Volkswagen Golf: Tee time in Geneva
The world's most economical production car ever is the star of the show on the vast Volkswagen stand.
Golfs everywhere. That's all you need to know about the Volkswagen stand at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show. Well, almost: There's a lot of other stuff, too. But you could be forgiven for thinking VW has turned back into a one-car company from all the Golf variants being revealed here.
We have regular Golf. Golf GTI. Golf GTD. Golf wagon. Golf Bluemotion. An electric Golf. A Golf with an R styling pack. It's quite a showcase, and it will have people spending hours on the show stand just trying to work out what's what. And that's a good thing for VW.
In between all things Golf are some real groundbreakers. Chief among these is the Volkswagen XL1, the world's most fuel-efficient car ever. You can bet some of its technology will eventually trickle down to the all-important Golf global roller.
2013 Volkswagen XL1
What is it? The XL1 combines a diesel electric plug-in hybrid drivetrain with super-slippery aerodynamics and an ultralightweight design. It will carry two people in comfort, with some luggage, while emitting as little as 21 grams per kilometer of carbon dioxide. It's the world's first "one-liter" car, which means it can travel 100 kilometers — 62 miles — on just a single liter of fuel.
What's hot? It's impressive enough that VW has managed to engineer this vehicle at all, let alone put it into limited production. The fuel economy and efficiency are the key features, but we love everything about the XL1 — from the way it looks to what it's made from. It even has cameras for wing mirrors, a feature that we've seen on countless concept cars over the years and that has never made it into production.
What's not? Some environmental naysayers will no doubt bemoan the use of a diesel engine here. Diesel produces more harmful particulates than gasoline, making it less "green" overall as a fuel. That said, the XL1 wouldn't achieve what it does with any other fuel.
How much and when? VW won't deny or confirm any further details about the XL1, but it does say it will be made using "handcrafting-like production methods." Our interpretation: It's gonna be expensive.
Anything else I should know? A midmounted 0.8-liter 2-cylinder TDI turbodiesel engine works in harmony with the electric motor to provide 68 horsepower, driving the rear wheels via a 7-speed DSG automatic transmission. Zero to 62 mph takes 12.7 seconds; top speed is electronically limited to 99 mph. Thanks to the battery pack up front, which you can charge at home, the XL1 can cover 31 miles on electric power alone.
2013 VW Golf GTI Mk7
What is it? A concept version of the Mk7 VW Golf GTI was previewed at the 2012 Paris Motor Show during the launch of the all-new Golf range. Here at Geneva, the production version has arrived — and, surprise surprise, it's no different. What is interesting is this introduction of a new, more focused GTI Performance variant.
What's hot? This version gets an additional 10 horsepower and has a 155-mph top speed, bigger brakes and a front differential lock. It sounds like a much more focused GTI to us — even if the visual differences are minor.
What's not? If you're familiar with the red-pinstripe, twin-exhaust style of the current Golf GTI, only the novel red stripe in the headlights of this one will raise eyebrows. Even the 220 horsepower of the 2.0-liter turbo engine has only 10 ponies more than the previous one.
How much and when? The new Golf GTI will go on sale in Europe in May, but there's no word on a U.S. release date — yet. Similarly, the price has yet to be announced, but expect it to be around $25,000.
Anything else I should know? Engine geeks will note the 2013 Golf GTI Mk7 has a new engine: The EA888 unit was developed by Audi and incorporates both direct and indirect injection, among other innovations. The standard car accelerates from zero to 62 mph in 6.5 seconds; the Mk7 trims this to 6.4 seconds.