words - Marton Pettendy
GTI diesel, all-electric and plug-in hybrid versions of Volkswagen's new Golf 7 revealed

Volkswagen has lifted the lid on three super-frugal new variants of its all-new Golf 7 hatchback, which goes on sale in Australia in April, ahead of their simultaneous world debuts at the Geneva motor show in a little over a week.

None have been confirmed for local release, although Volkswagen Group Australia has announced that the Golf GTI – which was revealed at the Paris show last September – will go on sale here in the fourth quarter of this year.

It will join garden-variety versions of the Golf to be launched inside two months, including 1.4-litre turbo-petrol 90TSI and 103TSI variants with six-speed manual and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmissions, and the six-speed DSG-only 2.0-litre turbo-diesel 110TDI.

The two-year Golf 7 hatch rollout, which will again be joined by wagon and cabrio body derivatives, will culminate next year in the new Golf R all-wheel drive hot hatch that may also be seen in Geneva next month.

For now though, Volkswagen has officially only revealed the new Golf GTD ahead of its Swiss debut and its Australian subsidiary says only that it is under consideration for local release.

Given the high proportion of GTI and diesel versions of the current Golf sold in Australia, however, the new GTD is certain to replace the existing model (priced from $39,290) and the first official specifications show it will improve in all key areas, making it both quicker and more efficient than the model it replaces.

On sale in Europe from June, the range-topping diesel Golf is powered by VW’s new EA288 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel instead of its predecessor’s older but architecturally identical EA827 engine, producing 135kW of power between 3500 and 4000rpm and 380Nm of torque from 1750 to 3250rpm - up 10kW and 30Nm over the previous GTD.

With a claimed 0-100km/h acceleration figure of 7.5 seconds (and a 230km/h top speed), the new GTD is officially six-tenths quicker than the model it replaces, yet it’s also 20 per cent more efficient, with claimed combined fuel consumption of just 4.2L/100km. That’s just 0.3L/100km more than a Toyota Prius hybrid, although CO2 emissions of 109g/km remain 20g/km higher than the Prius’.

The front-wheel drive Golf GTD – which weighs 1377kg and is the latest in a long line stretching back to 1982 - will be available in Europe with both six-speed manual and DSG dual-clutch automatic gearboxes, the latter consuming 4.7L/100km and emitting 122g/km – although Europe’s GTD three-door DSG will emit slightly less at 119g/km.

The Mk7 GTD’s 1968cc direct-injection common-rail turbo-diesel transverse four remains a long-stroke design (81.0mm bore, 95.5mm stroke) and runs 15.8:1 compression – down from 16.5:1 for the Mk6 GTD.

In keeping with its position as the sportiest Golf diesel, the GTI is visually differentiated by smoked LED tail-lights, twin chromed exhaust outlets, unique 17-inch wheels with 225/45 tyres, specific side sills, a special rear diffuser, large roof spoiler and firmer sports suspension.

Inside is a toned-down version of the GTI’s trademark red-accented design, including black and white tartan fabric-trimmed seats, a flat-bottom sports steering wheel, steel-faced pedals and a unique GTD gearshifter and instrument dials.

Meantime, more details of both the all-electric e-Golf and petrol-electric Golf plug-in hybrid have surfaced, but Volkswagen Group Australia continues to play down the chances of their release here any time soon due to high cost and low demand.

“Hybrid pricing continues to be a key challenge based on previous experience, so unless you can deliver a hybrid at a competitive price there’s simply no advantage in it over our efficient diesel models,” said spokesman Karl Gehling, who ruled out a local release of either the Golf EV or PHEV in the short-term.

“We don’t see there’s demand here to warrant the release of either model here at this stage,” he said.

For the record, the new Golf Mk7 plug-in hybrid will be powered by the same drivetrain as the Audi A3 etron, which will also make its world debut at Geneva.

That means it will combine VW’s 110kW 1.4-litre TFSI four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine with an all-new 75kW electric motor and an all-new gearbox to offer a combined 150kW of power and some 350Nm of torque - enough to accelerate it to 100km/h in 7.6 seconds on the way to a 222km/h top speed.

In addition, the Golf PHEV will offer up to 50km of pure-electric driving, in which mode it can reach speeds of 130km/h, and returns combined fuel consumption of just 1.5L/100km, which equates to a paltry 35g/km of CO2 emissions on the ECE’s consumption standard for plug-in hybrids.

As in the A3 etron, the 1.4 TFSI petrol four is attached via a coupling to a disc-shaped electric motor that is powered by a lithium-ion battery pack and housed within a new six-speed dual-clutch unit that controls which power source will drive the wheels at any given time.

Even less likely to ever be sold in Australia is the first e-Golf, which eschews an internal combustion engine completely and is claimed to offer a 175km driving range on a single charge of its 26.5kW lithium-ion battery, which is mounted under the rear seat and takes five hours to charge from a household power outlet.

According to reports, the zero-emissions e-Golf’s 86kW/270Nm electric motor will accelerate the Mk7 VW hatchback to 100km/h in 11.8 seconds and a 135km/h top speed, making it more than four seconds slower than the plug-in Golf hybrid, although ‘Eco’ and ‘Range’ driving modes will make it even slower.

The Golf EV and PHEV are just two of the seven new derivatives VW has promised to deliver within its new Golf model onslaught, which is a key part of the German giant’s strategy to become the world’s top-selling car-maker and producer of ‘e-mobility’ vehicles by 2018.

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Published : Friday, 22 February 2013
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