Carbon fiber used to be reserved exclusively for high-end performance cars, but Volkswagen is taking it mainstream in an effort to make the seventh-generation Golf as light as possible.
The German carmaker told Edmunds that it will offer a carbon fiber roof as an option on future Golf performance models.
The roof will save 18 to 20 pounds, and that weight savings will improve both performance and fuel economy. Removing weight from the top of the car will also lower its center of gravity, improving handling.
Volkswagen still needs to design waterproof joints to attach the roof to the Golf’s body and windshield, Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Volkswagen’s head of research and development, told Edmunds.
The carbon fiber roof shows just how serious Volkswagen is about saving weight; it’s tried nearly every other trick on the new Golf. It is up to 220 pounds lighter than a 2013 Golf, thanks to a chassis made of 80-percent high-strength steel, and an overall lightening of everything from the air conditioner to the seats.
Volkswagen didn’t say when its carbon fiber toupee would go on sale, or which Golf models will get it. It could be part of a rumored carbon fiber bodywork package for the GTI, or it might be offered on a more expensive model like the Golf R.
Either way, the availability of carbon fiber on the Golf could be a sign that the coveted lightweight material is finally going mainstream.
When BMW launched the M6 (E63) in 2005, its carbon fiber roof was the definition of exotic. The fact that Volkswagen is now ready to use the same material on the humble Golf shows just how far carbon fiber technology has come in a relatively short time.