Volkswagen: The first test – This is how the VW Golf VII drives

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The first testthis is how the VW Golf VII drives

Volkswagen: The first test - This is how the VW Golf VII drives-first

On a business trip: Ulrich Hackenberg, Head of Development, and the VW Golf VII, which will have its public premiere in Paris next week

Source: Volkswagen

Noble workmanship, sonorous sound: Before the new VW Golf VII is presented in Paris, “Welt” author Thomas Geiger was allowed to test it with a Volkswagen board member in Wolfsburg.

A.n that day in 1973, Ulrich Hackenberg last thought a lot. At that time he was a student in Aachen. He and fellow students went on an excursion to the VW development center in Wolfsburg. Under a tarpaulin he discovered a car that the following year would change the world, or at least the VW world: the Golf.

Today Hackenberg goes in and out of the company. He no longer has to look secretly under any cloths. In the meantime, he is the Group’s Chief Development Officer and host of the huge ideas factory. Much has changed since then, and curious students may have a harder time making their discoveries. But one thing has stayed the same: the Golf, which they say at VW is the ultimate car.

Competition between design and production

He is not only a long-running hit in the VW balance sheet, but also an integral part of Hackenberg’s biography. His work at VW began with generation four, and he led the project for generation five. When the number seven is unveiled at the Paris Salon next week, it will bear his signature as chief developer. Hackenberg personally asks for the first test drive around Wolfsburg.

It starts with a detailed inspection from the outside. The top manager shows the corners and especially the edges of which he is particularly proud. They are pressed razor-sharp into the sheet metal, create contours and testify to the precision in production that is so important to him. Hackenberg says: "This is an ongoing competition between design and production that increases with every generation."

He accepts that the new Golf looks exactly like the old one at first glance. After all, there are millions of customers that VW must not scare off. And finally there is not only traditional. “Only when you look a little longer do you see the many details,” says Hackenberg, speaking of the stretched wheelbase, the flatter roof, the new triangular windows in front of the exterior mirrors and, above all, the tornado line that has been moved under the door handles. "It makes the Golf stand much deeper and richer on the road."

One-piece cockpit

Inside, it is above all the quality that Hackenberg attached great importance to. “You have to feel that you are in good hands in a Golf,” is his credo. The Golf should set standards in the compact class. "He has long since outgrown the golf class."

As an example, Hackenberg cites the cockpit, which now leans a little more towards the driver than before and looks like it is made of one piece from the left air vent down to the center tunnel. Coordinating the individual components in such a way that you don’t notice any differences at the wheel, you can hardly see any joints and there are no color differences despite the different materials, was a decent piece of work. "To do this, we often had to pick up each part."

There is now always a large touchscreen in the center console, which the Lower Saxony group has also put a lot of effort into. Hackenberg relaxed and laid his forearm on the gear knob and his fingers on a specially painted frame under the screen. This not only activates the menu, but also gives the hand the necessary support. "Then you hit the right field almost automatically with your finger without being distracted from the traffic," explains Hackenberg and surfs via navigation or radio as if the monitor were an iPad.

Lines and edges of light

Hackenberg, for whom the new Golf has been an old acquaintance for more than two years, adjusts the seats, adjusts the backrest and mirrors and starts the four-cylinder petrol engine with the start button. It sounds sonorous and even.

While he can hardly keep his hands still because he wants to explain a switch here, show a line there and emphasize an edge of light there, the Golf quickly feeds into traffic and drives smoothly out of town. As the car rolls over potholes and cross joints, Hackenberg raves about the longer wheelbase and the wider track. “That makes the Golf more relaxed and more comfortable to drive,” says the engineer. "That is the basis for more driving pleasure."

This can not only be promoted by a courageous step on the gas, but also by pressing the switch next to the DSG knob. So-called driving profiles can now be called up there, with which the chassis hardens, the engine revs up more spontaneously and the steering becomes more difficult, says Hackenberg.

But there is also a driving profile that is more of a savings profile. “We want to use this to exhaust all potential in the car,” says the boss, explaining why the automatic air conditioning is now shifting down a gear. This is also obviously necessary if you want to save up to 23 percent fuel.

Democratization of technology

In addition to the switch for the driving profile, there are dozens of other buttons and controls. They are all easy to see and easy to use. But with almost a dozen assistance systems from parking robots to automatic distance control, you have to get an overview first.

“We have never had so much technology in a Golf as today,” says Ulrich Hackenberg. When there is talk of the democratization of technology when it comes to equipment options such as the radar sensors of the cruise control, the parking robot or active lane guidance, he may think back to his student days in the 1970s.

"Back then, the golf was out of my reach," he admits. That is why it took until the end of the decade for the student to be able to afford at least one old, first-generation used car. After that, however, there was always a Golf in front of the door, reports the board of directors from its PS biography. “At some point we actually had every generation in the family. Even if it was just the second car for my wife. "

Costs were reduced by 20 percent

Even today the golf is not a bargain. But at least it didn’t get any more expensive. When the new Golf goes on sale on November 10th, it will cost exactly the same as its predecessor at 16,975 euros. Hackenberg does admit that the “modular transverse construction kit” specially developed for the Golf reduces costs by 20 percent.

But for those who would have expected a price reduction in view of this, the board of directors would like to point out the additional content: "We immediately invested a lot of the money saved back in the car." Hackenberg believes that customers would not tolerate any restrictions when it comes to golf: "A golf course must be balanced and score points in every discipline."

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