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by Jez Spinks

The seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf has been launched in Australia with a revised range offering improved fuel efficiency, more technology and stronger value.

Germany’s famous small car starts from $21,490 before on-road costs, $500 less than the previous entry model.

The new base model Volkswagen Golf also comes with a more powerful engine, a 90kW 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that replaces the 77kW 1.2-litre turbo.

The 90kW 90TSI is one of three new engines powering the new, streamlined Golf line-up, joined by a 103kW petrol turbo and a 110kW turbo diesel.

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The engines all come standard with stop-start and improved fuel consumption by between eight (diesel) and 16 per cent, with the turbo diesel, which costs from $34,490, breaking the 5.0 litres per 100km mark with an official combined figure of 4.9L/100km.

The 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel also increases power over its predecessor, climbing from 103kW to 110kW, while its torque output is unchanged at 320Nm.

Volkswagen says the Golf’s petrol engines set the benchmark for fuel efficiency in the small car segment.

The entry Volkswagen Golf 90TSI uses 5.7L/100km with a six-speed manual or 5.4L/100km with a six-speed DSG dual-clutch auto that pushes the price up to $23,990.

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The more expensive petrol Golf, the $31,990 103TSI available with the DSG gearbox only, offers the best of both worlds: more power, with 103kW, and better economy, at 5.2L/100km. It also offers 250Nm of torque compared with the 200Nm of the 90TSI.

The 103TSI is the fastest of the Volkswagen Golf range with a claimed 0-100km/h sprint of 8.4 seconds, with the 110TDI in the middle at 8.6 seconds, followed by the 9.3sec of the 90TSI (in both manual and DSG).

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Three trim levels are available though only the entry Volkswagen Golf has the option of an alternative specification – the mid-range Comfortline.

Comfortline carries a $3500 premium but brings 16-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, front and rear parking sensors, rain-sensing wipers, and a rear-view camera.

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Standard feature highlights of the base Volkswagen Golf include seven airbags, 15-inch steel wheels, auto hold function, electric handbrake, cruise control, Bluetooth, trip computer, and 5.8-inch colour touchscreen.

The Volkswagen Golf 103TSI and Golf 110TDI are both offered only in the high-grade Highline spec. Highline extras include 17-inch alloys, satellite navigation and sports seats.

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Volkswagen has further reduced complexity in the Golf range by limiting the number of options for the range.

An automatic gearbox and metallic paint, for example, are the only options for the Golf 90TSI base model.

Comfortline additions are restricted to a Driver Assistance Package that costs just $1300 and includes an array of driver aids such as adaptive cruise control, front assist with emergency brake, proactive occupant protection system, parallel parking assist, and driving profile selector, the latter allowing drivers to select between Eco, Sport, Normal and Individual modes.

For the Highline, a panoramic sunroof ($1850), bi-xenon headlights ($2150) and Vienna leather upholstery ($2950) are cost options.

Metallic paint, which is standard on the rival Mazda 3, costs $500 for all models.

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The latest Volkswagen Golf is the first all-new generation since the 2003 Golf Mk5. The Mk6 was a heavily upgraded version that used a significant number of carryover parts, including the platform.

The new Golf is the first Volkswagen to go on sale in Australia utilising the company’s new ‘MQB’ modular architecture that will underpin the vast majority of future VW Group vehicles – including those from sister brands such as Audi and Skoda.

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The Mk7 is 56mm longer than the Mk6 that was one of the shortest models in the small car class. Other key dimension changes are a height reduction of 28mm and width reduction of 13mm.

It’s lighter than before, helped mainly by a body-in-white (main skeleton) paring 23kg. The wheelbase, previously the shortest in its segment, also stretches – by 59mm to 2637mm. Boot space increases by 30 litres to 380L.

All Volkswagen Golfs sold in Australia come only with the more sophisticated multilink rear suspension used by previous recent models. Volkswagen has introduced a cheaper torsion beam for the Golf for some markets.

The new Volkswagen Golf GTI will arrive later in 2013 locally, with a new version of the flagship, all-wheel-drive Volkswagen Golf R confirmed for 2014.

2013 Volkswagen Golf range

  • Volkswagen Golf 90TSI manual – from $21,490
  • Volkswagen Golf 90TSI DSG – from $23,990
  • Volkswagen Golf 90TSI Comfortline – from $24,990
  • Volkswagen Golf 90TSI Comfortline DSG – from $27490
  • Volkswagen Golf 103TSI DSG Highline – from $31,990
  • Volkswagen Golf 110TDI DSG Highline – from $34,490