Beyond the standard chassis, the A6 Golf now offers the sophisticated adaptive chassis control system, or DCC, which sets the car 0.4-inch lower. This chassis technology, which was first introduced as standard (optional in North America) in the first half of 2008 on the Passat CC, has been engineered in cooperation with Monroe. As engineer Sonnak describes it, "the DCC struts alone took four years to engineer mainly because they've been designed as modular assemblies easy to switch out using the drillings already in place for the standard suspension." Bushings have been made to correspond better with the DCC design with the goal of keeping the general comportment and comfort of the car at similar default levels as with the standard suspension. Anti-roll bars with DCC alter rigidity-33 N/mm front, 12.5 N/mm rear-as do the spring rates-21 N/mm front, 24 N/mm rear. As with the costly rear axle engineering back in 2003, the DCC integration has cost a lot up front, but the payoff across the VW product line in the next few years will be impressive.
One issue of particular pride at Volkswagen is that the algorithms that correspond to the DCC calibrations have all been programmed in-house. A high data-flow Infineon TriCore 1766 processor mounted within the ECU board placed to the right of the trunk in the A6 Golf determines every move of the DCC chassis via numerous sensors monitoring body roll, steering input, throttle and brake action, as well as road impact. The three basic control programs-Sport, Normal, Comfort-are general default guidelines that act upon suspension and steering feel, but the full range of DCC reactions is ready to override any of these three should conditions call for this. The ECU communicates with each strut separately once every millisecond.
Golf engine experts Niels Mller and Andr Kuphal reminded me of the newly situated engine mounting points and bushings which significantly reduce engine noise and vibration carry-through to the cabin and add their touch of stiffness to the whole. All engines within the lineup as well, from the EA111 1.4-liter with little Eaton supercharger I drove to the new EA888 2.0-liter TFSI, though identical in appearance, have been completely redesigned to ease accessibility during service, another significant cost-saving move.
So the Golf VI, though seemingly not Earth-shatteringly new compared to the Golf V, is finally a distinctly different and upmarket driver versus the Golf IV. Whereas I only really felt the big differences in the GTI model before, now the entire lineup is distinctly supreme in comparison to even the Audi A3 with which it shares a chassis. That's a big leap. Even for a Rabbit.
Build for our North American cars starts at the end of June 2009 and deliveries start in September. Golf VI marketing boss Dirk Hussmann tells me that we will be pleased with how close the new car's price is to the outgoing model's. That's huge since you'll feel a huge difference, too, when you try it.