And the 2013 Os­car goes to . . .

Driv­ing the new Golf 7 is like meet­ing Daniel Day-lewis or Meryl Streep, says DAVE MOORE.

Central Otago Mirror - - FEATURES -

Just as Mr Day-Lewis and Ms Streep man­age to do in their fields of en­deav­our, Volk­swa­gen’s Golf ap­pears to trawl-in all the tro­phies in its own au­to­mo­tive theatre. It scooped up the Euro­pean Car of the Year for the sec­ond time just last week, to go with the World car of the Year it won a cou­ple of years ago and along with ev­ery­one else’s au­to­mo­tive, stat­uette, globe or chrome-plated sculp­ture on the way. The car even took that most sen­si­ble of gongs: Top Gear’s ’Most Car You’ll Ever Need’ gong for 2013, while the mo­men­tous tak­ing of this news­pa­per’s Car of the Year gong a few years back still re­sounds in the com­pany’s Wolfs­burg cor­ri­dors. Since the first Golf was launched in 1974, Volk­swa­gen has made and sold more than 29 mil­lion of them through seven gen­er­a­tions and ev­ery gen­er­a­tion has been a fi­nal­ist in the Euro­pean Car of the Year rank­ings. VWnotes that 29 mil­lion own­ers can’t be wrong, but even if you count a few cars out due to nat­u­ral – and un­nat­u­ral – at­tri­tion, the ma­jor­ity of those Golfs also found sec­ond and even third own­ers, so the num­ber of own­ers is prob­a­bly closer to 50 mil­lion. So per­haps so many gongs should not be such a sur­prise, Volk­swa­gen is get­ting quite good at mak­ing fam­ily hatch­backs it seems.

The sim­plest way to de­scribe the new Golf 7 over its very vis­ually sim­i­lar Golf 6 pre­de­ces­sor is that it’s longer, wider, lower, safer, greener, and more fuel-ef­fi­cient. Fa­mil­iar though the new Golf 7 may be, it pro­por­tions have changed in this it­er­a­tion of the car, with a shorter front over­hang and for­ward shifted pas­sen­ger cab, thus there’s an in­crease in in­te­rior space es­pe­cially for rear pas­sen­gers, with more leg, shoul­der and el­bow room. The over­all length is up by 56mm, with the wheel­base mea­sur­ing 59mm more than the Golf 6’s. As you can’t mea­sure or weigh a car in the street or im­me­di­ately as­sess its per­for­mance and func­tion­al­ity, the best way to tell the 7 from the 6 is by way of the sharper-edged lights front and rear, the crisper waist­line and the sub­tle crease that runs from the front wheel arch rear­wards. Viewed from the front, the most ob­vi­ous tell­tale is that the 7 has dis­tinct ridges that run up each side of the bon­net from the in­ner edges of the new wrapround head­lamps and up to the wind­screen base. I should prob­a­bly have added ‘‘cheaper’’ to that list of dif­fer­ences too, as the new Com­fort­line petrol model starts at $32,250, and that model shows absolutely no signs of hav­ing been built down to a price. The Golf 6 start­ing price was $38,500 for the 1.4-litre tur­bocharged 90kW TSi with DSG au­to­matic. The new car starts with a six- speed man­ual with the same 90kW out­put, adding $2500 for the au­to­matic, which still makes it $3750 less ex­pen­sive than the pre­vi­ous car. More markedly, the car is a grand cheaper than the base Corolla, de­spite hav­ing al­loy wheels to the Toy­ota’s steel items. And that’s de­spite the fact that ev­ery diesel and petrol engine in the range gets Volk­swa­gen’s Blue­Mo­tion Tech­nolo­gies with a Stop/Start sys­tem and bat­tery re­gen­er­a­tion mode which con­spire with the car’s im­proved aero­dy­nam­ics and lighter weight to pull down fuel con­sump­tion and emis­sions by up to 19 per cent. Other stan­dard items in­clude a new mul­ti­col­li­sion brake sys­tem, which re­duces the sever­ity of sec­ondary col­li­sions, while there’s an op­tional proac­tive oc­cu­pant pro­tec­tion sys­tem which helps de­tect a po­ten­tial ac­ci­dent sit­u­a­tion and re­act ac­cord­ingly. In­side, the Golfs have a new gen­er­a­tion of ra­dio and ra­dio/ nav­i­ga­tion sys­tems with Blue­tooth con­nec­tiv­ity which all mod­els have the abil­ity to han­dle me­dia stream­ing and phone calls on two de­vices at the same time. But the star of the show is some­thing you can’t see. It’s Volk­swa­gen’s new Mod­u­lar Trans­verse Ma­trix plat­form which short­ens toMQBfrom the orig­i­nal Ger­man ‘‘Mo­du­larer Quer­baukas­ten’’. SoMQBit is, then. With theMQB­plat­form the dis­tance from the front axle to the pedal box re­mains the sole fixed di­men­sion. Ev­ery­thing else is mod­u­lar, ca­pa­ble of be­ing snapped into place al­most like a Lego kit and even­tu­ally as new mod­els come to be, theMQBwill be the base for ev­ery­thing from the Polo to the Pas­sat (and all the coupes, hatches, sedans and peo­ple car­ri­ers as­so­ci­ated with them). MQBmeans thatVWwill have one plat­form where it pre­vi­ously had five. Ev­ery car in theVW­group with a trans­verse front power unit from Audi, Seat and Skoda as well asVWwill have their cost and speed of de­vel­op­ment ben­e­fit from such ra­tio­nal­is­ing. That’s part of the rea­son why the Golf is cheaper than it was be­fore. The other rea­son is that the New Zealand dol­lar is buy­ing a lot more car for you than it did when the pre­vi­ous model was be­ing de­vel­oped. TheMQBwill be used in the group’s Euro­pean, South Amer­i­can, Asian and Chi­nese plants to the tune of more than 3.5 mil­lion units a year within five years, or roughly 35 per cent of VWGroup’s en­tire global sales. For the pur­pose of this test, ‘‘my’’ Golf is the one likely to be most pop­u­lar model in the new lineup. It’s a Com­fort­line 90kW model with DSG au­to­matic, or the model that’s most ac­ces­si­ble to our typ­i­cal two-pedal mar­ket. I have no prob­lem with that. I don’t mind a gear­box as slick and quick at shift­ing as VW’s DSG, be­cause when you wag­gle the lever your­self and dance around on the clutch and throt­tle ped­als, not only do you use more gas, even a wise and ex­pe­ri­enced racedriver couldn’t slam-dunk the shifts as well as the DSG Golf can. There’s an­other so-called High­line 1.4 tur­bocharged petrol Golf avail­able with 103kW on tap and DSG for $5000, which as well as more power adds 17 inch wheels in­stead of the base car’s 16s, park­ing sen­sors, re­vers­ing cam­eras, and satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion. Two tur­bod­iesels are fea­tured: a 90kW 1.6-litre and a 110kW 2.0-litre, again in Com­fort­line and High­line spec­i­fi­ca­tions re­spec­tively, at $37,250 and $43,750. So how does it go? Un­can­nily qui­etly as it hap­pens, with a qual­ity of ride that is al­most ethe­real in its com­po­sure over the usual sur­face im­per­fec­tions, en­hanced per­haps by the fact that the stan­dard Com­fort­line al­loys aren’t low-pro­file sporty items, and of­fer a lot more rub­ber and air be­tween the road and the rim, re­sult­ing in an as­ton­ish­ing lack of raw, hard-edged re­ac­tions even to the zit-like pro­trud­ing man­hole cov­ers and other earth­quakegen­er­ated foibles in Christchurch. For­tu­nately the cosy wheel and tyre com­bi­na­tion still of­fers oo­dles of grip, though it has to be said that their small di­am­e­ter do make the cham­pion hatch look a lit­tle un­der shod. What the heck, if I’m be­hind the wheel, I can’t see what tyres and wheels I have any­way and once the car is mov­ing nei­ther can any­one else.

Volk­swa­gen Golf Seven: The dif­fer­ence be­tween this and ear­lier mod­els vis­ually is in the de­tail.

New ma­te­ri­als: Along with re­designed cabin ar­chi­tec­ture it adds up to a very classy in­te­rior.

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