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2006 VW Golf
By Matt Michels

Click for detail photo. Since its launch over thirty years ago, the Volkswagen Golf has maintained its position as leader of the hatchbacks. The Mk1 and Mk2 generations established its reputation for being an affordable, well-built, and fun to drive car that set the benchmark for all other hatchback manufacturers.

Unfortunately the Mk3 and Mk4 generations saw a change in direction for the Golf. Their emphasis became comfort and quality rather than driving involvement and reliability. As a result the Golf got progressively bigger, slower, and less fun to drive. In 1998, Ford released the Focus and eventually overtook the Golf in global sales, while Peugeot's 206 overtook the Golf in the European market.

VW realized they were in jeopardy of losing crucial marketshare and had to act. So for the new Mk5 they decided to build an all-new car designed for driver fun and involvement.

The first improvement was to ride and handling in the form of a new chassis. Built on VW Group's A5 platform (Audi A3, VW Passat), the new Golf has 80% more torsional rigidity than its predecessor. The result is both less road noise and vibration, and more precise handling. The A5 platform also employs a new electric power-steering system that is lighter, has lower energy consumption, is free of kickback, and has lower manufacturing cost.

To compete with the Focus and 206, VW abandoned their long running torsion beam suspension and adopted a new, more refined multi-link setup. Although considerably more expensive than the old system, the new geometry allows stiffer lateral suspension with softer vertical compliance. The result is both reduced body roll and improved ride quality. To further aid handling, VW replaced their traditional stiff-springs, soft-dampers setup with soft springs, stiff dampers.

Another new feature of the Mk5 is the line of engines. VW replaced its long running 2.0 and 1.8T engines with a 150hp 2.5 inline-5 as the base, a 200hp 2.0 direct-injection turbo, and a 3.2 VR6 with 4motion all-wheel-drive. Also expect a 175hp 2.5 TDI to be available in limited supply. All these engines will be linked to a 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission with a 6-speed DSG paddle-shift gearbox available on the 2.0T, 2.5TDI, and 3.2 VR6. With a new chassis, suspension, steering system, and drivetrain, the Volkswagen Golf may finally regain its position as leader of the hatchbacks.

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Pictures of the VW Golf
Click pictures to enlarge

Click for detail photo. Click for detail photo. Click for detail photo. Click for detail photo. Click for detail photo.
Click for detail photo. Click for detail photo. Click for detail photo. Click for detail photo. Click for detail photo.

Posted March 22, 2006
Photos courtesy of

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