Next Volkswagen Golf will be lighter and roomier

Volkswagen Golf Mk6The Volkswagen Golf is Europe’s best selling car, and it’s going under the knife. Volkswagen is preparing an all-new Golf (Mk7 to VW fans), which will go into production in September. According to Britain’s Autocar, the new Golf will be larger, but also lighter and safer.

A 2012 Golf (pictured) is 165.9 inches long, 70.3 inches wide, and 58.2 inches tall in five-door guise. The next Golf will grow to 167.5 inches long, 70.8 inches wide, and shrink slightly in height to 57.2 inches.

The changes may seem slight, but VW thinks they will pay dividends in crash protection and interior room. Leg and shoulder room is expected to increase for both front and rear passengers, and the Golf will get a bigger trunk with a wider aperture and floor for easy loading.

According to Autocar, the new Golf will also be significantly lighter. The body is made from a higher percentage of hot-formed ultra high strength steel than the current Golf; VW also used tailored blanks (pieces of steel of varying thicknesses) to shed unnecessary pounds. The new body saves 51 pounds compared to the current Golf.

Volkswagen used a different lightweight metal, aluminum, in the suspension to save an additional 57 pounds. Finally, redesigned electronics and seats save 26 pounds. Base models should weigh around 2,300 pounds overall, compared to a Golf Mk6’s 3,000 pounds and a Ford Focus’ 2,900 pounds.

That lightened interior should be more ergonomic as well. Volkswagen moved the driver’s seat back, raised the shifter, and moved the pedals further apart, which it hopes will make drivers more comfortable. An electronic parking brake makes room for a storage compartment in the center console.

On the safety front, Volkswagen is packing the new Golf with technology. A “multi-collision” brake will automatically trigger the car’s brake booster in a crash, regardless of how much pressure is put on the pedal. The Golf will also get a fully automatic emergency braking system that works up to 20 mph, lane keep assist, fatigue detection, and traffic sign detection.

European Golfs will also get adaptive suspension and adjustable electronic steering with five preprogrammed modes. However, when Americans buy small cars they’re usually more interested in low prices than high-tech features, so these systems may not make it to the U.S.

Ergonomics and safety are very important, but they won’t be important to every Golf buyer. A new Golf means a new version of the original hot hatchback, the GTI. The new GTI will be shown in concept form at the Paris Motor Show on September 27. It will reportedly have a 222 horsepower, 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine from Audi, with turbocharging and direct injection, under the hood. I

It is unclear what engines will power the regular Golf in the U.S.; the current Golf is offered with a 2.5-liter gasoline inline-five or a 2.0-liter turbodiesel.

In the U.S., the Golf has always been overshadowed by its Jetta sedan sibling. The Golf is probably VW’s most important car, though, so it will have big implications for every market.