It boasts a weight saving of 100kg compared with the old model

Volkswagen has shown the first pictures of the new seventh-generation Golf. The images suggest that VW has produced a carefully judged mixture of continuity and change, moving the Golf's shape on just enough to freshen it up without upsetting fans of one of the automotive industry's most successful ever model lines.

The big changes are under the skin. Past Golfs lent their platforms to a wide range of Volkswagen group models, from everyday workhorses like the Skoda Octavia and the Volkswagen Caddy van to the sporty and glamorous Audi TT but now there is a new approach. The latest Golf uses VW's MQB architecture, already previewed in the new Audi A3; MQB stands for Modularer Querbaukasten (roughly translated – modular toolkit of parts for transverse-engined cars) and is a more flexible architecture than the old platform concept, providing greater scope to alter track, wheelbase and other parameters. That means it can be used for big and small cars and may help address the common observation that Golf-based cars tend to feel a bit samey, regardless of the badge they wear.

MQB and other tweaks produce a weight saving of 100kg compared with the old model, of which 23kg is accounted for by the body-shell alone. The new car is very slightly bigger than the old in every direction except height., and its slightly roomier as well. Inside, there's a new-generation touch-screen infotainment set-up, which on all UK Golfs will incorporate a 5.8-inch colour display; more expensive models with sat-nav will have an eight-inch display. There's an electronic parking brake and a universal phone holder with an inductive aerial which boosts reception, while at the same time reducing the drain on the phone's battery.

One innovation; four driving modes are offered: Eco, Sport, Normal and Individual. These alter parameters such as the engine mapping according to the driver's mood or preferences. A fifth mode, Comfort, is offered on cars with DSG transmissions. Engines are familiar VW sizes but tweaks have produced increased efficiency; particularly notable is the Active Cylinder Technology available on the 140 PS 1.4 TSI model, which shuts down two of the engine's four cylinders under some conditions in order to save fuel. Such technology is not uncommon on V8 or larger engines but unusual in a comparatively small four cylinder power unit.

The car-buying public will get their first chance to see the new Golf in the metal at the Paris Motor Show. UK customers will be able to order the car from October, with the first deliveries taking place in January 2013.

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