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All change for the VW Golf

The Volkswagen Golf remains the people’s car. In 2005, it was crowned Europe’s best-seller for the second year in a row. But behind the scenes, Volkswagen is in a state of flux, as it restructures in a bid to boost earnings.

One initiative is to shake up the Golf range. Today’s car will be reskinned in 2008, and two all-new bodystyles – an SUV and a coupé – introduced.

The overhauled family hatch arrives in spring 2008, two years ahead of its initial replacement date. This Golf is effectively the MkVI, because it will get a new, sportier look and a revised chassis.

VW’s new policy is to spin two model cycles off a platform: the next Polo will use an updated version of today’s PQ24 platform. And the Golf MkVI will use an updated version of today’s chassis, although the underpinnings will be simplified.

Today’s Golf initially took 50 hours to build – double the time it takes to assemble a Vauxhall, Peugeot or Ford – although VW has been cutting the gap. The multi-link rear axle, which has transformed the Golf’s ride and handling, will be carried over, but be easier to install.

The current hatchback’s hard points – pillars, glasshouse, roof and doors – also remain. But the design team will graft on new details: Audi-esque rear lamps and a more pronounced grille from the EcoRacer concept. And new sheet metal – a rear wing and a rising shoulder line – will also contribute to a much sportier look for the Golf VI.

Petrol engines range from 80bhp 1.4-litre petrol to a 280bhp 3.6-litre V6; the diesels span 90bhp 1.6 to 170bhp 2.0 TDi.

The plan also includes a new flagship model, a two-door reviving the Scirocco name. The coupé’s look harks back to its iconic forebears, with a shoulder line that kicks up towards the rear, four bulb headlamps and a raked, fastback rump. The Scirocco looks as fast as it goes.

Power comes from the high performance VW engines – 2.0-litre GTI, VR6 and the new twin charge unit, combining both turbo and supercharger to boost torque across the rev range, while reducing consumption. The 1.4-litre TSi punches above its weight with 170bhp.

The other member of the 2008 Golf family is the long-awaited SUV. The Concept A previewed the car’s face, although its swooping roofline and suicide rear doors won’t make production. It will be available with front and 4Motion four-wheel drive, and four and sixpot engines.

And the name could be as awkward as Touareg. Nanuk, Namib, Samun and Tiguan are all said to be in the running, but the favourite is Rockton.

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