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Volkswagen unveils the seventh-generation Golf TSI, TDI

Just weeks ahead of the full reveal at the 2012 Paris Motor Show, Volkswagen gives us a glimpse at the next generation of its Golf compact.

Volkswagen Golf MK 7
The seventh iteration of the VW Golf improves on the previous model without deviating from the established formula. Volkswagen

The Beetle may be an older nameplate, but for many drivers the world over the Volkswagen Golf (and its performance variant, the GTI) is the quintessential VW model. The Golf's combination of style, performance, and flexibility have helped the hatchback to remain a constant favorite. So, it's no surprise that the seventh-generation Golf -- which makes its debut later this month at the 2012 Paris Motor Show -- doesn't deviate too far from the established formula of its six predecessors.

The photos and details released by Volkswagen today detail what will be the European-spec 2013 Golf, but they give us a good idea of what to expect from the North American model when it reaches our shores and dealerships.

For starters, this new Golf will be based on the VW Group's shared MQB platform, which will also underpin the next generation of Audi, Seat, and Skoda compact car models. The Golf MK 7's wheelbase has been extended to 103.8 inches, 2.3 inches longer the previous model's, and its overall length to 167.5 inches. That longer wheelbase should translate into a more planted feel on the highway, but it also means that VW was able to push the front wheels forward to free up more space in the cabin for the front passenger's knees. The new Golf also is 0.8 inch lower and 0.5 inch wider than the sixth generation, but VW has somehow managed to free up 1.2 inches of additional shoulder room in the front and rear seats.

It's longer and wider, but the 2013 Golf is also lighter than the current model by about 220 pounds. Volkswagen cites a more extensive use of high- and ultrahigh-tensile steel in this next Golf with about 51 of those saved pounds in the vehicle's bodyshell itself. However, the automaker was also able to save weight in the air conditioning system (6 pounds saved), the seats (15 pounds saved), the engine itself, the electrical-system wiring, and in other aspects of the car's construction.

Most of these upgrades will be present in the U.S.-spec model, but the engine options announced for the European model may not. The Golf MK 7 will be available with a 1.4-liter turbocharged (TSI) gasoline engine that outputs 140 horsepower and, thanks to cylinder deactivation technology, averages 49 mpg on the European cycle (which uses a different method from the EPA's testing cycle). Also available at the entry level will be a 105-horsepower, 1.6-liter TDI Clean Diesel engine that should net the Golf an Euro-cycle combined average of 62 mpg.

In the cabin, the Golf's infotainment system will be based around a 5.8-inch touch screen that will be standard on even the entry-level Euro-spec Golf models. A premium navigation system will be available which uses a massive 8-inch touch screen, but details are limited outside of the screen size. Expect more details to surface as we approach the 2012 Paris Motor Show.