to idle, thereby ensuring better utilisation of the car's kinetic energy and better fuel economy.
As detailed above, most of the Golf's engines can be paired with a dual-clutch gearbox (DSG). This is either a six- or seven-speed DSG, depending on maximum engine torque, and both are designed to offer the best combination of fuel-efficiency and shifting dynamics. In addition to the number of gears, the six- and seven- speed 'boxes differ in their clutch types. While two dry clutches are used in the seven-speed DSG, the six-speed DSG has a dual clutch that runs in an oil bath.
First launched in 2005, Volkswagen's Direct Shift Gearbox combines the comfort of an automatic gearbox with the responsiveness and economy of a manual unit. The six-speed, DSG unit has two wet clutches with hydraulic pressure regulation. One clutch controls the 'odd' gears plus reverse, while the other operates the 'even' gears. Theoretically, it is two gearboxes in one.
With this clutch management system, the interruptions in power that are typical of even an automatic-shift manual gearbox no longer occur. This is achieved by an intelligent hydraulic and electronic (mechatronic) gearbox control system, the two wet-type clutches and the two input and output shafts in each half of the gearbox.
This combination enables the next-higher gear ratio to remain engaged but on standby until it is actually selected. In other words, if the car is being driven in third gear, fourth is selected but not yet activated. As soon as the ideal shift point is reached, the clutch on the third-gear side opens, the other clutch closes and fourth gear engages under accurate electronic supervision. Since the opening and closing actions of the two clutches overlap, a smooth gearshift results and the entire shift process is completed in less than four-hundredths of a second. In addition to its fully automatic shift mode, DSG has a Tiptronic function to permit manual gear selection.
This gearbox uses a pair of dry clutches to improve fuel efficiency and performance. The pair of dry, organic bonded friction linings do not require cooling, making the drivetrain more efficient through the extra gear ratio and the fact that less power is required for the gear selection and clutch servo system. Measuring only 369 mm in length and weighing only 79 kg including the dual-mass flywheel, the gearbox is remarkably compact.
In adopting seven-speeds, Volkswagen engineers were able to lower first gear to improve acceleration from a standstill. By contrast seventh gear has been raised to act as an overdrive function making it ideal for motorway driving with the additional effect of further improving economy and refinement levels.
The volume of oil contained within the gearbox has also been reduced by 75 per cent. The lubrication circuits are divided into two to maintain the purity of the oil. As with a conventional manual gearbox, one of the circuits is used for cooling and lubrication of the gear teeth, the second feeds oil to the gear actuators. Since the clutch does not require cooling the quantity of oil has been reduced from seven litres in the six-speed DSG gearbox to only 1.7 litres in the new seven-speed system.
Volkswagen offers customers a choice of servicing regime for their Volkswagen Golf. They can choose Fixed Service or Flexible Service and the appropriate selection is entirely dependent on how the car is likely to be driven and its general use.
The Fixed Service regime is recommended for vehicles that will cover less than 10,000 miles in 12 months and if the vehicle is likely to be used in the following way:
Predominantly urban driving, short journeys with frequent cold starts
Flexible Service is recommended for vehicles with a daily mileage of more than 25 miles, where the vehicle is driven regularly and on mainly longer distance journeys. The vehicle should be mainly driven at a constant speed with minimum vehicle and engine loading, minimal towing and driven in an economical manner. In this case, the on-board computer informs the driver via a dashboard display, when the vehicle needs a service. A range of engine sensors electronically monitors the vehicle's oil temperature, oil pressure, oil level and brake pad wear to establish when a service is needed.
With the Flexible regime, the vehicle can cover typically between 10,000 and 18,000 miles (approx) or 24 months (whichever is sooner) between oil changes. An inspection service is typically due in the third year of ownership or at 40,000 miles and thereafter every second year for vehicles with an annual mileage of around 10,000 miles.
Customers can choose between Fixed and Flexible at PDI (pre-delivery inspection) and though it is possible to change from one to another during the vehicle's life, it can only be done when a full inspection service is due.
In developing the running gear for the seventh generation Golf, engineers set out to exploit the advantages of the new Modular Transverse Matrix (or MQB platform), and certain specific proven components were further advanced to perfect the car's ride and comfort properties. At the same time, weight reduction was defined as a clear priority, in order to maximise the reductions in fuel consumption and enhance ride comfort.
In order to allow the greatest possible weight reduction, a new modular lightweight rear suspension system was developed for Golf models with 122 PS and less, which weighs just 38 kg. For the more powerful versions, the further developed modular performance suspension was used, weighing 49 kg.
At the front the Golf uses a strut-type suspension system (spring struts) with lower wishbones that were newly developed for optimal handling and steering properties. All components were reworked for improved functionality as well as reduced weight and costs. The result, despite not using aluminium components, was a weight saving of 1.6 kg, made possible, for example, by the use of high-strength steel in the transverse links and an innovative 'bionic' (ie designed based on features from the natural world) design approach to the pivot bearings. A centrally positioned front subframe âˆ’ designed for maximum rigidity âˆ’ handles loads from the engine mountings and steering as well as front suspension loads.
The now universally employed tubular anti-roll bar has a stiffness that has been adapted to the requirements of different running gear layouts. Its rubber bearings are vulcanised directly into the painted anti-roll tube to ensure the best acoustic properties. For use with 16- and 17-inch wheel brakes, a new aluminium pivot bearing was also developed. The use of aluminium and the 'bionic' design of this pivot bearing resulted in weight reduction of 2.8 kg.
Modular lightweight rear suspension
The new modular lightweight rear suspension system consists of a transverse torsion beam that is open at the bottom, into which an insert plate is welded at the outer ends. Different torsional stiffness rates for different versions are attained by different lengths of the insert plates. This yields a considerable weight saving compared to a welded tubular anti-roll bar. The use of a transverse profile that is open at the bottom also enables optimal roll/steer behaviour and high transverse rigidity. By using high-strength steels and innovative design methods, Volkswagen succeeded in significantly increasing rigidity compared with previous suspensions systems of this construction type. Despite this, its weight was reduced.
Modular performance rear suspension
The multi-link rear suspension of the seventh generation Golf was further developed to give clear improvements in kinematics, acoustics, weight and modularity. However, nothing has changed with regard to its fundamental approach of consistently separating longitudinal and transverse rigidities. The low longitudinal rigidity has been preserved by the soft axle control of the trailing link; this was a necessary precondition for further improving ride comfort.
Furthermore, compared with the previous generation, Volkswagen successfully improved the transverse rigidity of the modular performance suspension, which is important for steering behaviour, by a new tie rod bearing tuning. Tracking and camber values are individually tuned by screws on the spring link and at the upper transverse link according to requirement for each vehicle type. Key design changes to the rear suspension are the connections of the tubular antiroll bar and the suspension damper, which are now made at the spring link. This reduces forces within the suspension, while in addition the suspension was made 4.0 kg or 8 per cent (depending on model) lighter thanks to structural optimisations of many components and the use of high-strength steels.
Electro-mechanical power steering
The Golf uses the latest generation electro-mechanical power steering system which is able to vary the feel at the steering wheel to suit the speed and driving situation: firm and direct when driving hard, effortless at parking speeds.
Other advantages of the system include its mild self-centring action, its ability to compensate for different driving hazards, such as crosswinds and steep road cambers, and a beneficial effect on fuel economy.
The Golf features a sophisticated braking system, with ABS and ESP (Electronic Stabilisation Programme) as standard across the range. Ventilated discs are fitted at the front, with solid discs on the rear axle.
Electronic Stabilisation Programme - ESP incorporating XDS
The latest-generation ESP system developed for the new Golf has a range of features designed to have a direct and positive effect on active safety. All models are also fitted with XDS electronic differential lock for improved traction and handling.
Essentially, ESP is a sophisticated system that automatically senses any tendency for the car to slide. Should this situation occur, ESP reacts by applying the brakes to one, two, three or all four wheels and adjusts the engine's power. In this way, it is possible that a skid is corrected even before the driver is aware that one has started.
This can be useful if a tendency to understeer or oversteer develops in a bend. In such circumstances ESP can help prevent the car skidding or spinning off the road and is particularly helpful in wet or icy conditions.
The latest generation of ESP fitted to the Golf has a finer response, counter-steering recommendation and offers trailer stabilisation. This function can be activated by a Volkswagen Retailer when a Volkswagen-approved towbar is fitted. This system extends the capability of the normal ESP purely through a software extension. It does not require additional sensors.
When the onset of yawing of a trailer is detected by the ESP control module the system automatically reduces or cuts engine power and applies the brakes to appropriate wheels dynamically in phase with the yawing to oppose the snaking motion and stabilise the vehicle/trailer combination. When stability is achieved the brakes and engine power return to normal control. During the automatic braking process the brake lights are turned on even though the driver may not be touching the brake pedal.
Hydraulic Brake Assist
Working in conjunction with the other elements of the braking system, the latest form of HBA recognises from the speed at which the brake pedal is depressed whether it is a 'normal' braking situation or an emergency stop. In the event of an emergency stop, HBA automatically increases braking pressure, activating ABS and ensuring the level of braking meets the needs of the conditions. The application of brake assist makes it possible even for unskilled drivers to reduce braking distances by around 25 per cent.
Adaptive Chassis Control (ACC) (optional on SE and GT)
Engineers have in the past been constrained to design a suspension system which is biased either towards comfort or sportiness, always resulting in some form of compromise. The ideal, it was decided, would be to produce ride and handling characteristics that could continually adapt to road conditions and the particular wishes of the driver or passengers. Enter ACC.
With this system, not only can the suspension's damping characteristics be controlled at the touch of a button, but the electro-mechanical power steering and accelerator response are also modified at the same time.
ACC functions via a set of four electrically adjustable dampers operated through pneumatic valves. Each damper is fitted with characteristic map control, a gateway control module that serves as an interface with the CAN data networks in the Golf - these comprise three sensors for measuring wheel displacement, three sensors for measuring movements of the body structure and a control module for the damping.
These sensors constantly (up to 1,000 times per second) measure the vehicle's behaviour - be it under braking, acceleration or cornering - and react almost instantaneously to ensure the optimum mix of chassis agility and comfort at all times. The vehicle defaults to 'Normal' mode in which the system strikes a balance for general use. Should the driver select 'Sport' mode the steering assistance is reduced, the damping is hardened and the throttle responses are sharpened as the mapping changes. This is intended for either twisty roads or track driving. In 'Comfort' the damping is softened and the steering assistance is increased to provide a smooth and controlled ride best suited to motorway driving.
For the latest-generation Golf, the latest generation of ACC has been employed. Cars fitted with ACC have a 10 mm lower ride height, as well as their own specific spring, damper and anti-roll bar settings. For the MQB platform the ACC system was extended to add a version for cars with 122 PS or less and hence modular lightweight suspension. For the new generation certain parameters were also modified: designs of the wheel displacement sensors were adapted and weight optimised; the body accelerometers were converted from three analogue lines to two digital lines; and the ACC control unit was redesigned in its hardware configuration, components and layout. A new generation of processors operating at 180 MHz assures control with one-millisecond cycles.
Electronic parking brake with auto hold function
All new Golf models have an electronic parking brake which is operated via a switch between the front seats, as opposed to the 'pull up' handle from the previous generation. This also incorporates a standard auto hold function. This is activated via a button near the gear lever and is useful when the car is regularly stopping for short periods, for example when driving in heavy traffic. In this case, the parking brake is applied automatically whenever the vehicle is brought to rest on the footbrake, preventing it from rolling forwards or backwards. The brake is then released as soon as the accelerator is pressed.
If auto hold has been switched on when the vehicle ignition is on, it will automatically be switched on the next time the vehicle is started. Likewise if auto hold has been switched off when the vehicle ignition is on, it will automatically be switched off the next time the vehicle is started.
As well as making this latest generation the most technically advanced Golf, designers and developers were also set the task of making this the safest Golf yet - quite a challenge given the accompanying weight reduction targets.
Naturally the latest generation Volkswagen Golf has, like its predecessor, seven airbags, including a knee airbag on the driver's side. The special location of the knee airbag - beneath the knee impact area on the instrument panel - ensures that there is no contact between the airbag door and the lower leg.
In the event of a crash the airbag deploys in front of the driver's knees in less than 20 milliseconds and absorbs - in conjunction with the seatbelt and front airbag - a significant share of the crash energy. The driver is integrated into the vehicle's deceleration early via the thighs and pelvis, and the steering wheel airbag cushions the driver's chest and head at the optimal angle in the resulting, gently introduced upper body movement.
In general, the knee airbag protects the driver's legs from a hard collision with the steering column and instrument panel. In an offset impact, the feet are also better protected against lateral ankle twist.
Whiplash Optimised Head Restraint System: WOKS
Injuries caused by hyperextensions of the spine - or whiplash - are extremely common following car accidents. Volkswagen has developed WOKS - its Whiplash Optimised Head Restraint System - to counteract whiplash injuries by co-ordinating the movements of the head and upper body as synchronously as possible via the seatbacks and head restraints. The latest generation of WOKS is fitted as standard on the Golf.
To reduce the risk of injury, excellent protection is afforded by achieving defined deceleration velocity of the upper body via the seatback, co-ordinated deceleration of the head via the head restraint, and balanced motions of head and upper body. Key to this are the special contour of the head restraints and seatbacks as well as the hardness of the foam material used here. The contoured shape of the head restraints is being patented by Volkswagen. On related studies, WOKS has demonstrated a level of protective potential that is substantially better than the biomechanical values attained by many active systems.
Seatbelt fastening detection for the rear
Another highlight in the Golf is the seatbelt fastening detection system for rear passengers. This function is standard when optional side airbags and belt tensioners are ordered for the outer rear seat positions. Thanks to this warning system, the driver can tell whether occupants are buckled up in the rear when starting the car and during driving.
After switching on the ignition, the driver is informed via the multifunctional display for 30 seconds whether occupants are buckled up in the rear. If a seatbelt is fastened, a relevant symbol is shown (buckled person) for the specific seat location; an unfastened seatbelt is also displayed (empty seat). While driving, if the rear seatbelts are unfastened at a vehicle speed greater than 25 km/h (approx. 15 mph), the seatbelt indicator flashes for 30 seconds (displayed symbol alternates between empty seat and buckled occupant); an acoustic signal is also heard.
Euro NCAP test results
The Golf was tested ahead of launch by the Euro NCAP (European New Car Assessment Programme) crash test agency, and received a top five-star rating. It also won the award for innovations in the area of integral safety at the highly esteemed Euro NCAP Advanced Awards. Along with Lane Assist and Front Assist, the PreCrash preventive occupant protection and the standard Automatic Post-Collision Braking System were recognised as pioneering safety innovations. This is further confirmation of the excellent competitive position of the Golf in its class.
The new Golf was awarded top ratings for its occupant protection. Evaluated here were frontal and side impact tests, a pole side impact test and what is known as the whiplash test, in which loads to the spine are measured in a rear end collision. Not only adults, but children too can feel safe in the new Golf. This was verified in tests, some of which utilised dummies sized to represent 18-month-old and three-year-old children. The new Golf also impressed testers with its pedestrian protection capabilities.
Line up with insurance groups
Thanks to its impressive security and safety features, the Golf has secured the following insurance group ratings from the ABI (Association of British Insurers), all of which are lower than those achieved by the previous generation model:
The Volkswagen Golf Mk VII has a three-year (first- and second-year manufacturer-operated, third-year retailer-operated) / 60,000-mile mechanical warranty. In addition, it comes with a 12-year body protection guarantee, three year paint warranty and a year's membership of Volkswagen Assistance which includes European breakdown cover. The latter can be extended at minimal cost to the customer.