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by Tim Beissmann

The 2011 Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet will be officially unveiled at next week’s Geneva Motor Show ahead of its Australia launch late in 2011.

The Cabrio model reintroduces the body style to the Golf range that was last sold in 2002.

According to Volkswagen, the Golf Cabriolet will simply add to its already wide-ranging model line-up, and not replace either the Eos or the New Beetle Cabrio.

The Eos, despite sharing the Golf Cabrio’s wheelbase, is a longer vehicle styled like the Jetta, and comes with a hard-folding roof.

The Golf Cabrio has a soft-folding roof, which takes just nine seconds to open or close at up to 29km/h. Although it shares the soft-top construction with the New Beetle, Volkswagen believes the two complete in different market segments.

In Europe, the vehicle will be offered with six different turbocharged direct-injection engines, ranging from 77kW to 155kW. The usual combinations of manual and DSG dual-clutch transmissions will be available.

Volkswagen says the Golf Cabrio will be equipped like the standard hardtop Golf, and admits one of the only features not available will be the sunroof.

Styling-wise, the Cabrio is similar to the three-door hatch, although it incorporates a new rear section, lower-profile roofline and a more swept-back angle on the windscreen.

The L-shaped LED taillights are similar to the Golf R performance variant, and bi-xenon headlights will be available as an option.

Safety equipment includes an automatically deploying rollover bar, as well as front, side and driver’s knee airbags (no curtains) and electronic stability control.

Advance sales of the 2011 Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet begin in Germany this week with prices starting at 23,625 euros ($32,500).

Volkswagen Australia’s Karl Gehling told CarAdvice the Golf Cabriolet would arrive in Australia late this year, but could not confirm engines and specification levels.

Mr Gehling said he believed there was demand in Australia for convertible versions of the Golf and New Beetle, as well as the new Eos, which will go on sale locally mid-year.

“We think the Cabrio will find its own unique market,” Mr Gehling said. “It’s a different vehicle to the Eos.”

Last year, Volkswagen sold 985 Eos vehicles and 136 New Beetle Cabrios, making up 11.8 percent of the sub-$80K Sports car segment. The Golf Cabrio will join the same segment, and Volkswagen Australia will be hoping it pushes the brand towards the lead in the category.

The Cabrio was a staple of the Golf range between 1979 and 2002. The Mk1 Cabriolet was launched five years after the original hatch, and was continued throughout the Mk2 phase.

In 1993, an all-new Mk3 Cabrio was launched, replacing the 13-year-old Mk1 model. This was the last major update the Cabrio received, with the only other update being a facelift in 1999 to make it appear similar to the Mk4 version.

Full details of the 2011 Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet will be revealed at Geneva on March 1.




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