VW Shows Off Golf VI

September 8, 2008
Whew! We are breathless and almost misty-eyed after reading VW's release for its new Generation VI Golf (Rabbit in the U.S.). With claims like "this style icon defies all automotive and social class distinctions," and touting its long-running compact as a "phenomenon" since day one, we began to wonder if it could single-handedly end global warming, fix the U.S. economy, and end turmoil in the Middle East. Can we Vote Golf this fall?

In all seriousness, the Golf is a big deal for VW, and it has jauntily and efficiently been ferrying the not-so-rich and the rich, in countries the world over, since 1974. Gen VI gets even jauntier and more efficient, employing all sorts of VW/Audi goodness, technological trickery, and styling updates that keep this compact a cut above the class in which it competes. The car debuts in Europe this fall and then in Africa, Asia, Australia, and North America (presumably as the Rabbit) in order of appearance.

Big news for gadget nuts is ACC Automatic Distance Control, the radar-based adaptive cruise control that's been springing up in luxury cars like Mercedes and BMW. Optional DCC Adaptive Chassis control sounds, to us, like Audi's Drive Select but without the variable steering ratio. Park assist, a surprising option, makes Golf join ranks with cars like Lexus' LS460 that can parallel park themselves, and an upgraded stability control (ESP) is also included in this new generation.

The torque converter is gone from the lineup, as the excellent VW/Audi six-speed DSG gearbox, joined by a seven-speed for some engines, is now the only self-shifting transmission offered (calling the DSG an "automatic" is an injustice). For the North American market, presumably, the 2.0 TDI Clean Diesel, found in the new Jetta TDI, will be offered. European models get a novel twincharger (super- and turbocharged) 1.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine, but it is unknown whether VW will offer that powertrain in North America. It might be a smart idea given that powertrain's remarkably low fuel consumption and surprising (for its size) performance.--Colin Mathews

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