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Volkswagen Golf

Golf VI

Volkswagen logo1 Feb 2009

Volkswagen's sixth-generation Golf may look very similar to the outgoing model, but new drivetrains, improved refinement, more features, and increased safety mean that the premium small-car stalwart continues to evolve after 35 years (33 in Australia) and 26 million-plus sales worldwide.

Certainly, the leap forward is smaller than the clean-sheet redesign experienced from Golf ‘4’ (1998) to ‘5’ (2004), as Volkswagen has worked hard to make it more efficient (read: cheaper) to build as well as to run.

Leading the charge, quite literally, is a wholesale move to forced-induction systems across the petrol engine range, while all-new turbo-diesel engines have also been rolled out.

A new-generation Golf GTI is scheduled for 2010.

The roof carries over from before, for instance, and the overall proportions are pretty much identical, with the model’s signature two-box shape, wide C-pillar, and large headlights enclosing a horizontal grille.

However, no other body panel is shared between old and new, as Volkswagen has worked diligently on the details to create a Golf that looks longer, lower, wider and cleaner than before, with ‘more precisely defined lines and edges.’Golf occupants are also likely to notice the palpably higher-quality materials, swathing a completely redesigned dashboard and other cabin architecture, while the slightly deeper side windows afforded by the ‘more 3D’ shoulder line is a result of market research calling for better rear-seat vision for smaller children.

Cabin space levels remain the same, with the overall length, width, height and wheelbase measurements coming in at 4199, 1785,1479 and 2574mm respectively. Luggage volume varies from 350 litres with all seats upright to 1305L with them folded down.

Aiding interior space is the Golf’s front-wheel drive layout, complete with a choice of several transverse-mounted EU IV emissions-rated four-cylinder engines, although for the first time ever no conventional torque-converter automatic gearbox is offered.

Instead, along with the standard six-speed manual, there is the option of a DSG dual-clutch transmission in either six or seven-speed guises.

The entry-level model is the 90TSI Trendline, powered by a turbo-charged 1390cc 1.4-litre direct-injection petrol four-cylinder engine producing 90kW of power from 5000 to 5500rpm, and 200Nm of torque between 1500 and 4000rpm. Its DSG is an all-new seven-speeder with a dual dry clutch and all-synchro set-up.

Replacing Volkswagen’s venerable 75kW/148Nm 1.6-litre petrol engine that was offered in five-speed manual and six-speed Tiptronic automatic, the 90TSI is 15 per cent more powerful and up to 25 per cent more economical.

Its official 0-100km/h-sprint time, fuel consumption, and carbon dioxide emissions figures are 9.5 seconds, 6.4 litres per 100km for the manual (7DSG: 6.2) and 143 grams per kilometre of CO2 (7DSG: 143g/km) respectively.

On the flipside, 98 RON ultra-premium unleaded petrol is necessary to achieve these results, although the 90TSI and its more powerful 118TSI sister can also run on 95 RON premium unleaded petrol.

Forget using 91 RON regular unleaded petrol in these cars.

Stepping up to the 118TSI Comfortline still nets you the 1390cc 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine, but this time there is a Roots type supercharger fitted to up the power and torque ante to 118kW at 5900rpm and 240Nm from 1750 to 4500rpm.

In either six-speed manual or 7DSG mode, acceleration slides to 8.0 seconds flat. The combined fuel consumption average edges up to 6.2L/100km (7DSG: 6.4), while the CO2 output rises to 150g/km (7DSG: 144). Nevertheless, economy improves nearly 25 per cent here compared to the 110kW/200Nm 2.0 FSI four-cylinder petrol engine in the old Golf.

However, as around half of the buyers of that model preferred the diesel, the new 2.0-litre direct-injection common rail four-cylinder TDI with DPF diesel particulate filter and twin balancer shafts is big news, particularly as it is now significantly quieter and more efficient.

Dubbed 103TDI and still espousing 1968cc, it delivers 103kW at 4200rpm and 320Nm between 1750 and 2500rpm, to help propel the Golf from standstill to 100km/h in 9.3s regardless of whether it is a six-speed manual or six-speed DSG (the 7DSG has a maximum torque rating of only 250Nm – 100Nm down on the older 6DSG).

The combined fuel consumption figures of 5.3 and 5.6 for the 6DSG equates to a seven and eight per cent fall respectively, while the CO2 figures are also much lower than before at between 139 and 147g/km.

As with the old Golf, a MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension system is employed, albeit extensively modified for this application.

Steering is via an electro-mechanical power-assisted rack and pinion design, while the brakes are made up of ventilated discs up front and a solid pair in the rear.

As part of a class-leading level of active and passive safety, the five-star Euro and Australian NCAP-rated Golf ‘6’ comes standard with ABS anti-lock brakes with EBD Electronic Brake-force Distribution, and BA Brake Assist, while there is also are revised ESP Electronic Stability program and ASR traction control systems.

There are now seven airbags included in all models, with a knee airbag joining in, while anti-whiplash head restraints join the Golf club.

Equipment levels on the base 90TSI Trendline include all of the safety gear above, as well as semi-climate control air-conditioning, remote central locking, power windows, daytime running lights, a multi-function trip computer display, and a driver’s seat height adjuster.

Unlike the previous Golf, which was predominantly sourced from South Africa, all of the new versions are assembled at Wolfsburg and Model, in Germany.

In late 2009 the iconic GTI joined the Mk6 range, with no price rise.

This is despite a boost in power, a drop in fuel consumption, improved safety, fewer emissions and more standard features.

The latter includes the addition of an electronic transverse differential lock – dubbed XDL – that significantly improves traction and handling by working with the stability and traction controls to help counteract understeer.

Also new as an option on the GTI is a variation of the ACC Adaptive Chassis Control system as found on other Mk6 Golfs, bringing electronically controlled dampers. As before, the popular DSG dual-clutch transmission remains a $2500 option in lieu of the standard six-speed manual gearbox, while choosing two extra doors still adds $1500 to the total.

In contrast to the South African-built outgoing model, the GTI is made in Germany, like the rest of the Mk6 range.

Like the other Mk6 Golfs, the GTI is essentially a reskinned Mk5 model, with a body boasting a fresh nose treatment that is meant to recall the first Mk1 Golf GTI (1976 to 1983) that was never sold in Australia.

This is most evident in the red grille surround, but the general horizontal front-end treatment also aims to mimic the Giorgio Giugiaro-penned original. It is the most radical departure from the GTI’s immediate predecessor’s distinctive ‘goatee’ single-frame grille design.

Everywhere else, however, the story is one of evolution rather than revolution.

Driving the front wheels, the engine is a revised, EA888-series, turbocharged, Euro V-emissions compliant, 1984cc 2.0-litre twin-cam 16-valve four-cylinder petrol TSI unit featuring modifications to the pistons and piston rings, oil pump, induction system and fuel pump.

Power rises slightly, from the old GTI’s 147kW to 155kW between 5300 and 6200rpm, while torque remains the same at 280Nm (between 1700 and 5200rpm) for a 0-100km/h sprint-time of 6.9 seconds – identical to the Mk5 GTI DSG but a 0.6s improvement compared to the old manual.

Volkswagen says in-gear acceleration times have been cut significantly, partly due to a more efficient exhaust system that results in less back pressure. Top speed is 238km/h (DSG: 240km/h).

The DSG is a development of the wet clutch unit, with one clutch controlling the odd gears and reverse while the other looks after the even gears. These are controlled via either a floor or a paddle shifter.

Fuel consumption – now on 95 RON premium unleaded instead of expensive 98 RON – and carbon dioxide emissions are now rated at 7.7 litres per 100km (DSG: 7.66) and 180 grams per kilometre (DSG: 178) respectively, with the former being about 0.5L/100km better than before while the latter is an improvement of around 14g/km.

Kerb weight remains the same at about 1360kg.

The aforementioned ACC Adaptive Chassis Control has three settings – normal, comfort and sport, and is activated via a console-mounted button.

Compared to regular Golfs, the GTI’s chassis includes front strut suspension that is lowered by 22mm, while the multi-link independent rear suspension’s ride height is 15mm lower.

Unique springs, dampers and anti-roll bars are employed, along with different sized wheel tracks compared to more garden variety Mk6 Golfs. At 1533mm, the GTI’s front track is actually 7mm narrower but the 1514mm rear track is just 1mm wider.

In late 2009 the most economical VW on sale joined the Mk6 range in the form of the 77TDI.

Its 1598cc 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel with common rail and particulate filter technology is closely related to the 103TDI 2.0-litre model already found in other Golf 6s.

Producing 77kW of power at 4400rpm and 250Nm of toque from 1500 to 2500rpm, the 77TDI delivers drive to the front wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox.

Customers can also fork out another $2500 for the seven-speed DSG dual-clutch gearbox, which is the same wet-clutch system as found in the Golf 1.4 TSI models.

In February 2010, VW joined the premium compact wagon segment with a Golf station wagon, with trim variants similar to those of the hatch line-up but not including the Comfortline manual, GTI/GTD or R models.

The Golf Wagon uses the Jetta sedan platform rather than the hatch’s underpinnings. While all three are closely related, the rear section of the Jetta and Golf wagon are different to the (shorter) hatch. The wagon adds between 70kg and 160kg over the hatch models, and is 432mm longer than the hatch.

With the cargo net is installed and cargo loaded up to the height of the top of the rear bench seatback, the Wagon provided up to 690 litres of load volume, raising to 1495 litres with the rear bench seat folded down.

With the rear bench folded, the continuous flat cargo area of the Golf Wagon up to the driver’s backrest measured 1.7 metres. Bins offered storage space under the cargo floor and in the side panelling. Even when the standard factory-installed asymmetrically split bench was not lowered, a respectable 1.07 meters of cargo length was still available. Maximum width was 1.29 metres, while the interior width between wheel wells was 1.01 metres.

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