More Car, Less Filling: Volkswagen Launches New Golf Generation

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
more car less filling volkswagen launches new golf generation

It’s a little less than 40 years ago that a newly minted copywriter called Bertel Schmitt wrote his first ads for a newly minted car called Volkswagen Golf. As chronicled in the Autobiography of BS, the car became an involuntary star. At its launch, everybody at Volkswagen was convinced it would be a dud.

29 million cars later, the Golf is one of the world’s most sold cars, and by large Volkswagen’s most important. In a few weeks, Volkswagen will launch its all—new seventh generation of the Golf, the emm-kay seven in blogger parlance. This is a make-or-break launch. If something would go wrong with this launch, it would be doubly bad for Volkswagen. The new Golf also is the first Volkswagen that is based on VW’s new modular MQB architecture.

The Golf VII is already being produced in Wolfsburg under a cloak of secrecy. A few journalists were allowed to touch, but not to see. They could sit in a new Golf that was still covered by a big tarp. And they had to surrender their camera-equipped cell phones. Today, the embargo on Volkswagen-supplied pictures lifted. Pictures of the car will be supplied later.

Wait, auto motor und sport has pictures – of a Golf dressed in fetish gear.

The most important innovation: Despite growing a bit in length and girth, the seventh generation Golf is 100 kg (220 lb) lighter than its predecessor. The Golf is now at the lightweight level of the 4th generation Golf. The car will get an up to 23 percent better mileage, and will not cost more than the current model, says Volkswagen.

This weight reduction was not achieved “with expensive materials such as aluminum, magnesium or carbon fiber,” writes Der Spiegel. Volkswagen engineers systematically hunted for weight savings.

Electrical parts did shed 3 kilos, the engines lost 22 kgs. 26 kilos were saved in the chassis, 37 in the Golf’s body. Seats could become lighter and less bulky through the use of high tensile steel.

Using “tailored blanks,” metal is only used where needed.

In the past, Volkswagen engineers were proud of the straight line weld achieved through the use of a laser. Now, they brag of “wobble welds.” Those are laser welds that look like a sine curve, allowing firm weld with a minimum of overlap.

The new Golf is “equipped with all imaginable infotainment and electronic assistance gadgets,” writes the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. It even has a new “multi collision brake” that tries to avoid a second impact after initial collision.

The new Golf will meet formidable opposition in Daimler’s new Mercedes A-Class and Toyota’s new hatched Corolla, the Auris. This time, nobody at Volkswagen doubts that the car will be a success.

Note to GM: Despite a once in a generation model change, and a once in a lifetime changeover to a completely new car architecture that requires completely new production methods, Volkswagen did not pile up inventories of the Golf 6, and does not shut down factories for months. It is a smooth and fluid changeover. During the three week vacation time from July 30 through August 17, one line was kept running to fill demand, while elsewhere, the lines were re-rigged for the new Golf VII.

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  • SteveMK2Rio SteveMK2Rio on Aug 22, 2012

    Bertel, I've heard about Toyota doing similar things at TMMK - switching over to a new Camry without stopping the line. This sounds like even more of an achievement. It's seriously amazing what they can do.

  • Junebug Junebug on Aug 23, 2012

    Don't know about the Golf, but from what I heard/read, on the UK Top Gear, the GTI -they did make use of - say it with me...AL-U-Men-Nee-um.

  • MaintenanceCosts The Thunderbird SVE used a supercharged version of the 2-valve Mod, not the 4-valve one at issue here.There were nonstop rumors in the early 90s that the 4-valve engine would end up in the P71, making a true competitor to the LT1-powered bubble Caprice, but it never happened.
  • MaintenanceCosts Removing hardware that is already present in a physical machine you bought is theft. Someone affected should sue Tesla for conversion.It's just one more example of the sort of sharp business practices that you expect with Elmo at the helm..
  • Theflyersfan Needed an updated picture of Philadelphia to replace the rather nice ones above.
  • Arthur Dailey Any vehicle with a continental hump, even if vestigial, gets a thumbs up from me.
  • KOKing Actually a place called Sector111 in Temecula, CA was importing them for sale in the US starting around 2012. A friend had a shop right next door, and I recall seeing the very first one the owner imported for himself, and would bring it out to promote at various local events. Also shows this thing's been around for a while.