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VW Golf – A New Hope?
Once again England prepares to face old enemy Germany tonight in Berlin for a friendly game of football that promises to be anything but. It reminded me that I am a ripe old age at 41 years old too young to remember our glorious victory in the world cup that happened in July 1966, which was 11 months before I entered this world.
I’m a little concerned that unless Fabio Capello can work his magic soon I may never see a world cup win for England in my lifetime. It got me thinking about the historical moments I’ve seen on TV. These include the coming down of the Berlin Wall, the release of Nelson Mandela, 9/11 and of course Barack Obama’s historic election victory to mention a few. One occasion I vividly remember was when I and my little school friend Colin spent a sunny day in May 1977 queuing outside the Odeon Cinema in Bristol with what felt like most of the population. the World to see the Star Wars film.
We waited all day and finally got to see the film just as it was getting dark. I remember thinking as we sat there excitedly waiting for the curtain to open and clutching a bag of butterkist popcorn that life couldn’t possibly get any better. I watched Star Wars on TV the other day and although it doesn’t have all the amazing CGI effects of a modern sci-fi film the plot of good triumphing over evil is timeless.
I have to admit though that I was a bit confused when the Star Wars sequel started to appear and we learned that the first film was actually the fourth chapter in the lead. I think even the most die-hard fans may have begun to question whether the later installments were made for artistic purposes or to provide a pension plan for George Lucas.
Somehow this brings me around to talking about the latest Volkswagen Golf. I think because we are talking about sequels and Golf 2009 is a continuation of a story that started a long time ago (1974) in a factory far away (well Germany). We are now in the sixth evolution of this new upmarket alternative to the likes of Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra, and just like “A New Hope” the new arrival has been given a makeover for the digital age.
We start with a new highly efficient engine, six-speed gearbox and optional touchscreen control in the 2 liter TDI model. You’ll also find computer-controlled suspension and cruise control that intelligently scans the road ahead for slower traffic and maintains a safe distance accordingly. In stark contrast to the original Golf which only came with a cigarette lighter, the latest model may as well have come from another galaxy.
Its styling isn’t as impressive as many new models and from a distance you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the old Golf and the new one. There is now a crease running along the side of the car, and a new front grille, although these changes are hardly radical. It’s a slightly different story on the inside however. The Golf has a revised interior, which gets more equipment, new materials and more luxurious seats. Most impressive is the new instrument cluster, which has black aluminum-trimmed dials with white backlit lettering, while the steering wheel gets added functionality with new buttons to control the audio system and r computer tripped.
Volkswagen has worked hard to reduce fuel consumption and engine emissions. The 138bhp 2-litre TDI returns nearly 58mpg while CO2 emissions are cut from 159g/km to 129g/km. Fortunately, performance is not sacrificed in this quest for efficiency. The 2 liter TDI is powerful and never feels short of pace, especially when overtaking. This is aided by the optional automated Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) instead of the six-speed manual gearbox. It provides smooth, instant gear changes via paddles mounted on steering wheels, allowing fully automatic movement. The new Golf has a similar chassis to the previous model but feels more solid on the road thanks to Adaptive Chassis Control which automatically optimizes suspension damping and insulates the occupants from rough road surfaces.
You’ll also find additional safety equipment on board the new Golf, including knee airbags for the driver. There’s also a new head restraint system designed to reduce whiplash injuries, and further reassurance comes with the latest electronic stability program. Only time will tell if this chapter of the Golf will be part of automotive mythology in the years to come.
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