Volkswagen's top-selling Golf hatch has at last been completely renewed, debuting this week as the first all-new model since the fifth-generation car launched in 2003.
Revealed online ahead of its Paris Motor Show premiere later this month, the new 2013 Golf continues the evolutionary design themes set out by its predecessor and much of the current Volkswagen line-up.
While the profile of the new Golf appears largely unchanged, the new hatch gets sharper lines across the board. There are new angular headlights and tail-lights, a tighter C-pillar design and more chiselled character lines.
For now, Volkswagen has shown the new Golf in its 'regular' skin only, with the top-shelf GTI and R performers still to be revealed.
The new Golf might appear familiar on the surface, but it's a different story under the skin. Volkswagen's new 'lighter and stronger' MQB platform forms the framework for this generation.
Volkswagen says it has shaved up to 100kg from the Golf, with 37kg gone from the body, 26kg lost through greater use of aluminium, 40kg from the engines and 6kg from wiring. The dash alone is 20 percent lighter than before.
In entry-level trim, the Golf now weighs as little as 1050kg.
As with most new models, the 2013 Golf is larger than its predecessor, measuring 56mm longer and riding on a 59mm longer wheelbase. It is also 13mm wider and 28mm lower than before.
Interior space is also improved, with the front wheels sitting 43mm further forward than before. The change results in 15mm greater leg room in the rear. Front shoulder room grows by 31mm, and elbow room is up by 22mm.
Rear storage capacity grows to 380 litres - up 30 litres - and with the front passenger seat folded forward, there is 2412mm of storage length.
In the cabin, the dash has taken on a more driver-focused design, the centre stack now angled towards the pilot. Depending on the variant, there are new gloss-black highlights, along with black, tan and white trim options.
The 2013 Golf will be offered internationally with new engine options, including a pair of direct-injected and turbocharged petrol mills and two turbodiesel choices.
Transmissions will include a six-speed manual, and six- and seven-speed versions of Volkswagen's DSG auto.
Petrol choices will include 63kW 1.2 litre TSI and 103kW 1.4 litre engines - the first using 4.8 l/100km of fuel and the second listing an even lower figure of 4.8 l/100km, thanks to Volkswagen's Active Cylinder Manager system.
The ACT system is a world-first for four-cylinder engines, cutting off two cylinders when engine load is low or moderate, reducing fuel consumption by around 0.4 l/100km.
The four-cylinder diesel options are new, made of a 77kW 1.6 litre engine and a 110kW 2.0 litre unit. Fuel consumption is listed at 3.8 l/100km for the first - a figure achieved only in the BlueMotion version of the outgoing model - and 4.1 l/100km for the second.
A third diesel option will also be offered, in the form of the BlueMotion variant listing fuel consumption at 3.2 l/100km. Carbon emissions for this model are listed at 85g/km, compared to 99 and 106g/km for the other two.
Each engine in the new Golf line is fitted with stop/start technology.
As before, the new Golf range will be offered in three trim grades: Trendline, Comfortline and Highline.
Depending on trim grade, new features in the 2013 Golf include a five-inch display, a new 5.8 inch colour touch-screen, and an eight-inch display in top-trim grades.
Satellite navigation is standard in those top-shelf models, along with an electronic parking brake and auto-hold.
A 'universal' phone holder is featured beneath the centre console, featuring an inductive link to an external aerial on the car, boosting signal and limiting the phone's battery drain.
A new driver profile selection system is also featured for the first time in the Golf range, offering Eco, Sport, Normal and Individual modes. Combined with Adaptive Chassis Control, a Comfort mode is also featured.
A pre-crash system is featured, tightening seatbelts and closing all windows and the sunroof - although leaving a small gap for airbag protection - when a collision is determined to be imminent.
A multi-collision braking system is also featured, automatically applying the brakes in the moments after a collision to minimise the effects of kinetic energy and the chance of a second impact.
Other available safety features include Adaptive Cruise Control with Front Assist - which can stop the car from 150km/h if necessary - along with City Emergency Braking, Fatigue Detection, Lane Assist, and Volkswagen's Park Assist automatic parking.
Volkswagen's XDS electronic differential lock is also standard in the new Golf, previously found only in the GTI model.
A three-door version of the new Golf is expected to join the line-up in the new year.
Expect the new Golf to make its Australian debut in 2013. Watch for more details as the launch date draws nearer.
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