Lot rid­ing on Golf scores

VW needs the next Golf to drive for dough, writes PAUL GOVER IT LOOKS LIKE A GOLF, AND THAT’S A STRENGTH

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

THERE is more to the new Volk­swa­gen Golf than a fresh face. The car called Golf 6 must also lay a new foun­da­tion for the brand as both a sales leader and the me­chan­i­cal plat­form for the next gen­er­a­tion of Ger­man com­pact mod­els, in­clud­ing the Jetta, EOS and cars with Seat and Skoda badges. And it will also have to en­sure Volk­swa­gen can cut the costs and com­pli­ca­tions for its mass-mar­ket car af­ter con­tin­u­ing ques­tions about the prof­itabil­ity of those cur­rently ap­pear­ing in show­rooms. The new Golf looks much the same as the ex­ist­ing car, but will be built only in Ger­many. VW will end to­day’s satel­lite as­sem­bly in South Africa to feed coun­tries such as Aus­tralia. ‘‘They have changed a lot of things in de­sign­ing the car. They are af­ter the right so­lu­tions,’’ Volk­swa­gen Group Aus­tralia boss Jutta Dierks says. But the ba­sics are the same: a hatch­back body, four-cylin­der en­gine and a shape that in­stantly sig­nals the ar­rival of a Golf. ‘‘It looks like a Golf, and that’s a strength. We sell mil­lions of th­ese cars, and have done for 30 years, so that is ob­vi­ously how peo­ple ex­pect a Golf should look,’’ Dierks says. The preview pic­tures of the Golf 6 were re­leased as Volk­swa­gen starts count­ing down to its first pub­lic ap­pear­ance at the Paris Mo­tor Show in Oc­to­ber. Sales in Aus­tralia will not be­gin un­til the mid­dle of next year. ‘‘This car is 2009 for us. And we are only half­way through 2008,’’ Dierks says. ‘‘Even though the new Golf is around the cor­ner, we still do re­ally good busi­ness with the cur­rent car. And it’s get­ting bet­ter for us ev­ery year.’’ The sixth gen­er­a­tion of the Golf con­tin­ues a story that be­gan 34 years and more than 26 mil­lion cars af­ter the orig­i­nal went on sale in the early 1970s. Volk­swa­gen claims it is ‘‘the safest, most tech­ni­cally ad­vanced and most dy­namic it­er­a­tion yet’’ while also promis­ing ‘‘to set bench­marks in qual­ity, style, safety and the re­duc­tion of emis­sions’’. There is also a big prom­ise on in­creased value for cus­tomers. The ac­tual shape is fairly con­ser­va­tive, and still clearly linked to the cur­rent Golf. ‘‘It is more ac­cen­tu­ated than its pre­de­ces­sor with pre­cisely de­fined lines and edges and with finely pro­por­tioned flared sur­faces and re­cesses,’’ Volk­swa­gen de­sign chief Wal­ter de Silva says. The body is claimed to be qui­eter with a new de­sign of door and win­dow seals, a new damp­ing film that sup­ports the wind­screen and a new en­gine-mount­ing sys­tem. Inside there is more em­pha­sis on qual­ity, such as an Audi-style push for im­proved ma­te­ri­als and a change from blue to white for the in­stru­ment light­ing, The en­gines are a pre­dictable com­bi­na­tion of petrol and diesel mo­tors (the line-up for Aus­tralia will not be set for at least six months), and come with claims of im­proved per­for­mance and emis­sions. The safety pack­age runs to seven airbags, in­clud­ing one for the driver’s knees, and an anti-whiplash head re­straint. Op­tional equip­ment on Golf 6 will in­clude Volk­swa­gen’s hi-tech Adap­tive Chas­sis Con­trol and the Au­to­matic Dis­tance Con­trol, which mon­i­tors the area around the car and can brake the car to a stop to avoid a haz­ard.

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