Paris: VW stays on course in a Greenpeace storm image

Volkswagen is planning a rapid turn-out of new Golf-based models as it continues its seeemingly unstoppable drive towards becoming the world’s No 1 automaker.

Even a Greenpeace demonstration during the VW Paris press conference failed to ruffle the feathers of company executives.

The new Golf, based on the VW Group’s MQB super-versatile architecture, makes its public debut in Paris alongside almost showroom-ready concepts pointing towards the new GTI and Bluemotion variants.

But VW is not content merely to replace its best-selling family of cars. Everything from a new Phaeton limousine at one end if the spectrum to a limited run of XL1 economy specials has been given the nod for production.

Mainstream versions of the new Golf will go on sale towards the end of this year or early in 2013, and will be quickly followed by the GTI – now in two versions (218 or 228bhp) both shovelling out a 70Nm increase in torque, which now stands at 350Nm. They continue to be powered by a 2.0-litre direct-injection turbo engine.

The next Golf Bluemotion 1.6-litre diesel – said to have improved economy of 88.3mpg with lower emissions of 85g/km – will not be long in coming, either. It was this which sparked the protest by Greenpeace agitators hiding in the roof of the show hall. They unfurled a banner against what they see as VW’s intransigence against tighter emissions regulations.

Undaunted, the company’s head of reasearch and development later went on to reveal how the entire Golf-based family will be replaced with MQB- based models. “There will be a full range – Golf estate, 4Motion, Touran and Tiguan,” he said. “The Scirocco has also been very successful and there will be another.”

The one possible exception is that the Eos hard-top cabrio and the soft-top Golf convertible might not both survive. “They are in different classes, but I could imagine that one day they might come together,” said Hackenberg. “The market for cars like the Eos is coming down because of weight. Maybe we should question whether a convertible in the A+ or B- segment (VW Polo-sized) makes sense.”

VW’s other mainstream ranges – Polo and Passat – will also benefit from MQB in future, but the company will also continue to develop cars for the fringe classes.

The Phaeton, a beautifully built limousine that never got the recognition it deserved – probably because it did not have the ‘right’ badge – is up for renewal. “We are working on it. It will have advanced lightweight technology,” says Hackenberg.

And the XL1, the futuristic sub-800kg hybrid powered by an 800cc diesel engine and an electric motor which was revealed in Qatar a couple of years ago, has been sanctioned for a small-scale run next year.

“It is not our No 1 priority and we have still to decide which occasion we will use (to reveal it),” said Hackenberg. “I drove one for 400 or 500 kilometres a few weeks ago and it was fun. I have never been followed so many times. We will build 50, but the technology has been made for a run of 5,000.”