2013 VW Golf makes official debut

Volkswagen has outed the 2013 Golf, the seventh generation of the company's bestselling hatchback, now lighter and almost a quarter more fuel efficient than before. Although outwardly similar to the model it replaces, the 2013 Golf is in fact redesigned completely, using VW's "Modular Transverse Matrix" platform; it also gets new engines, offering from 85 PS to 150 PS of power and fuel economy improvements of 23-percent over the 6th-gen Golf.

Outside, the new Golf is 2.2-inches longer, while the wheelbase has stretched 2.3-inches over the old car. That not only improves internal space, VW says, but benefits the crash-protection structure and gives the car a sportier stance; you'd have to be a real Golf obsessive to notice that it's 0.8-inches lower and 0.5-inches wider, however.

Despite the size change, the 2013 Golf sheds 220 pounds through a culmination of dieting. The air-con unit is six pounds lighter than before; the seats a full 15 pounds less. 80-percent of the car is high-strength steel (versus 66-percent before), and of that 28-percent is ultra-high-strength. For the Euro models, that means a 140 HP 1.4-liter turbo good for 49mpg, or 62mpg (EC figures, not EPA) from the 105 HP TDI Clean Diesel.

Inside, it's another clean sweep for Volkswagen. Shoulder, leg, and cargo room are all bigger, with the hatch now opening for a more-easily accessible load area. Kit is yet to be confirmed, but there's a 5-inch touchscreen infotainment system even on base-spec Euro models, while the top-end blows that up to an 8-inch unit with navigation.

Not all of the specs of the European 2013 Golf – the model VW showed off this week – will necessarily make it over to the North American version, though any design changes should be minor. Pricing will be announced closer to launch.