Volkswagen Golf

When we first saw the seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf in the manufacturer-provided stock photos, we were a little let down. In a word, it looked... droopy. But now that we've seen Volkswagen's new global hatch in person, we have to say, it's a handsome little thing.

Perhaps the most remarkable fact about the new Golf is that it's a full 220 pounds lighter than the outgoing model. That's all thanks to the new MQB platform that underpins the compact VW, which uses lightweight, high-strength steel in droves.

In Europe, buyers will be able to choose from a range of gasoline and diesel powerplants, including a new 1.4-liter turbocharged inline-four that's reportedly good for about 49 miles per gallon (on the European cycle). Here in the States, rumor has it that the aging 2.5-liter inline-five will be swapped out for a new 1.8-liter turbo-four. And we don't see any reason why the lovely 2.0-liter turbodiesel unit won't carry over, as well.

Check out a fresh batch of Golf images live from the Paris Motor Show floor in our gallery above, and scroll down to thumb through Volkswagen's press release.
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VOLKSWAGEN UNVEILS SEVENTH-GENERATION GOLF IN BERLIN

Herndon, VA - Volkswagen today unveiled the new Golf, its best-selling car, at a press conference in Berlin, Germany. This seventh-generation version of one of the world's most popular cars is striking in that it offers more features, even better safety, and more performance than the outgoing vehicle, while breaking the cycle of being heavier than its predecessor.

Overcoming the weight spiral

Indeed, the latest Golf is up to 220 pounds lighter than the outgoing car, thanks to careful focus on weight savings in all aspects of the car's construction, from the electrical architecture through to the engines and the body-in-white. The air conditioning unit is, for example, six pounds lighter than the old car's; the seats have shed 15 pounds; and the body-in-white is 51 pounds lighter. One major reason for the bodyshell's weight loss is the extensive use of high- and ultra-high strength steels. The share of the high-strength steels overall has gone from 66 percent in the previous Golf to 80 percent in the new one. Of this, the share of ultra-high-strength steel has gone from six to 28 percent.

Better fuel efficiency

One benefit of lowering the Golf's weight is better fuel economy: the European-market 1.4 TSI® that uses a 140-horsepower, turbocharged, 1.4-liter engine fitted with cylinder de-activation gets a European Cycle combined fuel consumption figure of 49 mpg, while the base 105-horsepower TDI® Clean Diesel engine delivers 62 mpg on the EC combined cycle.

Longer, lower, wider

The new Golf is 2.2 inches longer than the old car, with an overall length of 167.5 inches. Similarly, the wheelbase has grown by 2.3 inches to 103.8 inches. Since the front wheels are now located 1.7 inches further forward, the proportions are sportier, the crash structure is improved, and the interior package further optimized. The new car is 0.8 inches lower and 0.5 inches wider than the old car.

Improved interior

The new Golf is more spacious, with a passenger compartment that is 0.6 inches longer than before, giving 0.6 inches more rear kneeroom. Shoulder room is improved by 1.2 inches in both the back and front of the car. Cargo capacity has also been enhanced, while the load area is more accessible.

A key feature of the interior is a new infotainment system, which incorporates a five-inch touchscreen, even on entry-level European models. At the top end, the Golf features a navigation system which has a large, eight-inch touchscreen.