it’s time to face the future at Volkswagen! The MkVI Golf has only just gone on sale, but the firm is already working on its replacement, due in 2012 – two years sooner than anticipated.
Our illustrations show how the MkVII is likely to look. And as usual with VW’s most important model, the styling is evolutionary.
But it’s under the skin where this model plans to break new ground – leading the way in how cars of the future will be made.
Reports suggest the MkVII will differ so radically from its predecessor that it bears comparison to the giant leap Ford made from the Escort to the Focus in 1998.
Bucking the trend for ever-increasing dimensions and kerbweights, the newcomer will rely on a smaller platform than the current car, with many components borrowed from the forthcoming Polo. Lightweight body panels will reduce weight, so similar performance can be achieved from smaller-capacity forced-induction engines. And diesels are expected to make up an even bigger percentage of sales than at present.
VW’s highly efficient twin-clutch DSG gearbox will be offered across the range as well, while advances in its resilience mean high-powered versions such as the GTI will benefit from seven ratios instead of six for the first time.
But it’s not just conventional engineering that’s going to make the Golf the greenest in its class – the hatch is set to join the hybrid party. We tried a prototype of VW’s Twin Drive technology last year (Issue 1,024), although it won’t go into full production until the MkVII emerges.
It combines a frugal 1.5-litre diesel unit with three compact electric motors, and the plug-in drivetrain can operate on battery power alone below 31mph for around 30 miles. Above that speed, it works in tandem with the oil-burner, and takes over entirely at motorway speeds. The result is a startling 113mpg – more than twice what a standard 2.0-litre TDI can muster.
Beyond that, VW is already working on an HCCI engine – a petrol unit that thinks it’s a diesel. By ditching the spark plugs, this blends the fuel efficiency of a diesel with the cleaner emissions and free-revving nature of a petrol.
And as HCCI engines run most efficiently at constant rpm, there’s even talk of using it to extend the range on a plug-in hybrid powertrain – giving a similar set-up to the Chevrolet Volt.
But one thing is for certain: for the first time, VW’s focus will be on fuel efficiency, recyclability and environmental credentials above all else.
Auto Express’s spies have caught the 2009 Polo testing on more than one occasion – but it’s what’s underneath the camouflaged body that’s of interest. Elements of the Polo’s underpinnings will be borrowed by the MkVII Golf. The new Polo debuts at the Geneva Motor Show next week – and we’ll have the first official images in Issue 1,053. MkVII will also take technology from the Twin Drive prototype.