There is no existing production car really and truly so important on the planet as the Volkswagen Golf. Earlier this year I was invited to Iceland to drive the sixth generation of this legendary hatch, but I personally said nuts to that for a bag of cod.

Why would I head up to a bankrupt island for a few heavily jet-lagged hours in the car, and in the rain, when I could organize a full-on one-day deep download in the heartland of Golf/Rabbitry and talk one-on-one with all the Cherman encheneers direktly involfed viss dzeh kah? I'd miss a shot at bedding Bjrk, but I might just bump into David Hasselhoff as he searches around Wolfsburg for his next record deal.

The Damned Name
I thought all the wretched re-namings of recently launched important cars were over once I got the American Ford Taurus-no-500-no-Taurus and the equally brilliant European Toyota Auris (instead of sticking with the world's most recognized car name, Corolla) out of my pissed system. But no. Volkswagen took a good decision and turned it bad when they allowed the North American branch to revert to the Rabbit name instead of sticking with the world's second most recognizable car name (Golf). The name Rabbit will not sell more cars than Golf. A stronger marketing strategy for VW in North America will sell more of anything by any name.

This is a highly personal rant and from here out I'm calling it a Golf, since I'm in Germany doing this.

500 Miles, Kids
My decision to nix the Icelandic foray in favor of a customized Wolfsburg trip afterward paid off hugely. VW brought me a new Golf with an as yet not-for-sale sensational engine setup to the air terminal in Frankfurt and had me drive the car north 400 kilometers (249 miles) to Wolfsburg, do all my conversations the next day, and then drive the car all the way back to Frankfurt. I cannot tell you how amazing this first big driving experience was, but I'll attempt it.

Mine was a Candy White A6 Golf with a 158-hp, 1.4-liter TSI Twincharger powerplant-termed EA111-joined to the latest BorgWarner seven-speed DSG gearbox I already loved in the new Scirocco, and equipped with the really solid DCC (adaptive chassis control) I already loved in the Passat CC. This is probably the very Golf I will buy, adding only the steering wheel paddles and 18-inch wheels (16s are standard). Yes, one of the grand benefits of living in Europe is that I'll be able to actually walk down the street and buy this amazing car, but North American inhabitants can't because VW product planning and the North American offices believe Americans-I can't speak for the Canadians-aren't ready in big enough numbers to go for this cylinder dimension. There were also mumblings of homologation costs, though I doubt that has anything to do with it. A pity; the Twincharger system is genius work on small-capacity engines, and we all need to get back to smaller capacities for a shrinking planet and wallet.

Look!
The first meeting on my big day was with the design team leaders, Andreas Mindt on exterior and Joachim Hahn-Heinze on the living space. To start, the A6 Golf at first flash does not strike anyone as an all-new-looking car. In the C-pillar there's actually a return to the boxiness of the Golf IV, which in turn lessens the rake of the larger rear glass. All exterior dimensions are insignificantly larger or exactly the same. Nonetheless, all the nuances come clear during the walk-around I got from both Mindt and Hahn-Heinze. To start, only the roof panel is carried over directly from the Golf V.

Though I personally see it as a stretch, VW insists that the new face is closely tied to the original 1974 look created by Giorgetto Giugiaro, with the headlights poking out from the black grille. Well, sort of, I guess, but all I can think of is the face of the new Scirocco. No matter, since I love the new look regardless of point of origin.

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