The Volkswagen's Golf enters its seventh generation at the 2012 Paris Motor show. However, the subtle changes to the hatchback's aesthetic will be lost on all but the most devoted Golf fanatics without a side-by-side comparison.
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Beneath the surface, the new Golf is built on Volkswagen's new MQB front-drive platform, which is shared with Audi, Seat, and Skoda. The new Golf is slightly longer (in both wheelbase and overall length) and wider than the outgoing model.
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GDI and TSI engines
The entry-point engine will be a 1.2-liter turbocharged gasoline mill that outputs 85 horsepower--that'll never see North American highway use--and a 1.4-liter turbo that makes a more respectable 140-horsepower.
A trio of diesel options round out the Golf's European offerings. A 1.6-liter TDI will be available in 90-horsepower and 105-horsepower trims. There will also be a 140-horsepower 2.0-liter TDI which is pictured here.
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Fuel saving technologies
All VW Golf models feature Start-Stop systems to reduce fuel wasted while idling, as well as a brake energy regeneration system. The 1.4-liter TSI engine is unique in that it features cylinder deactivation technology that shuts down two of its four cylinders at low engine speeds, effectively halving the engine's displacement when you don't need it.
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The 1.6-liter diesel Golf gets an estimated 62 mpg on the European cycle. At the other end of the scale, the more potent 1.4 TSI model manages a still-respectable 49 mpg.
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VW has managed to shave 220 pounds off of the enlarged Golf thanks to--among other things--more extensive use of high and ultra-high tensile steel.
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The Golf has never really been lacking in the cabin fit and finish department, but the new generation makes incremental improvements to stay atop of the competition.
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All VW Golf MK7s will feature a 5.8-inch color touchscreen that controls audio sources and other vehicle options.
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The premium in-dash system steps up to a larger 8-inch display. Users are able to swipe to access digital audio sources, hands-free calling, and other vehicle infotainment options. Stepping up to this level also nets a navigation system.
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The Golf will also be available with adaptive cruise control and a collision avoidance system that can automatically brake for you if you're attention lapses. There's also a dynamic headlight system that dims high beams to prevent dazzling oncoming traffic, lane departure warning, and a "Multi Collision Brake" that applies the brakes when a collision is detected to prevent you rolling into another vehicle.