Volkswagen AG has started producing the new Golf cabriolet at a former Karmann plant, which VW bought in 2010, in Osnabrueck, Germany. VW said the plant can also be an overflow facility for making the Porsche brand Boxster and Cayman models. Osnabrueck is now the sixth production facility for VW in the German state of Lower Saxony.
The state has a 20 percent stake in VW. The carmaker has invested about EUR300 million ($424 million) in the facility, which covers the entire automotive process chain from vehicle development through tooling to production and will produce 100,000 vehicles annually.
Currently, the plant employs around 1,250 workers building the Golf convertible; however, VW says that this will rise to 1,800 by the end of 2011. CEO Martin Winterkorn said the Osnabrueck team has successfully managed the Golf cabriolet start-up within one year.
VW took over Karmann's Osnabrück production plant after the coachbuilder and convertible rooftop specialist filed for bankruptcy in April 2010 when a trend among automakers to reduce outsourcing the assembly of entire models resulted to the dwindling of new orders.
VW is most famous for building the Karmann Ghia, which is a Beetle-based coupe.
The new Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet, just like the other previous 680,000 plus VW Golf Cabriolet units built, has a classic soft top that is made of fabric. Some may ask why fabric is used instead of steel (like on the Eos). At a glance, the new model is clearly compact with a length of 4,246 mm. On the other hand, the Eos measures 4,423 mm long. Both vehicles have different approaches in terms of cabriolet design, styling and positioning.
Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet’s Top
Even if Volkswagen Golf has a fabric top, this 4-seater is among the quietest cabriolets. It delivers a comforting quite ride that can be attributed to the fabric roof’s sophisticated design plus the new seals on the windows and doors. Wind noises with a high frequency range of more than 5,000 Hz can be annoying, making it difficult to keep a conversation when driving (articulation index). When Volkswagen thoroughly inspected this articulation index and assessed experiences in other vehicles, this resulted to confirming that the Golf Cabriolet, in fact, sets new acoustic standards in cabriolets.
The soft top includes a roofliner, linkage, insulating filler layer all over and an exterior cover. With daily practicality as a motivation, the development team designed the longitudinal seam joints of the exterior cover (panels on center and sides) in such a way that they can be used as an extra drip rail. Furthermore, aerodynamics is impressive. It has four roof cross bows and the front roof bow (first large transverse component at the back of the windscreen frame) is mounted between the top linkage’s longitudinal frames. The soft top is then united with the roof bows by means of fabric retention strips fastened with screws. Thus, the fabric roof does not get filled with air even at high speeds, having a positive effect on aerodynamics.
Whenever the roof is put away, the front roof bow’s upper surface covers the top surface of the storage box, eliminating the need for another cover. As a result, the standard electro hydraulic, fully automatic top opens and closes faster, in 9 seconds and 11 seconds respectively. Also, it does not have to go down too deep to occupy a large bootspace (250 liters whether roof is up or down).
The center console has a central switch from which the top is operated. The top can be opened or closed even when driving at a maximum speed of 30 km/h. A central switch activates two hydraulic pumps that generate the pressure needed. Special care was also given in this area to make sure that only the least possible noise is made like for instance, surrounding the hydraulic unit with insulation.
An electromechanical locking system latches and unlatches the soft top of the Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet. It has a fully automatic operation, meaning there is no need for any manual latching or unlatching. By means of two micro-switches, the system senses if the roof is fully opened or closed and informs the driver of the OK status via an acoustic signal as well as a visual message in the multifunctional display.
To guarantee a good view towards the back of the car, the heated rear glass window of the top was made particularly large for a cabriolet, which is attached to the soft top with the help of high-frequency welding.
Protection in the Golf Cabriolet
Rollover protection: Ever since the first Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet was introduced in 1979, every generation of this model series had included a roll bar. This was made so because during the Golf Cabrio’s early years, the automatic deploying of rollover protection systems had not yet existed. When such systems first appeared by the end of the 80s, they did not fit affordable cars like the Golf Cabriolet. However, in 2003, this changed when Volkswagen introduced the New Beetle Cabriolet that was incorporated with rollover protection, which could be deployed from the back of the rear seats. The system, which was revised for the Eos and which was based on the latest development stage, also protects the passengers of the Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet.