VOLKSWAGEN is hoping a return to basics will help it start winning back some of the fleet business it has lost over the last two years.
Market researchers at Europe’s largest car firm reckoned fans of the trusty previous generation Golf estate would switch over to the Golf Plus, the raised roof hatchback introduced in 2005 as the next-generation hold-all model. But disappointing take-up across every major market proved the planners got it wrong – so now an all-new estate is heading for the showrooms.
The new estate arrives in the UK in August with a choice of three engines – 1.6-litre petrol and 1.9 and 2.0-litre turbo-diesels, and three trim levels – S, SE and, as its name suggests, a more sporty Sport Wagon version. Prices have yet to be finalised, but expect the entry-level model to cost around £14,300.
Vincent Kinner, head of fleet services at Volkswagen UK, told Fleet News: ‘It could take a while for people to appreciate that this new car is a good user-chooser model, but the fact that we’re putting in a Sport Wagon at the top of the range should give it more presence on choice lists. Our total volume for this car will be 2,800 units and our current thinking is that 65% of the sales will be to fleets.’
The Golf offers a 505-litre load space when its seats are in use, rising to 1,550 litres when the rear bench is folded to create a flat floor.
This compares with 482/1,525 litres for the Ford Focus estate and 470/1,550 litres for the Vauxhall Astra.
Equipment levels are not yet finalised, but air-conditioning, alloy wheels, roof rails and CD player will be standard across the range.
Behind the wheel
FORGET the squared-off, utilitarian looks of the past – Volkswagen’s new lower-medium load-lugger is a handsome, swish affair with smooth styling and a distinctive, high-end appearance. Sporting a neat, well-crafted dashboard, comfortable and supportive seats and good detailing, the interior maintains the upmarket air. But where the new Golf really scores is in the space stakes, with masses of stretching room and a long load platform putting it at the top of its class for versatility.
Multi-link rear suspension blends ride quality with neat roadholding for relaxed progress over motorways and cross-country routes. The Sport Wagon, offering 140bhp with the choice of six-speed manual or DSG transmission, is particularly plush – but the 1.9 TDI, which ticks all the boxes for performance and refinement, will be the preferred choice for fleets.
WITH better styling, improved packaging and pricing expected to start at around £14,300, the third-generation Golf estate looks a strong competitor in a 40,000-volume segment dominated by the Focus and Astra.
|Model||1.6 FSI||1.9 TDI||2.0 TDI|
|Max power (bhp/rpm):||102/5,600||105/4,000||140/4,000|
|Max torque (lb-ft/rpm):||109/3,800||185/1,900||236/1,750|
|Max speed (mph):||114||116||127|
|Fuel consumption (mpg):||38.2||54.3||50.4|
|CO2 emissions (g/km):||176||137||148|
|Prices (est):||from £14,300|