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Geneva show: VW revives Golf Cabriolet

Top off: VW will reintroduce the Golf cabriolet at Geneva, for Australian release later this year.

Golf Cabrio will be the last of 11 new Volkswagen models for Oz in 2011

Volkswagen logo24 Feb 2011

By MARTON PETTENDY

VOLKSWAGEN has come clean on its plan to reintroduce the Golf Cabriolet for the first time in more than eight years by revealing a drop-top version of the latest Mk6 Golf hatch.

Confirmed to make its global debut at the Geneva motor show next week, the new-generation Golf soft-top will be among the last of 11 new or facelifted Volkswagen Group models to be released in Australia this year when it goes on sale in late 2011.

The German giant’s all-new Golf cabrio features a folding soft-top that is claimed to open in just 9.5 seconds and can be operated when driving at up to 30km/h, as well as a boot that offers 250 litres of luggage space even when the roof is stowed.

Featuring front-end styling straight out of the latest Mk6 Golf hatchback’s copybook, the born-again two-door Golf Cabriolet scores a more steeply raked windscreen, LED tail-lights from the Golf GTI, a unique bootlid and a chromed highlight strip that extends around the cabin from the base of the A-pillars.

The Australian line-up is yet to be announced but in Europe will comprise six direct-injection engine choices, including 77kW 1.2-litre, 90kW and 118kW 1.4-litre and 155kW 2.0-litre forced-induction TSI four-cylinder petrol engines from the Golf, which will also donate 77kW 1.6-litre and 103kW 2.0-litre TDI four-cylinder turbo-diesel engines.

Volkswagen says three engines will come with fuel-saving BlueMotion technologies, with the 1.6 TDI claimed to return fuel consumption of just 4.4L/100km and CO2 emissions of 117g/km.

3 center imageSix- and seven-speed dual-clutch DSG automatic transmissions will be available in Europe alongside five- and six-speed manual transmissions.

Three model grades – S, SE and GT – will be available in the UK, where the four-seater Golf Cabriolet opens for orders before first deliveries start in September.

In Australia, however – as in Germany, where the car went on sale this week – only a single trim level is likely to be offered with a range of packaged or stand-alone options, such as bi-Xenon headlights.

Standard equipment should include front, head/thorax and driver’s knee airbags, electronic stability control, ABS brakes, 16-inch alloy wheels and Bluetooth connectivity.

The new Golf Cabriolet revives a nameplate not seen in Australian VW showrooms since March 2003, when the facelifted Mk3 version was last sold alongside the Mk4 Golf hatchback.

It follows a long line of open-topped Volkswagens, beginning with the first Beetle Cabriolet of 1949 and including the Karmann Ghia (1955), the first Golf Cabriolet (1979), the Golf III Cab (1993), the Golf IV Cab (1998) and the New Beetle Cabriolet.

The latter effectively replaced the topless Golf here in 2003 and was joined by Volkswagen’s first coupe-convertible, the Golf-based Eos, in March 2007. At the time, the Eos’ five-piece folding steel roof comprised a world-first tilting/sliding glass sunroof.

While a successor to the now-discontinued Beetle Cabriolet will follow the second-generation New Beetle due on sale here next year, the Golf Cabriolet should once again be more affordable than the circa-$50,000 Eos and Beetle cabrio.

Like the Golf-based A3 Cabriolet and TT Roadster from VW luxury brand, the new Golf cabrio comes with a fully automatic electro-hydraulic convertible fabric roof that does away with the need for a separate cover when stowed.

However, unlike previous Golf soft-tops, the Mk6-based model does not feature a fixed rollbar but the same “active rollover protection system” comprising pop-up rollover hoops as seen on the Eos and Beetle Cabriolet, as well as other more expensive convertibles.

Volkswagen says the unroofed Golf features a number of structural improvements over the hard-top Golf three-door upon which it is based, including a reinforced windscreen frame, underbody, side panels, cross-members and doors to aid torsional chassis rigidity.

Measuring 4215mm long, 1424mm high and 1779mm high, the newest VW cabrio is lower than the three-door Golf hatch and 208mm shorter than the Eos, despite sharing the latter’s 2578mm wheelbase, which Volkswagen says maximises interior space for all four passengers.

While Mazda recently set a world record by selling 900,000 MX-5 convertibles, Volkswagen says it is one of the world’s most successful producers of convertibles.

Including both the original rear-engined, rear-drive Beetle cabrio and the front-engined, front-drive compact convertibles of more recent years, the company has sold around 1.42 million open-top vehicles.

Another New Beetle hatch and cabrio looms for Australia in 2012, but the reborn Golf Cabriolet will cap a stellar year for Volkswagen Down Under, where Europe’s largest car-maker will introduce a fresh model almost every month.

Hot on the heels of its first Toyota HiLux rival, the dual-cab Amarok ute that was launched this week, Volkswagen Group Australia will release redesigned Passat sedan and wagon models in April, plus a DSG automatic version of Skoda’s Scout crossover.

Volkswagen’s first BlueMotion model, the fuel-sipping Golf, should arrive the following month, before mid-year launches of the second-generation Touareg, new Skoda Yeti compact SUV and facelifted Eos.

First seen at November’s Los Angeles motor show and not to be confused with the revised 2011 model released last October, the MY2012 Eos will reflect the changes the Golf underwent from Mk5 to Mk6 at the end of 2008, offer new features and upgraded engines and come into line with VW’s newest corporate look by doing away with the model’s single-frame grille.

Volkswagen will continue its new-product barrage in the second half of this year by releasing facelifted Tiguan and new Jetta models, as well as Skoda’s long-overdue range-opener, the Fabia.

Combined with the December release of Volkswagen’s new Caddy and the sell-out success of the new Polo GTI since its introduction in November – the same month VGA announced a 25 per cent expansion in staff and dealer numbers and a shift to a larger new headquarters this year – the German brand is this year sure to exceed the sales record it set in 2010.

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