When I think back to the sheer simplicity of the original Golf compact hatch at 145.9 inches long (155.3 inches for the U.S. with those attractive bumpers hung on it), 63.4 to 64.2 inches of width, a wheelbase of just 94.5 inches, and weighing between 1,750 and 2,145 pounds, it's wild how much the icon has inflated itself. The A6 Golf now stretches to 165.3 inches long in all markets, 70.0 inches wide, sporting a 101.5-inch wheelbase, and weighing in at 2,865 pounds to start fitted with the 1,968cc, 2.0-liter TDI engine and manual six.
As exterior team boss Mindt tells me while we stare at the Golf VI in profile atop the local parking structure, the somewhat forced wedge shape of the Golf V is history. The lines toward the rear all come down now, leveling out the front-to-rear design emphasis and improving driver visibility in all directions nicely.
"No line of the new design just stops randomly or exists only for itself," Mindt tells me. "They all now continue and blend into something new, creating a much purer and simpler feel." For one, the shoulder line starting from the headlights goes all the way along the side and curls around the rear corner to the new taillights. Door pull handles are straight from the Passat and decidedly more up-market than the small and cheaper handles of the Golf V.
Whereas the marks I and II Golf seem to be universally loved designs, marks III, IV and (sort of) V haven't really ignited enough passion and bloated admiration. The Golf VI really does hit all the marks at this larger C-segment format that the Golf V really should have had in the first place, so, all in all, excellent work.
Inside the Golf VI cabin, the premium quality jump is clever. Over my 500-mile drive, the new seats up front were impressively more comfortable than any other previous Golf seat I've known. They don't go soft, they just get a much more sophisticated supportive design that includes longer squabs that make a mess of difference. All upper surfaces, according to Hahn-Heinze, are now more cushioned and more substantial to the touch. In fact, all touch surfaces are now at an Audi level or beyond, so I'm a bit confused as to what Audi intends to do in the near future in response. The newly designed three-spoke steering wheel is outstanding in the hands.
Between the outside and inside, I'd have to say the key word really is simplicity. Everything makes sense and nothing bends my nose the wrong way. There aren't too many buttons and the ones that are there are exactly where they ought to be. "The new car needed to be an evolution," says Mindt, "not a revolution." All the same, put the V and VI side by side and the V comes off as unspectacular.
Aside from pure chassis components for the A6 generation (which I'll get to after this part) and that solid simplicity of an everyman car par excellence, other factors come into play in the new Golf that reinforce the car's standing as "founder of the segment." VW acoustics engineer Frank Martin-"We have over 100 acoustics engineers," he tells me-had me perform a shade-tree test that involved knocking on the windscreen of both an A5 and an A6 Golf.
They had kindly driven up to the top of the parking structure a relatively recent Golf V GTI (all Golf V building ceased last August) and the difference caused by the new glass is stunning. This key trick of installing new windscreen technology will impress the hell out of passionate Golf V owners as it changes the tinny-sounding Golf interior into a fully premium, mini-Phaeton sonic experience. Side doors and their windows have also been double-sealed and the forward side windows are 10 percent thicker than on the Golf V. The new five-layer windscreen is the same thickness-at 0.18 of an inch-as the old four-layer screen, but what has been added as a middle layer is a 0.1mm-thick PVB acoustic film.