The next VW Golf will be safer, more spacious and better equipped than the current Golf.
Volkswagen gave its clearest pointer yet to what we can expect from the all-new Golf - which is due to go on sale in 2013 - at the launch of the new MQB platform. This will eventually underpin all Volkswagen models from the Polo to the Passat, as well as several other models from within the VW Group.
The first model on this new platform will be the new Audi A3, which is due to be unveiled at the Geneva motor show in March.
Using this platform, VW promises that its forthcoming cars will be better looking, more spacious, safer, lighter and more efficient.
By developing a new platform with several common components across all the models, VW has ensured that the cars are easier to build.
Also because the platform is easy to adapt, the cars can incorporate a wide variety of power sources, from conventional petrol and diesel engines to hybrids and all-electric powertrains.
Thanks to that same adaptability VW could also enter new market niches. As proof, they showed off the Cross Coupe, which was based on the Tiguan and unveiled at last years Tokyo motor show.
Through the new strategy, the position of the engines has been standardised across the range; and, because this is farther forward than in current models, VW says it can create better-looking cars with improved crash protection and more cabin space.
The cars will also be more economical, partly because the new engines are more efficient than previous units, and partly because the cars weigh less, thanks to the use of more lightweight components.
The company will also introduce the worlds first mass-market four-cylinder petrol engine with cylinder shut-off. At times of low load, the 1.4-litre unit automatically shuts down two cylinders to save fuel and reduce emissions.
The engine line-up will also include two 1.2-litre units as well as the three-cylinder engines recently introduced on the Up.
Diesel engines include 1.6- and 2.0-litre units, and both are cleaner and more efficient than the old units.
To improve the way the cars drive, front-wheel-drive models such as the Golf will be available with a new VAQ (electronically controlled front-axle transverse differential) system, which is designed to eliminate torque steer.
Engineers also say that they will work to improve on the way the current Golf drives, sharpening its steering and making its brakes more responsive.
The new cars, including the Golf, will also benefit from technology that has previously been seen only in more upmarket models. This will include fatigue detection, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist and a new system called multi-collision brakes.
This works by automatically applying the brakes after an initial collision in order to minimise any damage or injury in a secondary collision, and will be standard on the next Audi A3 and VW Golf.
Also available, will be the proactive occupant-protection system recently introduced on the VW Touareg. This works by automatically priming the safety systems to ensure they work at their most efficient in the event of an accident.
There will also be a new family of infotainment systems across the various models. In the case of Volkswagen cars such as the Golf, they will have an updated version of the current cars touch-screen system.
The revisions will mean the touch-screen works with a gentler touch, while sensors will recognise when it is about to be touched, so that the screen changes immediately from display mode to interaction mode. It will also allow the user to swipe across the screen, as on the latest tablets and smartphones.
Models from the other VW Group brands Audi, Seat and Skoda for example - will use the same system, but with the user interface tailored to each brand. Audi, for instance, will continue with its four-button Quattrologic controls.
We expect the all-new Golf to go on sale in 2013. While this new strategy should make it cheaper to produce, we dont expect it to be any cheaper to buy. Instead, we expect it to cost much the same, but to come with more technology and equipment.