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Paris show: VW Golf GTI unmasked

Iconic: Volkswagen has retained the tried-and-true design from Golf GTIs of yesteryear with its Mk7-based concept, but added a brand new power boost option.

Volkswagen previews more potent next-gen GTI with thinly-disguised concept in Paris

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Volkswagen logo28 Sep 2012

By MIKE COSTELLO

VOLKSWAGEN’S all-new, seventh-generation Golf GTI will be offered in two different states of engine tune for the first time in its four-decade history when it hits Europe early next year.

The larger, lighter and more powerful next-generation model was previewed at the Paris motor show this week by a production-ready three-door concept, revealed just hours after images leaked online.

Volkswagen insists on calling this car a ‘production-based study’, but has made it clear the eventual production version will be almost identical both outside and in.

As expected, power comes from the Audi A3’s 162kW/350Nm turbocharged 2.0-litre engine – up 5kW and a massive 70Nm on the current Mk6 GTI – that reduces the 0-100km/h sprint time by 0.3 seconds to 6.6s.

However, the big news it the optional performance package, which brings power output up to 169kW – cutting a further 0.1s from the standing sprint time – plus larger brakes and a new front differential lock that counters understeer.

Power is sent through the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox or VW’s latest six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic.

The sprint time won’t be the only thing reduced, with fuel consumption down to 6.0 litres per 100km – 18 per cent less than the current sixth-generation GTI – thanks to fuel-saving technology like idle-stop.

Like the garden-variety Golf – also making a global public debut in Paris – the GTI version will be based on the innovative MQB modular platform shared with the Audi A3 and other future products from Volkswagen Group.

The high-strength, lightweight platform is partially responsible for a weight reduction across the entire Golf range of up to 100kg.

All GTI models get a clever new electric steering system that uses a progressive gear ratio to reduces steering work – making it more manoeuvrable around town and sharper in the bends thanks to its more direct layout.

The interior shot reveals the old mechanical parking brake has been ditched in favour of a space-saving, switch-operated electric unit – meaning no more handbrake turns.

The concept features familiar GTI design touches including red brake callipers and red striping on the honeycomb grille (a staple since the 1976 original) plus black and silver alloy wheels – now five-spoke items rather than the rounded numbers found on the current model and its MkV predecessor.

Twin 80mm chrome-tipped tailpipes, a modest roof spoiler with an integrated brake light and a black diffuser completes the look at the rear.

Interior shots of the concept indicate Volkswagen will retain its signature ‘jacky’ black, white and red tartan seat trim, flat-bottomed steering wheel, chronograph dials and red-stitched steering wheel.

The GTI was one of two concept vehicles based on the seventh-generation Golf on display in Paris, alongside the third-generation BlueMotion.

With fuel consumption of just 3.2 litres per 100km, the 1.6-litre diesel-powered BlueMotion will take the mantle of most frugal Golf ever when it goes on sale in Europe in the middle of 2013.

With CO2 emissions of just 85 grams per 100km – achieved via a host of green technology like low-resistance tyres, longer gear ratios and a lighter kerb weight than the Mk6 – the Golf also undercuts the petrol-electric Toyota Prius yardstick by 4g/km.

As with the GTI, the BlueMotion is likely to join the Golf range in Australia several months after the regular model line-up hits the market in the middle of 2013.

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