ALTHOUGH you'd never know it, this is the new Volkswagen Golf, sales of which start in the UK at the end of this year. Despite looking almost identical to the current Golf, it is different in almost every way. The suspension and many of the engines are borrowed from the Audi A3. They include a brace of 1.8-litre 20-valve engines - one turbocharged - which power the two GTI models.

The new Golf is longer and roomier than the current Golf and boasts important improvements in both safety and build quality, says VW. The base engine is a new 1.4-litre 16-valve 75bhp unit. There's also a 150bhp VR5, and three direct-injection diesels, including the excellent 110bhp turbodiesel used in the Passat and Sharan.

VW has carried over the styling theme because, it says, that's what Golf customers want. Prices haven't been announced yet, but a slight increase (the current Golf starts at just under pounds 11,000) is expected.

This is the fourth-generation Golf. First announced in 1974, for much of its career the Golf has been Europe's best-selling car.

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