Paris is now the city of the VW Golf GTI. Four years ago, the sixth generation of the best-seller made its debut here - still as a concept car. In autumn 2012, Volkswagen is presenting the seventh generation Golf GTI in a premiere at the 2012 Mondial de l'Automobile in Paris - also as a concept car. In doing so, Volkswagen is opening another window to the immediate future of the most successful European car model series, because another car being shown to a global audience in the French capital at the same time as the GTI is the near-production concept of the new Golf BlueMotion. The new Volkswagen Golf GTI will be launched into the market in early 2013.
220 PS and 230 PS. The concept of the next Golf GTI is powered by a further advanced engine from the EA888 series - a two-litre turbocharged direct-injection petrol engine with 162 kW / 220 PS. A new option: for the first time in the iconic sports car's history, a performance pack will be available as a factory-installed option. In this version, the engine's maximum power is boosted to 169 kW / 230 PS. Both GTI versions are equipped with a Stop/Start system as standard, they fulfil the EU-6 emissions standard that takes effect in 2014 and - with a 6-speed manual gearbox - they attain the same low DIN fuel consumption of 6.0 l/100 km (CO2: 140 g/km). Compared to the previous model (155 kW / 210 PS), the combined fuel consumption of the new Golf GTI is therefore reduced by 1.3 litres per 100 km or 18 per cent. A 6-speed dual-clutch gearbox (DSG) is available as an option for both power levels.
The performance pack not only offers a plus in power, but also a plus in handling: instead of 16-inch brakes, the GTI is equipped with 17-inch brakes here (with GTI badges on the callipers) and a front axle differential lock (VAQ) that is also being offered for the first time in this form.
Front axle differential lock. The electronically controlled lock has a positive effect on active safety and driving dynamics, because it practically prevents the power-related understeer that can occur in powerful front-wheel drive cars. This makes handling precise, and has a stabilising effect in load-alteration induced oversteer. The reason: VAQ increases the power to the wheel on the outside of the curve, which also optimises the vehicle's speed through bends. Traction is also improved when driving on loose and wet road surfaces and in turning situations.
Progressive steering. The new progressive steering system is celebrating a world premiere in the Golf GTI. It is a standard feature for both power levels. Thanks to this steering system, the driver can turn the car through a desired radius with fewer turns of the steering wheel. In other words, the driver does not need to reach over the wheel as often. That may sound simple, but it is revolutionary. The reason is that conventional steering systems work with a constant gear ratio. The new steering of the Volkswagen Golf GTI, meanwhile, operates with a progressive steering gear ratio. This noticeably reduces steering work when manoeuvring and parking. On country roads with lots of bends, and when making turns, the driver experiences a benefit in dynamics due to the more direct layout.
Technically, progressive steering differs from the basic steering system due to the rack and pinion's variable tooth spacing and a more powerful electric motor. Its functional difference: unlike with constant steering ratios, which by necessity always represent a compromise between dynamic performance and comfort, here the steering rack's toothing is significantly modified by the steering stroke. As a result, the transition between indirect steering behaviour in the mid-range (straight-line driving) and direct steering behaviour at larger steering wheel angles is designed to be progressive, which, as mentioned above, enables significantly more agile steering behaviour in dynamic driving situations. This results in smaller steering input angles when parking for greater convenience and comfort.
Variable ratios have long been known in the area of hydraulic steering systems; however, the tuning of such a steering system is subject to very tight limits, so that the driver is not overtaxed by the transitional behaviour. With the Golf GTI's progressive steering system the situation is completely different: the combination of the steering rack's progressive steering ratio and the tuning potential of an electro-mechanical steering system is systematically exploited in the GTI to realise optimised steering behaviour that is sporty yet practical in everyday driving. In all other Golf cars, progressive steering is offered as an optional feature.
Like all six Golf GTI generations before it, the seventh generation concept car being shown in Paris is distinguished from other Golf models by numerous additional equipment features and classic GTI insignia. On the exterior, these include the red painted brake callipers, a GTI-typical honeycomb structure for the air inlet screens, smoked LED rear lights including LED licence plate lighting as well as chrome 80 mm diameter tailpipes on the left and right. Some features have been characteristic since the days of the first Volkswagen Golf GTI, for example the production colours Red ("Tornado Red") and "Black" and an optional white exterior ("Pure White" as special colour). Volkswagen has further developed the classic GTI wheels "Denver", "Detroit" and "Glendale" whose styling characteristics from the previous model have flowed into the design of the new machine-polished 17-inch "Brooklyn" alloy wheels; they have a lighter visual look and are in fact lighter in weight. The wheels are fitted with 225/45 size tyres. 18-inch wheels will also be available on the GTI as an option.
Overall, the seventh generation Golf is also visually more dynamic than the previous one. The objective of the designers was to develop an even more striking and sporty character into the new Golf GTI - the goal was to give the GTI a lower, wider image with a more challenging character. Volkswagen Design developed numerous individual, detailed solutions for the new Golf GTI and integrated them harmoniously into the overall visual concept. Important here is the fact that the GTI-specific design elements are not simply "add-on" solutions, but are integrated into the overall design of the car. One significant reason for this is that the GTI was designed in parallel to the "normal" Golf - and this made it possible to coordinate perfectly the differentiating characteristics of the two model versions.
At the front end, with its LED fog lights specially customised for the GTI, a powerful and significant GTI element attracts attention, which has now been fully reinterpreted: the red stripe. In the first generation of the car it surrounded the rectangular radiator grille completely. On the sixth generation GTI there were two red stripes, which framed the grille at the top and bottom. Now, on the seventh generation car, the red stripe marks the lower edge of the radiator grille, but for the first time it extends further to the left and right, up to the housings of the bi-xenon headlights. So, the red line now runs completely across the front end.
In the far lower section of the bumper, beneath the crossbar painted in body colour, the black air inlet (with a honeycomb pattern screen) is no longer framed by a black area, rather by surfaces painted in body colour, which makes the air inlet stand out more powerfully. At the same time, the three lateral black aerodynamic fins beneath the headlights play a more prominent role in the front end styling. Another detail fitting in with the precisely contoured styling is the black splitter (lower edge of the front spoiler), which is familiar from motorsport. Also styled in black are the side sills and the rear diffuser. These quasi wrap-around black elements give the Golf, which is equipped with a GTI sport chassis (15 mm lower ride height), an even fuller stance on the road.
Another example of the harmonious integration of GTI-specific elements is the new roof spoiler design, which is considerably larger than its counterpart on Golf versions with less powerful engines and which is integrated to be flush with the bootlid and the body. For the first time, the sporty Volkswagen also has - in addition to the GTI badges at the front and rear - red plates on the front wings at the height of the character line with the same typographic interpretation of the GTI logo that has been used for decades.
GTI insignia in the interior. The very first GTI had this feature: seat covers in legendary tartan pattern. The sixth generation Golf GTI used "Jacky" fabric, and in the transition to the new GTI generation this has been redesigned and is now named "Clark". Naturally, the tartan pattern was retained. The sport seats (in front, with sliding drawers under the seats) have exceptionally good ergonomic properties. Step in, sit down, adjust the backrest angle and the distance to the steering wheel, buckle up, and you're all ready to drive. Nonetheless, the front seats also have height adjustment and a manually adjustable lumbar support. Red decorative seams in the area of the seats and the gear shift trim provide a sporty contrast; the black roofliner that is always part of the GTI emphasises the sporty layout of the interior.
Along with its many standard features such as air conditioning, fatigue detection and the "Composition Touch" radio system (with CD card slot and AUX-IN interface), other GTI-specific features refine the standard version interior as well: typical of a Volkswagen Golf GTI are the customised sport steering wheel and a special gear shift grip. The latter is once again reminiscent of a golf ball, which also makes it a tribute to the first GTI just like the new leather-trimmed steering wheel design. The sporty flat-bottomed steering wheel with its three metal spokes and trim in high-gloss black has a lightweight look, and it is remarkably handy and easy to grip. On its two cross spokes it has multifunction keys as standard, and at its centre - in contrast to all other Golf steering wheels - it has a round impact absorber whose form is similar to that of the component in the first GTI.
Also making a strong statement is the GTI instrument cluster with a colour display and independent graphics of its instruments. It is no coincidence that it resembles high-end chronographs. The GTI-specific look of the interior is completed by red ambience lighting, special trim strips and panels (trim strips in the front doors with ambience lighting), brushed stainless steel pedals and foot rest (on left), door sill entry plates in front with a stainless steel application and ambience lighting that is also integrated here.
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