Having just hit dealerships, Volkswagen is already working on the replacement of the MkVI Golf which is set for 2012, two years in advance. Although the styling of the replacement is evolutionary in keeping with the tradition of VW, it is however under the skin that the model intends to break new ground, setting the path for the cars of the future for other carmakers to follow.
There are reports suggesting that the MkVII will significantly differ from its predecessor that it is comparable to Ford's giant leap from the Escort to the Focus a decade ago. Resisting the tendency for ever0increasing dimensions and curb weights, the new model will depend on a smaller platform in contrast to the current one, with numerous components borrowed from the impending Polo.
Lightweight body panels will be utilized to reduce weight and maintain performance with smaller-capacity forced-induction powerplants, with diesel versions expected to make up an even bigger part of the sales in contrast to the present.
Intended to be offered across the range is Volkswagen's highly efficient twin-clutch DSG gearbox, and with advances in its resilience mean high-powered variants like the GTI will for the first time take advantage of 7-ratios instead of six.
It is, however, not only typical engineering that will make the Golf the greenest car of its class, but the hatch is ready to become a hybrid.
The Twin Drive technology, which has been in prototype form in 2008 will go into full production simultaneous with the introduction of the MkVII. The car will come with an economical 1.5-liter diesel engine combined with three compact electric motors. The plug-in drivetrain can function exclusively on battery power below 31mph for about 30 miles. In excess of that speed, it works together with the diesel unit, and totally takes over in highway speeds.
This results in a remarkable 113mpg. Currently, VW is also working on an HCCI powerplant, a gasoline unit that behaves like a diesel. Since there are no spark plugs, it combines the fuel economy of a diesel with the cleaner emissions and free-revving characteristics of a gasoline engine. And since HCCI units operate more efficiently at constant engine speed, there are plans in employing it to extend the effective range on a plug-in hybrid powertrain.