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The Warsaw Voice » Society » May 20, 2009
Volkswagen Golf VI 1.4 TSI
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Brains Over Beauty
May 20, 2009   
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The Golf is the most popular compact car in Europe and an iconic name for the Volkswagen brand. Since it put the model on the market in 1974, the automaker has sold more than 26 million Golfs around the world.

The sixth-generation Golf, designed by Walter de Silva, head designer of the Volkswagen corporation, was unveiled by the Germany-based automaker at the Paris Auto Show in the fall of last year and was named World Car of the Year at the New York International Auto Show this spring. The judges praised the new Golf VI, a sporty hatchback known as the Rabbit in the United States, for its solid build, high quality cabin, and a choice of excellent TSI and TDI engines.

The new Golf does not exactly overwhelm you with its looks. Its design is neither particularly bold nor inventive. In fact, the car looks conservative and is just a newer version of the Golf V. Is this a mistake? Rather a deliberate decision. The Golf has always been a step behind design trends. What makes this model special is hidden under the hood.

A choice of four gasoline engines is available to power the car: a 1.4l/80 hp unit; a 1.4l.TSI turbocharged unit delivering either 122 or 160 hp; a 1.6l/102 hp; and a sporty GTI version with a turbocharged 2.0 TSI/210 hp. Plus a TDI 2l turbodiesel delivering 110 or 170 hp.

Volkswagen leads the way among automakers downsizing their cars, or increasing their horsepower by using turbocompressors. The test-drive unit was fitted with a downsized 1.4 TSI engine with an automatic seven-speed DSG transmission. In this small-capacity motor, horsepower was boosted to 122 hp thanks to the use of two turbocompressors. A maximum torque of 200 Nm at 1,500-4,000 rpm makes it possible to accelerate the Golf from standstill to 100 kph in 10.2 seconds and achieve a top speed of 195 kph. The engine is not only responsive, but also flexible and economical. Even though, in normal road conditions, it is difficult to achieve the average fuel consumption promised by the producer (6.3l/100 km), the car's fast and reliable transmission lets you keep fuel economy at around 7.0-7.5l./100 km if you go easy on the gas pedal. Finally, a surprise: you hear practically no engine noise in the passenger cabin. This is because the engine compartment is exceptionally well soundproofed, an effect enhanced by the use of seals in the doors, soundproof windows and low air resistance.

The car is 4,204 mm long and has a 2,578 mm wheelbase. Even though the wheelbase is slightly smaller than in competitive models (for example, the Toyota Auris's 2,600 mm, and the Renault Megane's 2,640 mm), the cabin is spacious enough to hold five adult passengers and allow them to travel in comfort. The luggage compartment is 395l, increasing to 1,450l with the back seats folded down. Another plus about the Golf is that it can carry a maximum load of 627 kg.

The finishing materials are of a high standard and excellently matched. Moreover, the Golf is unrivaled in cabin ergonomics, at least in its market segment. The dashboard is easy to use. Access to all the controls and switches is intuitive, and attention to detail is exemplified by the location of the widow and side mirror controls: they are placed high on the doors-at the height of the gauges so that you can use them without really taking your hands off the steering wheel. Fortunately, unlike in earlier versions of the Golf, the gauges themselves are no longer illuminated red, but have white digits with red hands against a black background-a small detail but one that shows that the automaker pays attention to driver comfort and safety.

In fact, safety is one of Volkswagen's top priorities. Even the entry-level Golf features a set of front, side and curtain airbags and ABS/ESP electronic systems. An extensive range of comfort features includes an onboard computer, air conditioning, and a CD/audio system.

Add to that the car's direct steering system and springy suspension-with MacPherson struts on the front and a four-link system in the rear swallowing up bumps and giving a firm, sporty feel-and you will understand why the new Golf has won the thumbs-up not only from competition judges, but also from millions of drivers around the world, including in this country.

Bartosz Grzybiński
Auto Section Coordinator
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