The old and the new
* New inside and out * Engine line-up similar to current model * On sale early 2009...
Trim quality and the fit of interior panels are two things that have improved. VW refuses to admit it dumbed down with the Golf Mark V, but acknowledges that 'other manufacturers came closer'.
VW designer Klaus Bischoff says: 'Now, when you buy a Golf, you get the best quality and perceived quality for touch, feel, smell and even hearing. We've done something for all the senses.'
By sticking with the platform of the Mark V, VW has ensured the new Golf appears reassuringly familiar, even though every external panel and the interior are new.
The wheels are the same distance apart, the angle of the windscreen and the door apertures are unchanged and the expensive independent rear suspension and much of the engine line-up of the Mark 5 are expected to be carried over, although the Mark 6 will no doubt get the group's smoother and quieter new-generation diesels, plus other upgrades.
At this stage VW isn't confirming the engine line-up, the car's weight or any performance, fuel consumption and emissions figures, but it's hard to imagine there won't be some attention-grabbing improvement, plus an ultra-low-CO2 BlueMotion diesel.
Bischoff says the new Golf is quieter than the current one, and also cuts through the air more cleanly to help save fuel.
The new car takes up the same amount of road as its predecessor (it's a little shorter ahead of the front wheels and a little longer in the tail) and has the same roof height, so getting in and out is as easy as ever and space is about as good as it gets for this type of car.
Bischoff says the shoulder line has been pushed out to make the car look a bit more dynamic, and the window line has been lowered so the interior is lighter than in the present car.
There's also a bigger-than-average window in the tailgate, making it easier to see following traffic.