VOLKSWAGEN HAS BEEN spotted testing the next generation of its evergreen Golf hatchback at the Nurburgring, only a year since the current Golf VI's global sales debut.
However, despite its new appearance, the Golf VI that's on sale in VW showrooms now runs on a fundamentally unchanged Golf V platform.
These spy shots would seem to be evidence that Volkwagen is now in development of new architecture for the Golf VII to accommodate future powerplants and drivetrains, as well as improved suspension hardware.
The seventh-gen model is also expected to be the basis for the first model in Volkswagen's upcoming E-Mobility range of hybrid and electric vehicles.
The hybrid system will be derived from Volkswagen's Twin Drive plug-in technology concept, and Golf VI-based test mules are currently conducting trials in Europe.
Aside from the ability to house a hybrid powertrain, the Golf VII's track width will increase (as evidenced by the prominent over-fenders on this prototype), and the extruded fuel filler suggests the body itself will be slightly wider.
The Golf VI is expected to end its production run at the end of 2011, meaning its comprehensively re-engineered successor should arrive in early 2012.
Further details on the next-gen Golf are still scant, but bank on the seventh-generation Golf being a yet more eco-friendly model than the car it will replace.