Volkswagen: another round of Golfs
The hugely successful Volkswagen is nowin its seventh incarnation
The Volkswagen Golf first came on the market in 1974, to replace the iconic Beetle as the new "people's car". Although its sibling has been resurrected, there's no doubt that the Golf has been enormously popular.
It's a car that transcends class and has found appeal among a wide demographic of drivers over almost four decades. More than 29 million have rolled off the production line, and VW sold 1,900 Golfs in Hong Kong and Macau alone last year.
The secret of the Golf's success, says the VW group's Hong Kong managing director, Thorsten Jaede, is continuity of the design and use of the latest technology in each new model.
The seventh-generation Golf was unveiled in Hong Kong last month, and it's more than just an updated model, Jaede says. It is an entirely new car, albeit in a familiar stylish package.
That design DNA includes the wide C-pillar at the back, a shoulder line that gives the body a two-tone look, a slim grille and double headlamps. The latest iteration has a body that's 5.6cm longer and 1.3cm wider, with front wheels set more than 4cm farther forward. Along with a lower roof, the effect is a sleeker, sportier appearance. A striking design touch is a thin chrome line that continues from the grille through the front light set-up, separating the lamps and indicators.
It has been given a new platform of high-strength steel and is now 100kg lighter than the previous model. This, with new engines, better aerodynamics and functions such as stop/start and brake regeneration, result in an average 14 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency.
The slightly larger size means there's more legroom in the cabin and 30 more litres of boot space for a total of 380 litres.
The two cars on sale in Hong Kong use a four-cylinder, 1.4-litre TSI engine - a direct-injection turbocharger - with two output levels. The GT offers 140 horsepower and 250Nm of torque while the Comfortline gives 120 hp and 200Nm.
One of the main innovations in the new Golf is multicollision brake technology, which, in the event of a crash, brakes the car immediately to reduce the impact of a secondary collision. An optional feature is a fatigue detection system that recognises signs of tiredness - such as a tighter grip on the wheel - and activates an alarm.
Volkswagen has also upped the ante in the cabin. Comfortable but firmly sculpted seats are rendered in soft leather. The dashboard is angled towards the driver, with an easy to use touch-screen infotainment system.
It is nippy, handles with ease and holds firm when cornering. There's an impressive four drive modes - normal, eco, individual and sport. The latter ramps up the responsiveness and turns up the exhaust note. This is a big car in a small body.
The Comfortline has a special launch price of HK$239,800, while the GT costs HK$269,800.