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Volkswagen Golf GTI
(2006) - Small Yet Big

Volkswagen Golf GTI cutaway - click to enlarge

The first-generation Golf dating from 1974 had been endowed with this uniqueness from its inception. When the number 1 was presented to the press at Munich in May 29 years ago, the original generation already bore the typical features that would immediately make it a bestseller: the dynamic C-pillar resembling the drawn string of a bow, the unequalled variability in the segment at the time, the lively engines and, last but not least, the extremely safe, neutral chassis complete with front-wheel drive were impressive all along the line. The new Golf has all the ingredients to continue in the successful footsteps of its predecessors: a clear plus in terms of dynamics, spaciousness, safety, quality and fascination make it an all-round talent for millions of people from all walks of life.

It is an established fact that the body of the new Golf has increased in size, safety and quality. A major aspect in this respect is the substantial improvement in rigidity. The dynamic rigidity of the body has been increased by 15% in torsion and 35% in flexion; the static torsional rigidity of the body (25,000 Nm/°) has been improved by no less than 80% (!), which is the best value in the segment.

Volkswagen Golf GTI cutaway - click to enlargeIrrespective of the safety offered, the high level of rigidity does not come at the detriment of the body weight. It has rather been achieved through systematic lightweight construction. Particularly effective lightweight construction measures worth emphasising are the improved join techniques involving laser welding and the optimised layout of the member structure. There has again been a significant increase in the proportion of high-strength body panels used. The net result is a significant plus in terms of body strength, crash safety and comfort whilst optimising weight. For example the laser-welding process: 140 special robots ensure the high body rigidity of the Golf, among other things, by means of laser-welded seams with a total length of 70 metres, as compared to five metres in the predecessor.

The new Golf is essentially characterised by a highly aerodynamic basic body shape. The preconditions for this aerodynamic body shape have been established among other things by defined retreats in the front and rear ends, extremely small shut lines and joint dimensions and the fitting of the windows and headlights flush with the body. In addition, the aerodynamically optimised door mirrors and the trim panels also developed in wind tunnels on the underside of the car make a significant contribution to the drag coefficient of CW = 0.32.

The 2.0 FSI is recommended as the new top-of-the-range engine among the FSI powerplants. This four-valve engine delivers 150 bhp (at 6,000 rpm) and provides remarkably sporty performance. The Golf 2.0 FSI reaches a top speed of 128 mph, accelerates to 60 mph in 8.6 seconds and uses on average just 7.2 litres of fuel--a consumption figure which even a diesel engine would be proud of. The Golf 2.0 FSI comes as standard with a six-speed gearbox. The six-speed automatic gearbox with Tiptronic function is also available as an option to this engine.

Volkswagen Golf GTI cutaway - click to enlargeTo power the generation V Golf GTI, Volkswagen is using a newly developed 2.0 liter FSI turbo engine. The 200 bhp direct injection petrol unit with a high-compression ratio of 10.5:1 makes an ideal GTI engine thanks to its dynamic torque curve (206 lb-ft between 1800 und 5000 rpm). With a standard six-speed gearbox, the four cylinders accelerate the Golf GTI to 62 mph in just 7.2 seconds. The GTI goes from 37 mph to 62 mph in 5th gear in only 7.5 seconds and reaches its maximum at 146 mph. The Euro 4 engine has an average fuel consumption of a frugal 8.0 liters per 100 kilometers. The extremely quick dual clutch gearbox (DSG) for uninterrupted power in gear changes is available as an option. It enables the Golf GTI to charge to 62 mph in 6.9 seconds.

The six-speed manual gearbox features a magnesium selector housing, cable control and very short shifting strokes. A "3-band" synchromesh in the lower gears guarantees maximum shifting comfort. Optimisation of details such as for example reduced-friction smooth-running bearings has helped to further increase gearbox efficiency and further reduce engine fuel consumption. The gearbox has a hydraulic dry single-plate clutch with a vibration-isolating dual-mass flywheel.

The six-speed automatic gearbox (Tiptronic) of the Golf is a real innovation. Up to now Volkswagen has been the only manufacturer in the world to offer a transversally mounted six-speed automatic gearbox at the front in this segment. The shift programs adapt automatically to driving conditions (e.g. driving uphill or towing a trailer). Alternatively, gears can be selected manually by means of a Tiptronic function (+/-). The extremely sporty shift program "S" provides even more agility.

The large effective gearbox spacing results in improved acoustic properties, fuel consumption and acceleration figures in comparison with four- or five-speed automatic gearboxes. The maximum torque capacity of this automatic gearbox is more than 300 Nm. In the interests of easy serviceability, the gearbox is filled with a fluid which does not have to be changed (lifetime fill).

Volkswagen Golf GTI cutaway - click to enlargeThe most innovative gearbox in the world at present is known as DSG® or automatic direct shift gearbox. It combines in a fascinating way the comfort of an automatic gearbox with the agility and economy of a manual gearbox. The DSG® also has six forward gears. As one of its outstanding design features, the transversally mounted gearbox has two wet clutches (higher thermal load tolerance than dry clutches) with hydraulically regulated pressure. So-called clutch C1 operates the odd gears (plus the reverse) while C2 operates the even gears. This gearbox unit is essentially two gearboxes in one. This substantial level of clutch management is required because there is no longer the typical interruption of tractive force for automatic manual gearboxes when changing gear. An incomparably dynamic and at the same time comfortable gearshift feel is conveyed under conditions of supreme comfort.

In parallel with its fully automatic mode, the DSG® has a Tiptronic function, which allows manual gearshifts. Both modes convey a gearshift feel which is characterised by not only absolute comfort but also extreme pleasure when changing gear. Drivers with sporting aspirations experience for the first time that the gears are changed as if by the touch of a button. By recording the wheel speeds via ABS, the gearbox control unit also ensures for example that there are no unwanted upshifts in corners.

Essentially, the engine connected to the DSG® always runs in the optimum torque range because every gear generates tractive force immediately. No less crucial is the fact that the new gearbox delivers an extremely high level of agility while maintaining the consumption figures of a manual gearbox. The acceleration and top speed figures are virtually identical.

Volkswagen has configured the new, dynamic safety chassis so it is just as sporty as comfortable. A much-improved suspension-strut-type axle is used at the front and a newly developed multilink axle is used at the rear. Thanks to the multilink axle (four-link suspension), handling and driving comfort have been decisively improved. Active safety also benefits from the new axle configuration. As inclined dampers with oval auxiliary springs are also used in the new Golf, the through-loading width in the luggage compartment has been enlarged. The optimised front axle provides better handling dynamics in corners through a reduction in lateral inclination and the improved response of the anti-roll bars. In addition to that, the more precise wheel location and optimised suspension response contribute to a noticeable improvement in overall comfort.

Handling and comfort have been optimised by an electromechanical steering system which not only offers power assistance as a function of road speed, but also contributes significantly to straight-line stability. The fuel consumption of the Golf has also been reduced by approximately 0.2 litres through the new steering.

The new Golf is equipped as standard with the latest generation of ESP and "Dual Brake Assist". A, likewise newly designed, brake system with optimised cooling provides the basis for excellent deceleration values. All in all, the Golf chassis offers an extremely successful synthesis of driving comfort across all classes while at the same time achieving highly dynamic steering and handling performance.

The central development goal for the Golf's chassis was clearly to bring about an as yet in this vehicle class unrealised alliance of cross-class driving comfort and ultimate handling performance. Handling performance should also be characterised by outstanding driving safety and exact precision with high levels of agility.

Volkswagen Golf GTI cutaway - click to enlargeThe ideal preconditions for implementing these goals have been created through the use of a suitably improved suspension-strut-type front axle with lower A-arm and the completely new four-link rear suspension. Because it has been possible to implement all the requirements optimally and conclusively with these axle concepts.

The dynamic character of a vehicle is determined substantially by the design of the rear axle. Providing outstanding handling dynamics while simultaneously maintaining high levels of driving comfort inevitably necessitates the use of a costly multilink design. This is because, in the case of the multilink axle, longitudinal and transversal dynamics can be configured specifically and virtually independently of each other.

The steering effect of the axle is configured to be load-dependent. The different requirements depending on the load state have been implemented in the best way possible by polished kinematics/elastokinematics: slight toe-in steering at the outer wheel promotes agile and stable handling performance at low load. Heavier toe-in steering at high load ensures a level of driving stability that has not been attained before in this class. The high transversal rigidity of the axle in combination with the lateral-force-understeering learning effect of the axle for the laden vehicle provide the optimum basis for high driving stability.

The new Golf exhibits extremely harmonious steering performance. And there's more: it conveys a distinctive steering feel, from which the driver derives increased safety and pleasure while driving. This feeling of safety and confidence in the steering wheel can be put down to the newly developed electromechanical power steering (EPS). On top of numerous dynamic benefits, the new steering system also reduces fuel consumption: because, in contrast to a conventional hydraulic solution, the electromechanical system only "works" in the event of a steering angle, average consumption in real driving drops by roughly 0.2 litre.

In addition, the "self-learning" steering also features a straight-line correction function. Background: the system itself recognises inclined road angles and countersteers accordingly. The straight-line correction function thus provides a significant increase in comfort and convenience as the driver is able to keep the Golf on course in a relaxed manner without exerting steering force.

The fifth-generation Golf is equipped with a newly developed brake system. Integral to the brake system here -and standard for the marque -is ABS plus ESP complete integrated Dual Brake Assist. The brake system is notable for its outstanding stability, ease of operation, short response times and generally extremely short braking distances. The development team has succeeded in resolving the design conflict of having supremely quick brake response with simultaneously excellent proportioning by introducing a newly designed 10-inch brake servo.

Ventilated disc brakes are deployed on the front axle of all the Golf versions. Depending on the engine type, these brakes range in size from a 15-inch disc (diameter: 280 mm) to a 17-inch disc (diameter: 345 mm) for the top-of-the-range engines. The brake discs on the rear axle in the basic version have a diameter of 255 millimetres while for the most powerful engine solutions the diameter increases to 286 millimetres.

Brake response is rounded off to perfection by a new ESP generation too. The Electronic Stabilisation Program has a range of new features which have a direct and positive effect on the active safety of the new Golf.

The Golf generation I was launched in 1974 and is still available today, albeit extensively optimised, as an economically priced entry-level model in South Africa parallel to the current model range.

Volkswagen Group © 2005

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Volkswagen Golf GTI

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