As the countdown begins to the local launch of the VW Golf 5 next month, sources have told that the new range will no longer offer a station wagon, but there will be a 4x4 in 2005.

As the countdown begins to the local launch of the VW Golf 5 next month, sources have told that the new range will no longer offer a station wagon, but there will be a 4x4 in 2005.

Volkswagen SA landed a contract with parent company VW to manufacture right-hand drive Golf 5 cars for export to the Far East and invested R750 million to gear up its Uitenhage plant.

In the meantime, there has been much excitement on the local market ahead of the arrival of the fifth-generation of the iconic Golf. The car is significantly bigger than its predecessor, 24 mm wider, 41 mm higher and 55 mm longer. There is more interior space, with 52 mm added to the rear seat legroom and 24 mm to the rear head room (8 mm more in front). The luggage compartment now holds 350 litres.

The Golf will be available in three- and five-door versions, but not as a station wagon. According to a source at Volkwagen AG, the Wolfsburg manufacturer regards the compact station wagon market as “virtually dead”. However, Volkswagen will be producing a vehicle called the Golf Plus – essentially a five-door Golf V that offers more space by virtue of a higher roof, a rear end that is 68mm longer and has an extra rear window in the C-pillar.

The MPV-styled Golf Plus and the recently-launched Touran, will together perform the role that the Golf 4 Estate did in the Volkswagen’s previous lineup. Although the vehicle will not be offered in the initial South African model lineup (it is expected to reach the German market by late 2004), it will be powered by either a 1,6- or two-litre FSI petrol powerplant and a TDI diesel (probably the 1,9-litre or two-litre) should also be available.

Much has been written about the Golf’s evolutionary styling. According to the manufacturer, the bodyshell's static rigidity value is 80 per cent higher. The Golf has new, dynamic safety suspension settings. At the front, the spring strut suspension layout has been optimised for accurate directional guidance and stability. At the rear, a new multi-link suspension layout has been developed.

Volkswagen said that the Golf 5’s handling and ride quality have been improved by a new form of electro-mechanical power steering, which provides a degree of power assistance that matches the car's road speed. Standard features are ESP electronic stabilisation programme and a brake assist device.

The safety features include six airbags, five head restraints (of active pattern for the front seats), lap-and-shoulder seat belts, a new type of safety steering column and a pedal assembly that yields to minimise the risk of injury in the event of a crash.

The seating has the option of four-way electric lumbar support (integrated into the electrically adjustable seat) and there is also an independent heater for use when the car is at a standstill. In addition to the 60:40 split rear seat backs, which can be folded down as a standard feature, an optional front passenger's seat back folds forward for additional load-carrying capacity.

Inside, there is optional Climatronic automatic air conditioning, which has separate controls for the driver and front passenger. If the car is reversed, it switches to the recirculated-air mode. If the windscreen washer is operated, the intelligent control system interrupts the fresh-air supply immediately.

Meanwhile, reported late last year that sales of compact 4x4s were expected to reach one million per annum in Europe over the next five years and several manufacturers, including BMW, Mercedes, Renault, Volkswagen, Fiat, Saab, Alfa and Volvo wanted to cash in. At the time, Volkswagen was planning its own small off-roader equipped with the 4Motion all-wheel system. The model was codenamed Marrakech and built on the Golf V platform… now our sources say that the upcoming car (pictured here) will be dubbed the Golf 5 Freestyle 4x4.

Read about the new 147 kW Golf 5 GTI, fitted with a turbocharged two-litre FSI powerplant, in the July issue of CAR – on sale now. The GTI is expected in South Africa early next year.

Original article from Car