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Surf’s up for Volkswagen!

Supporting acts: VW's Kombi Beach (above) and Eos convertible (below).

‘Lifestyle’ models on their way to help Volkswagen shirk its heavy reliance on Golf

7 Apr 2006

A CLUTCH of hi-tech turbo-diesel engines, some bristling new Golf variants and a number of "lifestyle" models will be squeezed into Australian VW dealerships inside 12 months as part of Volkswagen Group Australia’s attempt to shirk its reliance on the super-successful Golf hatchback.

Golf V comprised a hefty 59 per cent of VGA’s record 15,782 sales last year, but the "surprising" popularity of diesel variants - which represented about half of all Golf sales in 2005, a quarter of recent Polo sales and is expected to rise to an eventual 35 per cent of the VW range - has given new impetus to the company’s diesel push.

For the first time, a turbo-diesel will be the entry-level version of VW’s Passat range, with the all-new mid-sized 2.0 TDI sedan priced $2000 lower than the 2.0T FSI petrol at an attractive $42,990.

However, that will change in about six months when a newer version of VW’s 2.0-litre TDI engine, offering 125kW, comes on stream to replace the 103kW Passat TDI launched last week. It is expected to be priced the same as the turbo-petrol Passat 2.0T FSI sedan at $44,990.

Next month will see the local release of the Caddy Life and Kombi Beach. Based on the new Caddy light commercial - which itself is based on the Golf small car - the five-seater Caddy Life will give VW a representative in the mini-MPV market for the first time.

It will be powered by a 77kW/250Nm 1.9-litre TDI engine, with either five-speed manual or six-speed DSG transmissions, for under $30,000.

The Transporter van-based Kombi Beach people-mover offers a flexible interior that transforms into a camper van, and will be powered by a 96kW/340Nm 2.5-litre TDI engine with the option of either six-speed manual or automatic transmission and 4Motion all-wheel drive.

The Golf range will be capped off in July by the range-topping R32 replacement, this time as a full-time member of the Golf line-up and available in both three- and five-door bodystyles.

Unveiled at the 2005 Frankfurt motor show, the new R32 features 4Motion AWD and is powered by a 184kW/320Nm 3.2-litre V6 to out-power the muscular Golf GTI.

A new-generation oil-burning V6 will continue VW’s turbo-diesel inroads from August, when its Touareg 4WD becomes available with the same 171kW/500Nm 3.0-litre TDI engine that will kick-off Audi’s new Q7 4WD range at about $85,000 from October.

Crafter replaces LT as VW’s large Sprinter commercial van rival from February next year, a month before a facelifted version of the middle-aged Touareg becomes available in Australia.

3 center imageMarch 2007 will also see the local release of the striking Eos convertible (left) - production of which was recently brought forward from July to March 2006 - as a belated successor for the previous-generation Golf cabrio.

Further afield, VGA remains determined to launch the revised version of the brand’s Audi A8-based Phaeton limousine flagship, which will become available from around June 2007.

"we’re still looking very seriously at Phaeton, but we’re waiting for the facelift," confirmed VGA general manager marketing Peter Dierks, who confirmed a mid-2007 on-sale, priced from about $120,000.

Mr Dierks said VW’s new 125kW 1.4-litre Twin Charger engine, which was recently released in the Golf GT in Europe and features both supercharging and turbocharging to boost both low- and high-rpm performance respectively, is likely to eventually replace Australia’s Golf 2.0T FSI variant, which will be sold here as long as it is produced.

"It’s a larger-capacity engine, which is what our market wants," he said. Expect the Twin Charger Golf to arrive as part of a facelifted Golf range in 2008, not long before the current Golf V is replaced by a less-expensive successor in the Golf VI.

Finally, VW’s first compact 4WD - previewed by the 2006 Geneva show’s Concept A - should surface in 2008, possibly dubbed the Beduin.

But while Mr Dierks said the same show’s mid-engined rear-drive Concept R road test was merely a show car, he said the rumoured large sedan dubbed C1 and designed to slot into the range between Passat and Phaeton was more likely to be a Benz CLS-rivalling coupe.

What's coming from Volkswagen:
Caddy Life MPV May
Kombi Beach MPV May
Golf R32 hot hatch July
Touareg V6 TDI variant August
Passat 125kW diesel October
Crafter LCV Feb 2007
Touareg 4WD facelift Mar 2007
Eos convertible Mar 2007
Phaeton sedan June 2007
Golf facelift/Twin Charger 2008
Beduin compact 4WD 2008
Golf VI hatch 2009

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