1 Aug 2004
By CHRIS HARRIS
Volkswagen – stung by criticism of the previous Golf’s poor dynamic abilities next to the much-lauded (and top-selling) Ford Focus – decided to dump the model’s traditional torsion beam rear suspension for a multi-link set-up that is suspiciously close to its rival.
The upshot of this – along with a larger, stronger and more refined body, sharper steering, significantly improved refinement, safety (ENCAP five-star rating) and strength and virtually all-new engines – is a better driving Golf.
The first iterations we see are all five-door hatchbacks, in base Trendline, Sportline and Comfortline guises, along with two petrol (75kW/148kW 1.6-litre SOHC 16V 110kW/200Nm 2.0 DOHC 16V FSI) and two diesel (77kW/250Nm 1.9 SOHC 8V TDI turbo-diesel 103kW/320Nm 2.0 DOHC 16V TDI) four-cylinder engines.
The former employ a six-speed manual or six-speed Tiptronic style automatic, while the diesels ditch the conventional auto for VW’s six-speed dual-clutch DSG sequential manual gearbox, along with a six-speed manual.
Best of all it comes in at less than its predecessor. So while the dynamics are revolutionary for a Golf, the evolutionary bits are sure to appeal to its vast legion of followers.
The GTI finally returned in May 2005, boasting a potent turbo-charged 2.0-litre TFSI four-cylinder engine producing 147kW and 280Nm.
Waiting lists soon extended to almost a year, with the six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic accounting for a lion’s share of the five-door hatchback’s sales.
In July 2006, VW unleashed an even more potent hot hatch, the Golf R32.
At its heart is a narrow-angled 3.2-litre V6, which develops 184kW at 6300rpm and 320Nm from 2500rpm.
This endows the car with a claimed zero to 100km/h time of 6.5 seconds (6.2 DSG) and a top speed limited to 250km/h. Combined fuel economy is 10.8L/100km for the six-speed manual and 9.8L/100km for the DSG.
Like the previous R32 sold in Australia in 2004, the Golf V version is mated to VW’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system, but the latest model uses a fast-acting electronically controlled Haldex coupling.
Visually the R32 continues the high-performance theme of the old car with twin centre-mounted exhausts, hip hugging sports seats and a bodykit comprising a deep grille and bumpers with a rear spoiler.
In May 2007 Volkwagen introduced a new five-door Golf GT TSI variant powered by a revolutionary new petrol engine that is both supercharged and turbocharged to produce sportscar performance combined with mini-car fuel economy.
Unlike most new technology that arrives via upper-end luxury models, the new twin-charge Volkswagen is available at an affordable $34,990 – just $2000 more than a regular 2.0-litre Golf FSI and some $5000 cheaper than the five-door Golf GTI 2.0-litre turbo.
With a capacity of just 1.4 litres, the new TSI (Twincharger Stratified Injection) engine develops some 125kW of power and an astonishing 240Nm of torque, running on premium-unleaded petrol.
It has the sort of performance you might expect from an engine with twice its capacity while returning average fuel consumption of only 7.7L/100km. And it already meets EuroV emission standards.
With the standard six-speed manual gearbox fitted, the Golf GT TSI accelerates from 0-100km/h in a claimed 7.9 seconds. With the optional ($2300) six-speed DSG self-shifter, that time comes down to 7.7 seconds.