- Golf exterior one of the world’s most recognizable product designs
- Seventh stage of Golf evolution shows clearly added dynamism and precision
- Golf reflects par excellence the principles of Volkswagen’s design DNA
There is but a handful of cars with a design that, like the Golf’s, has been constantly refined, tweaked and enhanced down the decades and has thus become timeless. In this process the Volkswagen designers repeatedly gave a new edge to the Golf’s product features. These include the typical C-pillars, the long roofline and the characteristic front and rear sections. These details also make the new Golf more special, more valuable and more durable than any other compact car.
The design of the new Golf
In developing the new Golf the teams led by head designers Walter de Silva (Group) and Klaus Bischoff (Brand) based their work on the one hand on a great deal of creative freedom that allows many different approaches for a new design, while on the other also on the principles of the Volkswagen design DNA. A look at this DNA reveals the key to the new Golf’s design.
Development of the DNA
Over recent years, the Volkswagen designers have crystallized a selection of core elements from the brand’s history, which they term its ‘historic DNA’. All current Volkswagen designs correspond to this DNA, with the cars therefore conveying a modern, progressive impression, which nevertheless – and this is the key – feels familiar. This DNA includes elements such as the first Golf’s roofline, side windows and radiator grille crossbeam in its reduced form and the Golf Mk4’s typical C-pillars and wheel arches.
This DNA creates a unique, unmistakable language of product features and design. The language of product features leaves on the one hand a familiar feeling and yet on the other a new sensation in the eyes of the observer. The features are visual characteristics such as functionality, robustness, honesty and reliability. These characteristics are generated by a language of form perfected over many years. It creates the typical Volkswagen product design that today enjoys success around the globe.
“This language of form,” explains Bischoff, “is logical, solid, product-focused, pure and precise and reflects the brand’s design DNA as a perfect model of creativity. The base architecture of the new Golf is therefore unmistakable. It comes over as simple, strong, understandable, reliable and safe. Starting from the pure element of this clear base architecture, details such as the economical use and placement of sculptural lines are more like fine nuances. Another extremely important point is the fact that with the seventh generation the Golf’s proportions have completely changed, making the car look more premium-class than ever before!”
Marc Lichte, leading designer for the exterior, explains: “The proportions have changed, as we have taken advantage here of the Modular Transverse Matrix. The front wheels, for example, have moved 43 millimeters further forward. The front overhang is therefore shorter and at the same time the bonnet looks longer.” Klaus Bischoff confirms this: “Visually, the passenger compartment has moved towards the rear, creating what is called a ‘car-backward’ impression. That’s what we call the proportions of premium-class vehicles, on which the bonnet is long and the passenger compartment a long way towards the back. On the new Golf we thus have proportions that you otherwise only get in higher-class segments of the market.”
Silhouette with powerful lines
Marc Lichte: “And we sought to underline these modified proportions with design elements. Below the door handles we have integrated the now clearly visible and very sharp character line. While this line is broken by the wheel arches, it is otherwise continuous and is stylistically reflected in the chrome bars of the radiator grille and headlights and at the back in the white lateral bars of the rear light clusters. Set deep down all the way around, this line lowers the apparent centre of gravity and makes the car appear more solid on the road. Another striking element is the new line along the side shoulder directly below the windows. This line begins at the front in the headlight, then glides under the wing mirror, which is positioned right on the line, all the way through to the rear side window, underling the premium proportions of the new Golf.” The wheel arches are particularly prominent as well and along with the wider track, the longer wheelbase and tire dimensions of up to 18 inches make the Golf appear more powerful.
“Two further features,”explains Klaus Bischoff, “are characteristic of the new Golf silhouette. Two typical Golf elements: the C-pillar and the roofline. On the previous Golf the character line still cut through the C-pillar. This is no longer the case on the new Golf. The C-pillar thus runs along one homogenous surface from the start of the roof all the way to the rear wheel arch. Above the wheel arch, however, it picks up more strongly the entire width of the car – and as a result, seen from behind or diagonally from the rear, the new Golf looks more solid and more powerful. Viewed straight on from the side the precision of the C-pillar design catches the eye, resembling the drawn string of a bow and thus giving the Golf a speedy appearance even when static, while at the same time paying homage to the Golf Mk2 and Mk4 – both design icons.” On the right-hand side of the vehicle even the shape of the fuel cap is integrated into this arrow element. Head Designer Klaus Bischoff continues: “The contour of the roofline has also been completely redesigned. Here, too – above the side windows – the Golf now displays a further line, which runs from the roof-edge spoiler right through to the A-pillars. It is one of those character features that give the Golf a particularly high-value look from the side as well – a line that at first fleeting glance perhaps remains unnoticed, yet is a further detail en route to visual precision.”
The front section
The Volkswagen design DNA manifests itself in a ‘face’ that has appealing features. In addition, in the same way as on the first Golf, it defines horizontally balanced elements that create a certain width. Together they produce a front section that is recognizable in every rear view window as that of a Volkswagen. Each Volkswagen class has its own character attributes in this respect. In the Golf class these include, for example, the slightly upward sweeping headlights and a defined maximum height for the radiator grille.
Compared to its predecessor, the new Golf displays completely restructured modulation of its surfaces. While on the Golf Mk6 the wings were higher than the bonnet – effectively framing it – this is now the other way round. On the sides the crease lines form the wings’ lowest points, before the latter transfer vertically into the wheel arches. The top border of the wings is formed by a line, as if cut by a knife, that begins at the A-pillars. All of the lines together form a V-shaped bonnet.
Beneath the bonnet then come the redesigned headlights and the comparatively narrow band of the radiator grille. At the bottom the radiator grille is bordered – to the left and right of the chrome Volkswagen badge – by a chrome bar, which where xenon headlights are fitted is continued in the headlight housing. Particularly striking is the xenon headlight’s LED daytime running light. Meanwhile the bottom air inlet, in conjunction with the body-colored area beneath the headlights, supports the strong horizontal arrangement of the front section design. The air inlet is now framed by a body-colored area that even with the car’s very self-assured look gives it the typical Volkswagen smile. Another core design element is the bend at the outer ends of the bumper, which produces – especially in aerial view – a change of shape.
The rear view
Typical Golf elements at the rear include the clear geometry of the rear lights, the rear window stretching all the way to the C-pillars and the large homogenous surface around the Volkswagen badge. Iconic: even without the badge or model name the seventh generation of this best-seller is instantly recognizable as a Golf. And yet every line is new. That applies both to the rear light clusters (with striking L-shaped contours, narrower on the inside and ending at the C-pillar on the outside) and to the tailgate, which reaches much lower down, and the lowest boot sill height in its class (665mm). A horizontal light-refracting edge near the bottom of the tailgate, which continues on the bumper, and the boot sill running parallel below this underline the sportily full width of the new Golf. These elements also correspond to the lines of the now much more pronounced and optically ‘extended’ bumper. The bumper itself is fully painted right down to the bottom, with only the centrally integrated diffuser, which also incorporates the exhaust pipe, kept black.
At 4,255 mm the new Golf is 56 mm longer than its predecessor, while the wheel track has also increased by 59 mm to a new width of 2,637 mm. Since the front wheels are also located 43 mm further forward, the interplay of the new dimensions creates sportier proportions, an improved crash structure and optimized interior space. At the same time, the body has been lowered in height by 28 mm (1,452 mm) – but headroom in the interior is still very good. On the exterior, aerodynamics have also benefited from the reduced height: the vehicle’s frontal area has been made 0.03 m2 smaller and its air drag (cd x A) has been reduced by almost 10 per cent. The Golf BlueMotion, for example, achieves a cd value of 0.27 and is thus one of the best performers in its class. Nonetheless, at 1,799 mm the new Golf has been designed to be 13 mm wider. In parallel, the track widths have been increased by 8 mm in front and 6 mm at the rear. These additional millimeters give the Volkswagen a fuller stance on the road.
Interior space – more end-to-end room
The slight increases in length and width, as well as the increased wheelbase and optimized track widths, have a perceptible effect on space in the interior, which is now 14 mm longer (1,750 mm). Passengers in the back can now enjoy 15 mm more legroom. Shoulder room has increased by 31 mm to 1,420 mm. Elbowroom has gone up by 22 mm to a width of now 1,469 mm. Shoulder and elbow space have also been increased in the back by 30 mm and 20 mm respectively.
The Golf Trendline and the mid-range Comfortline can be ordered with a front passenger backrest that folds fully forward. In addition, the 60:40 split backrest, which is standard on all versions of the new Golf, can also be folded down. When folded, a nearly level cargo floor is created with a length of 1,558 mm; the maximum cargo space length with the front passenger backrest folded down is 2,412 mm. On the Comfortline and above, the Golf also has an opening in the middle of the rear seat backrest for loading long items.
The space concept of the new Golf also exhibits numerous other improvements. Cargo capacity, for example, has grown by 30 liters to 380 liters; the variable cargo floor can also be lowered by 100 mm. Perfection in detail: the bootspace sill height is now just 665 mm (-17 mm) – the best figure in the car’s core market segment. In parallel, the maximum boot width has grown by 228 mm to 1,272 mm. Volkswagen has also increased the width of the bootspace opening: by 47 mm to 1,023 mm.
Styling and controls – sophisticated and intuitive
Significantly more room and even better ergonomics define the driver’s area. Taller drivers in particular will welcome the seat position that has been shifted back by 20 mm; the steering wheel’s adjustment range has also been modified. The pedal distances have been optimised as well thanks to the Modular Transverse Matrix; the space between the brake and accelerator pedals, for example, has increased by 16mm. Another ergonomic improvement: compared to the previous model, Volkswagen has raised the position of the gearbox controls by 20 mm; the gear shift grip now rests better in the driver’s hand.
Tomasz Bachorski, Head of Interior Design: “Every interior element has been redeveloped and redesigned. One noticeable feature here is the wide centre console that is oriented towards the driver, which is more typical of the luxury than the compact class. Never before have the traditionally high levels of objectivity and functionality in the Golf been implemented with such elegance and sophistication.” In the middle of the center console, beneath the switch for the hazard warning lights, is the five- to eight-inch infotainment touchscreen with its menu keys and dials. All information and entertainment systems have been completely redeveloped and updated. For the first time, Volkswagen is introducing a generation of touchscreens with a proximity sensor and a function that reacts to wiping movements by the fingers (wipe and zoom movements as used on smart phones); the graphic design of the interface also corresponds to the new age of intuitive operation.
Located beneath the infotainment module are the well laid-out controls for climate control. This is followed by the lower section of the center console that runs in a line up to the large centre armrest. The consistent design conveys a sense of sophistication of a luxury class model. To the right of the driver are the buttons for the new electronic parking brake and its Auto Hold function. Integrated in front of it is a storage compartment in which the multimedia interfaces (aux-in, USB and optional Apple interfaces) have been integrated. The compartment is also big enough to hold a smart phone.
There is a large storage compartment hidden under the centre armrest that can be adjusted by up to 100 mm in length and five stages in height. This compartment is also of a good size.
For the first time in a Volkswagen, there will also be an inductive link to an external aerial. The mobile phone is placed in the stowage bin in a universal holder where the phone’s antenna gets inductively ‘hooked up’ and connected to the vehicle’s external aerial. This produces the same advantages as with a fixed phone installation:
- Better reception and signal strength because an external aerial is being used.
- Less drain on the mobile phone battery. By linking to an external aerial, the phone only needs minimal power to send and receive.
- Minimal radiation in the passenger compartment.
Tomasz Bachorski again: “Visually distinctive in the interior – along with the centre console is the dashboard body, the upper section of the dashboard that is upholstered with a plastic material that is visually elegant and pleasing to the touch. It is subdivided by a seam that runs across the entire interior width towards the windscreen. Each of the outer areas of the dashboard body fuses homogeneously with the windowsill on each side.” Like the lower area of the dashboard, the lower door trim can also be ordered in a contrasting color. Elegant: the inlays in the door panels have illuminated trim as part of the ambient lighting fitted as standard in the Highline. The switches for the electric windows are ergonomically easy to access in the armrests; located in front of the door handle on the driver’s side is the control for electric mirror adjustment. The door trim panels themselves display the motif of two intersecting curved lines, which logically divide the door trim’s functional areas: armrest, door handle, storage bin and loudspeaker. Tomasz Bachorski:“Elements of the ambient lighting provide for optimum illumination and an elegant atmosphere at night. The new, white lighting of the buttons and switches underlines the premium feeling.”
Seat comfort – ergonomics like in the luxury class
The seats of the new Golf are exceptionally comfortable. All five seating positions have been redesigned in the front and back. The seats exhibit excellent core properties: well-contoured body lines, optimal support for dynamic driving, and a high level of comfort on long trips. These characteristics were achieved by designing the foam contours to properly fit body shapes and by the cold foam cushioning sections’ optimized springing and damping properties. The two higher specification models, the Comfortline and Highline, are equipped with standard two-way lumbar support for the driver and front-seat passenger. The optional electric driver’s seat with 12 different positions offers even greater individual adjustment.
Another new development making its debut in the Golf is the ergoActive seat with extended adjustments for the driver. Along with the familiar seat height adjustment and seat heating, new features for this class of vehicle are adjustment options for seat depth and angle, electric four-way lumbar support and a massage function. The ergoActive seat also offers exceptionally good ergonomic properties, which have already earned it the official AGR seal (‘Healthy Backs’ campaign) in Germany.