Volkswagen unveiled the seventh generation (Mk7 to VW fans) version of its bestselling Golf hatchback in Berlin today. The 2014 Golf is the product of a clean sheet redesign; everything from the engines to the car’s MQB platform is brand new.
Underneath the evolutionary styling, the new Golf is 2.2 inches longer than the 2013 Golf Mk6, and it sports a longer, 103.8-inch wheelbase. In addition to the obvious benefits this brings to interior volume, Volkswagen says the new body moves the front wheels forward, which gives the Golf a sportier look and improved crash-worthiness.
The stretched wheelbase means passengers will have more room to stretch out, especially in back. Rear seat legroom grows by 0.6 inch, and front and rear shoulder room is up 1.2 inches. VW reportedly moved the driver’s seat, shifter, and pedals to make things more comfortable in front as well.
The 2014 Golf has grown, but Volkswagen was adamant about keeping weight down. The company says the new Golf is up to 220 pounds lighter than a 2013, thanks to a thorough diet. The body-in-white is 51 pounds lighter, because it is made of 80 percent high-strength steel. Even items like the air conditioner and seats were part of the weight saving program.
Volkswagen hopes shedding weight will improve the Golf’s fuel economy. The EPA has not tested the 2014 Golf, but VW noted that European models with a new turbocharged 1.4-liter engine and cylinder deactivation returned 49 mpg on the European cycle, while TDI diesels were rated at 62 mpg. The current Golf TDI is rated at 34 mpg in the EPA combined cycle.
The gasoline-powered 1.4-liter engine produces 140 horsepower, 30 less than the base 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine in the current Golf, while the diesel produces 105 hp; the current 2.0-liter diesel produces 140 hp. Volkswagen may not offer the same engines in the United States, though. In particular, the gasoline engine’s cylinder deactivation might be too pricey an option for American compact car buyers.
Americans still want their small cars to be, more than anything else, cheap, so U.S.-spec Golfs may differ significantly from the ones sold in Europe. Early reports suggest that European Golfs will be packed with technology, including adaptive suspension, adjustable electronic power steering, and an automated emergency braking system that can stop the car from 20 mph. However, it is unclear whether these features will make it to the States.
The seventh generation Golf will go on sale in the United States in early 2013. Expect more information on pricing and equipment closer to the launch date.