9 March 2009
Golf is one of the world’s longest-established and best known
car nameplates. First released in 1974 the small-to-medium
hatchback is the third highest selling car of all time with
production in excess of 26 million units.
The latest, sixth generation, Golf hatchback has been released in
Australia with some moderate styling changes compared to the Golf
5 on which it is based, and a choice of three economical engines,
all of which are rated at 6.5 litres per 100 kilometres or better
when measured to official Australian fuel consumption standards.
in these tough economic times Volkswagen has been able to avoid
price increases by reducing the production cost of the new Golf,
which continues to be built at the company’s huge Wolfsburg
factory in Germany.
Australia took the unusual step of displaying all six versions of
the Golf at its recent local launch of the latest model at Byron
Bay, partly to emphasise the car’s 35-year heritage but also to
show the characteristic design elements that have carried through
from the mid-seventies to the late-noughties.
The outgoing Golf 5 had a taller, squarer appearance than previous
models and Volkswagen has returned to its roots with the exterior
styling of Golf 6 having a lower, sleeker appearance than its
predecessor. A very clever piece of design work, because it’s
actually marginally shorter and exactly the same height as before.
The car’s shoulder line is now lower for improved visibility for
rear-seat passengers, with a more distinct creaseline along the
shoulder. The front grille is now slimmer and wider, extending all
the way to the new-design headlights.
Inside, the sleeker styling has been continued. Despite the cost
savings there’s plenty of quality both in design and materials
used with impressively low levels of noise and vibration. The Golf
6 is a definite step up from the superseded Golf 5 in this
Interior space remains excellent for a car in this class and
there’s good headroom both front and rear. It is a genuine five-seater
although as is usually the case, four adults and a child, all in
lap-sash safety belts, would be a more sensible load. There’s
plenty of well-shaped, easily-accessible boot space.
Three of the six available Golf engines have been brought to
Australia, two petrol and one diesel.
The former are both variants of Volkswagen’s award-winning
1.4-litre TSI engine that made such an impressive debut in the
fifth generation Golf GT. The 90TSI is turbocharged and comes with
90 kilowatts of power and 200 Newton metres of torque from 1500 to
4000 rpm. The 118TSI adds a supercharger and has 118 kW and 240 Nm
from 1750 to 4500 revs.
The Golf 103TDI carries over the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel used in
the Golf 5.
The turbocharged and supercharged engine (known as Twincharger) is
a fascinating piece of machinery. There’s no turbo lag because
the supercharger pushes extra air into the engine at low revs with
the turbocharger kicking in at mid-to-high revs. Both chargers
operate together in mid range. When cruising the engine operates
without using either the supercharger or turbocharger.
Another milestone in Golf 6 is that there are no longer any
traditional automatic transmissions on offer, all three models
coming with Volkswagen’s DSG twin-clutch automated manual
gearbox. The two petrol models get seven forward gears and the
turbo-diesel six. Six-speed manual gearboxes are available across
the road it’s hard to believe that there’s just 1390 cc under
the bonnet of the two petrol-powered Golfs. We’ve driven
2.0-litre naturally-aspirated cars with less zip and higher fuel
consumption. It’s quick off the mark and even in hilly terrain
was never short of power and torque. Being a petrol engine it’s
quieter and smoother than a turbo-diesel, yet uses similar amounts
Handling is precise and there’s a nice sporty feel to the
steering and suspension.
New Golf is a most impressive car and very much one for the
future. While its styling isn’t likely to turn many heads its
combination of performance and economy is likely to attract more
and more buyers as fuel prices rise again.
The complete Volkswagen Golf 6 range, with prices (excluding
on-road costs) is:
90TSI Trendline 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol: $25,990 (manual),
118TSI Comfortline 1.4-litre twincharged petrol: $30,490 (manual),
103TDI Comfortline 2.0-litre turbo-diesel: $33,190 (manual),
Marque Publishing Company