The new Volkswagen Golf could be cheaper than the current car, according to VW insiders.
At a preview event for the new model, sources told us that due to new high-tech production methods and the use of a modular platform that will underpin a whole range of VW Group models, the new Golf can be produced more efficiently than the current car.
As a result prices are likely to change little when it goes on sale later this year, and could even drop slightly. VW executives said that the Golf is still 'a car for the people' and that it will be affordable. Early indications are that in Germany the entry-level model will cost less than the car it replaces.
VW Golf prices start at 16,425 for the 1.2 TSI 85 S 3dr. The new model will be launched as a 5dr, but three-door models are expected in early 2013. A new GTI model is likely later in the year.
Production of the current Golf hatchback (including the GTI) is due to end in late September. The Golf Cabriolet and Golf Estate (which are built at different factories in Germany and Mexico respectively) remain on sale. A replacement for the estate is likely during 2013, but the Cabriolet is expected to continue until at least 2014.
VW sources confirmed that a new VW Golf Plus - based on the new Golf - is also due. Replacements for the current VW Tiguan and Touran models will also use the same underpinnings and technology and are likely to arrive within 18 months.
New VW Golf interior: first impressions
We've had the chance to sit in the all-new VW Golf and first impressions are positive.
As expected, the styling has evolved subtly, with a simple dashboard design and a centre console that wraps towards the driver. The ergonomics are excellent, with everything sensibly placed and easy to read.
VW says that the range of adjustment for the seats and steering wheel has been increased; there's also a bigger gap between the brake and accelerator pedals and the gearlever sits slightly higher, so it's easier to reach.
The biggest changes are that an electric parking brake operated by a switch between the front seats is now standard. There are also new 'quarterlight' windows ahead of the front doors, so there's a small extra pillar behind the windscreen.
Quality appears to have taken a step upwards, with plush soft-touch coverings for the upper dashboard and doors and sturdy materials elsewhere. The switches and controls have a solid feel, while the fabric-covered door pockets (a carry-over from the current car) and ambient lighting (a new feature) give a classy look.
New VW Golf: equipment highlights
The Golf will be available with a wide range of sophisticated features, including new infotainment systems and high-tech safety kit.
All versions will come with a touch-screen system; this is likely to be monochrome on entry-level models, but full colour for most trims. Screen sizes will range from five to eight inches, with the largest reserved for the top-grade system.
Mid-spec versions and above will have a system that senses when the driver or passenger is about to touch the screen and automatically switches from display to operating mode, highlighting the function that is about to be selected. It also responds to 'swipe' and 'zoom' actions, like a smartphone.
Top-grade entertaintment systems include satellite-navigation, a 64GB hard drive and an internet hotspot.
Safety innovations include a fatigue detection-system, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist and a traffic sign detection.
The new City Emergency Braking Function uses sensors to detect an imminent collision and automatically applies the car's brakes at speeds below 19mph.
There's also a new system called Multicollision Brake that works by automatically applying the brakes after an initial collision in order to minimise any damage or injury in a secondary collision.
Full details of the new VW Golf will be revealed on September 4.