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Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet (2012)

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VW Golf Cabriolet

Like the more than 680,000 units of previous VW Golf cabriolets built, the new Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet also has a classic soft top - that is, a fabric top. Why fabric and not steel as on the Eos? A glance at the new model is telling: at a length of 4,246 mm, the Golf Cabriolet has a significantly more compact construction than the 4,423 mm long Eos. The two vehicles take fully independent approaches to styling, positioning and cabriolet design.

The top of the Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet

Although Volkswagen is using a fabric top on the Golf, the four-seater is one of the quietest of cabriolets. Its soothing quiet ride is attributable to the sophisticated design of the fabric roof as well as new window and door seals. Wind noises in the high frequency range above 5,000 Hz are perceived as especially annoying, since they make it difficult hold a conversation while driving (articulation index). Volkswagen examined this articulation index in-depth and evaluated experiences in other vehicles. The results: the Golf Cabriolet actually sets new standards for acoustics in cabriolets.

The soft top itself consists of a linkage, a roofliner, insulating filler layer throughout and exterior cover. Perfection in everyday practicality: the development team designed the joints of the longitudinal seams of the exterior cover fabrics (centre panel and two side panels) so that they serve as an additional drip rail. Perfection in aerodynamics: mounted between the longitudinal frames of the top linkage are a total of 4 roof cross bows and the so-called front roof bow (the first large transverse element behind the windscreen frame). In turn, the soft top is joined to the roof bows by screw-fastened fabric retention strips. Consequently, even at higher speeds, the fabric roof does not fill with air. And that has a positive effect on aerodynamics.

VW Golf Cabriolet (2012)

2012 Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet

When the roof is stowed, the upper surface of the front roof bow covers the top surface of the storage box. This eliminates the need for a separate cover. The results: the standard fully-automatic electro-hydraulic top opens (9.0 seconds) and and closes (11.0 seconds) faster. In addition, it does not need to descend as deeply into the larger bootspace (250 litres with roof up or down).

The top is operated from a central switch on the centre console. Opening and closing are even possible while driving - at speeds up to 30 km/h. Two hydraulic pumps activated by a central switch generate the necessary pressure. Even in this area, special care was taken to ensure that the least possible noise is generated; for example, the hydraulic unit is enclosed by insulation. Unlatching and latching of the Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet's soft top is handled by an electromechanical locking system. It operates fully automatically. This means that no additional manual unlatching or latching is necessary. The system senses, via 2 microswitches, whether the roof is completely opened or closed, and it informs the driver of the OK status by an acoustic signal and a visual message (in the multifunction display).

To ensure a good view behind the car, the top's heated rear glass window was designed to be especially large for a cabriolet; it is joined to the soft top by what is known as high-frequency welding.

Safety in the Golf Cabriolet

Rollover protection: Since 1979, when the first Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet was presented, all generations of this model series have had a roll bar. That had to be, because in the early years of the Golf Cabrio automatically deploying rollover protection systems had not yet been invented. When the first such systems appeared at the end of the 1980s, they were hardly suitable for affordable cars such as a Golf Cabriolet. This changed in 2003, when Volkswagen presented the New Beetle Cabriolet with rollover protection that could be deployed from behind the rear seats. The system was modified for the Eos, and - in its latest development stage - it now protects occupants of the Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet as well.

The rollover protection element implemented in the Golf races upward behind the rear headrests within 0.25 seconds of the vehicle exceeding a predefined transverse acceleration or tilt angle. The system's two rollover modules consist of one fixed aluminium profile and one moveable aluminium profile within it that is pretensioned with a spring. The inner profile is held in its rest position by a magnetic switch. When triggered by the airbag controller in reaction to an impending rollover, the solenoid opens a holding detent and releases the inner profile. While it shoots upward, a support detent overruns a toothed track mounted to the inner profile and prevents the inner profile from dropping downward.

The highlight of the system redesigned for the Golf: the 2 deployable modules were designed to be significantly more compact. For the first time on a Volkswagen cabriolet with deployable rollover protection, it was possible to implement a cargo pass-through with a width of 526 mm and a height of 381 mm, including a folding rear seatback. Previously, there was just a ski pass-through in this area.

Body reinforcements: The Golf Cabriolet offers maximum all-round safety thanks to its rollover protection system, a reinforced windscreen frame and numerous other structural modifications (underbody, side panels, crossmembers, doors). Due to its numerous reinforcements, the 4.25 metre long, 1.78 metre wide and (top up) 1.42 metre tall Golf Cabriolet also exhibits extreme torsional rigidity. Some of these reinforcements are visible when the cabriolet is viewed from below, such as when the Cabrio and a "normal" Golf stand side by side on a raised platform. In a visual comparison, the observer can see significant differences in the underbodies. In front, the cabriolet has an engine enclosure made of aluminium; together with its mounting brackets, which increases rigidity. In addition, the engine mount, acting as a vibration damper, adds refinement at the front end. On each side of the car, 2 lateral reinforcements in the sill area and 2 diagonal braces, front and rear, as well as the reinforced rear subframe joint lead to further gains in rigidity and a significant reduction in resonant body vibrations.

What is referred to as the coefficient of static torsional rigidity reaches a value of over 13,500 Newton metres per degree; the first resonant torsional frequency lies above 17.5 Hz - first-class for a cabriolet. And this rigidity, which is also a crucial factor for optimal driving stability and driving comfort, is quite noticeable. Meanwhile the galvanised body protects the car from rusting.

Cabriolet-specific airbags: The protective systems on the Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet are completed by reinforcements in the doors and standard front and side head-thorax airbags. The latter are specially designed for a cabriolet, since of course it is impossible to mount side head airbags in the roof area. The head-thorax airbags integrated in the lateral sections of the seatbacks therefore deploy next to the driver and front passenger over the entire interior height of the Golf Cabriolet. A standard knee airbag has also been incorporated on the driver's side. In conjunction with the safety belt, this airbag absorbs energy from the pelvic area and the legs, which leads to reduced occupant loading. Taking it further: thanks to the knee airbag, the driver is integrated in the vehicle's deceleration mode sooner via the thighs and pelvis. This initiates upper body rotation precisely, so that the driver's airbag can make contact with and support the upper body at an optimised angle. The knee airbag's mode of operation illustrates the true complexity of the networking of safety systems.

Styling of the VW Golf Cabriolet

Front end: Viewed from the front, this cabriolet is of course a typical Golf. Nonetheless, the cabriolet has an even sportier image from this perspective, because of the swept-back windscreen. An especially dynamic image results when the Cabrio is ordered with the optional bi-xenon headlights. In this case, the daytime running light formed by 15 LEDs is automatically integrated in the dual headlight housing.

Rear: The smoked LED rear lights were adapted from the three- and five-door Golf. Naturally, designers and engineers redesigned the rear section itself. The cabriolet's bootlid extends low into the bumper, and it swings far upward, making it easy to stow suitcases or shopping items. An elegant chrome trim strip forms a visual contrast between the lower edge of the soft top and the bootlid; this continuous chrome strip extends up to the A-pillars.

Side profile: In side profile, 3 styling characteristics of the cabriolet are especially appealing to the eye: the more swept-back windscreen, the visually very short boot and the soft top integrated in these style lines. When the soft top is down, the Golf Cabriolet has an elegant, extended look. With the top up, the compact and crisp styling lines around the imaginary C-pillars and the boot reflect the unmistakable character of the previous model and transfer it to contemporary times - spanning over an entire decade.

As standard, the Golf Cabriolet leaves Volkswagen's Osnabrück factory with weight-optimised 16-inch steel wheels with attractive full wheel covers and 205 tyres. Five different alloy wheels are also available as options (one 16-inch, three 17-inch, one 18-inch).

Interior of the Golf Cabriolet

Very clearly - the cabriolet version of the Golf follows the high styling and material quality standards of the classic hardtop Golf 1:1 in its interior. This results in a level of sophistication that is otherwise only offered in significantly more expensive cabriolets. Like the Eos before it, the Golf sets itself apart from many other cabriolet cars in the compact class in one key aspect of its interior: the windscreen frame is refreshingly short, optimising the Cabrio feeling. In addition, the Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet offers the largest interior length in its class. Guests in the rear will especially notice the 833 mm of effective legroom.

Similar to the design implemented in the Eos, the top activation switch is integrated in the centre console between the driver and passenger seats. Redesigned features include the rear bench seat and seat upholstery materials. The Golf Cabriolet also has a practical Easy Entry function of the front seats as standard; this makes it easier for rear passengers to enter and exit the car.

There are practical bag hooks in the side panels of the 250 litre boot; located right next to the hooks are the remote latch release mechanisms for folding the 50:50 split rear seatback. When the seatback is folded, this adds additional stowing capacity thanks to the very large pass-through opening.

Democratisation of the cabriolet

Back in 1979, Volkswagen had already democratised open-top driving with the first VW Golf Cabriolet. Laying the foundation for this democratic movement, thirty years earlier, was the Beetle Cabrio. The new Golf Cabriolet also embodies this philosophy. Another aspect links it to its legendary predecessors as well: it breaks free of class boundaries. So, attempting to determine the bank balance of its female or male driver is really a waste of time.

Standard features of the Golf Cabriolet

At its market launch in Germany, the model starts at a price of 23,625 euros (VW Golf Cabriolet 1.2 TSI with 77 kW / 105 PS). That is naturally more than a comparably equipped Golf Trendline with sunroof, but it is significantly less than most other four-seat cabriolets in this class. The price differential compared to the classically constructed "hard top" Golf is due to body reinforcements and the soft top activation system, including the sophisticated electro-hydraulic drive and active rollover protection system. So, the new Golf makes it easier to choose to drive all year-round in a cabriolet. And its inventory of standard features is already quite long.

What exactly does one get for 23,625 euros? A four-seat cabriolet with fully automatic soft top, automatically deploying rollover protection, an extremely strong windscreen frame, an effective network of airbags and ESP including Hill Climb Assist, countersteering support and trailer stabilisation, as well as daytime running lights. That is a brief sketch of its safety-related features. Yet, the Golf Cabriolet 1.2 TSI has even more to offer...

Like the Eos, Passat CC, Touareg and Phaeton, Volkswagen is intentionally also offering just one equipment line for the cabriolet Golf. Therefore, the comparison to the hard top Golf Trendline is not a perfect one, since the Cabriolet has features, inside and out, which are either advanced developments or were adapted from the higher equipment lines of the cabriolet's hard top counterpart.

Standard exterior features: In front, the Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet is equipped with chrome trim strips on the radiator grille fins, and at the rear it features smoked LED rear lights and a sports-style bumper. Running from A-pillar to A-pillar, a chrome band encircles the side windows and the soft top. Also standard: green-tinted thermal insulating glass, 205 tyres in 16-inch format with weight-optimised wheel covers, and naturally the electro-hydraulic drive of the soft top.

Standard interior features and functionality: Many of the car's basic interior features include details that have a positive effect on life aboard. They include the climate control system, reading lights in front (2), Hill Climb Assist, length and vertical adjustment of the steering column, and - in BlueMotion Technology models - a Stop/Start system and a system for recovering braking energy (battery regeneration). Standard features also include electric door mirrors, electro-mechanical power steering, wireless remote control of the central locking and a dust and pollen filter with an activated carbon insert. Also always standard: height-adjustable comfort seats (in front) in "Scout" upholstery, chrome accents on switch keys for the electric windows, decorative chrome bezels around the instruments and air vents, numerous storage compartments, Easy Entry for rear passengers and a 3-spoke steering wheel that offers good grip. The glovebox can also be cooled, and the rear seatback folds with a 50:50 split.

Buyers who add the RCD 310 radio-CD system to the car configuration for 655 euros - with 6 loudspeakers, 4 x 20 Watts of audio power, MP3 function, multimedia AUX-IN power and dual tuner - pay a total of 24,280 euros and really have everything they need to enjoy life in the cabriolet.

Optional features of the Golf Cabriolet

Nonetheless, there must be sufficient room to further customise a car, because that too represents a bit of freedom. Along with the classic individual extras, 7 preconfigured packs are available with the new Golf Cabriolet, each offering a bundled price advantage: the "Performance," "Design & Style," "Comfort," "Technology," "Light & Sight", "Mirror" and "Winter" packs.

Buyers of the new cabriolet can choose between the 2 packs "Performance" and "Design & Style." "Design & Style" is essentially the first expansion level for making the Volkswagen even more exclusive and sporty. "Performance," meanwhile, includes all features of the "Design & Style" pack and adds many other details such as leather upholstery. Both packs are coupled with alloy wheels.

"Design & Style pack"

Those choosing the "Design & Style" pack (910 euros) are treated to features such as sport seats with new upholstery styles in Alcantara (centre seat panel) and "Catch Up" upholstery (seat lateral supports), a 3-spoke steering wheel in "Cool Leather" (heats up less in sunlight), pedals with stainless steel caps, leather-trimmed parking brake grip and gearshift grip, chrome bezel on the rotary light switch, chrome accents on the switches for door mirror control, "Black Stripe" decorative inserts for the dashboard and door trim, storage pockets on the backs of the front seats and lumbar supports in front.

"Performance pack"

The "Performance pack" (3,295 euros) contains, beyond "Design & Style" details, features such as leather upholstery in "Vienna" style ("Cool Leather") with seat heating and lumbar supports in front, woven floor mats, a rain sensor and the automatically dimming rear-view mirror, stainless steel pedals, other exterior chrome details and bi-xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, dynamic and static cornering lights, automatic switching of the running lights with "Leaving home" and "Coming home" functions, licence plate illumination in LED technology and front fog lights with chrome trim. The "Performance pack" is coupled with one of the audio systems.

"Comfort pack"

The "Comfort pack" (455 euros) consists of a wind deflector, front centre armrest with storage box and 12-Volt accessory outlet, a storage compartment in front of the rear seating area, a second 12V outlet in the boot and cruise control system.

"Technology pack"

For just 65 euros, the "Technology pack" adds a rain sensor for the windscreen wipers, automatically dipping rear-view mirror, 2 lamps in the footwell area, automatic running light switching with "Leaving home" and "Coming home" functions and Light Assist automatic main beam control (automatically dips headlights when oncoming traffic is present or traffic in front of the car is near). The "Technology pack" is coupled to the ParkPilot (540 euros) and the multifunction display "Plus" (55 euros).

"Light & Sight pack"

For those who do not wish to include the Park Pilot, multifunction display "Plus" or Light Assist system (individual price: 142 euros) in the "Technology pack" can order the "Light & Sight pack" separately for 175 euros. It consists of the rain sensor, automatically dimming rear-view mirror, lights in the footwell and automatic running light switching with "Leaving home" and "Coming home" function.

"Mirror pack"

This pack supplements the "Light & Sight pack" with an electrically folding door mirror, activatable passenger-side mirror lowering for reversing and surroundings illumination.

"Winter pack"

The "Winter pack" that is traditionally offered in many Volkswagens, and is very frequently ordered, makes driving in the coldest season easier. This pack features automatically heated windscreen washer nozzles, headlight cleaning system, heated front seats and warning lamp for low washer water level. Price: 415 euros. When ordered together with the leather interior or xenon headlights, the price is reduced to 285 euros; those choosing leather and xenon pay just 55 euros.

16-, 17- and 18-inch alloy wheels

The 16-inch alloy wheel in the programme is the "Atlanta" with 5 dual spokes and 205 tyres. In 17-inch format, Volkswagen offers 3 wheel designs for the Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet: "Seattle" (5 double spokes), "Porto" (10 spokes) and "Salamanca" (10 spokes). The 18-inch wheel is the "Charleston" (5 double spokes) with black painted rim base. All 17-inch alloy wheels are delivered with 225 tyres.

Individual features

The individual features of the packs are also available separately. Those wishing to increase further the degree of customisation can order nearly any of the extras available in the Golf with a hard-top roof. Key options here are technologies and systems such as ParkPilot (acoustic signal and visual display via the audio system when parking), sport chassis (15 mm lower), automatic climate control system ("Climatronic"), leather-trimmed multifunction steering wheel, MEDIA-IN (USB port), the RCD 310 radio-CD system or radio-CD-navigation systems RNS 315 (navigation function for RCD 310) and RNS 510 (including DVD drive, 30-GB hard drive, touchscreen, traffic sign display and SD card slot) as well as 2 different mobile telephone preps.

Colours and seat versions

Exterior paints: Buyers of the Golf Cabriolet can choose from 9 exterior colours at market launch. They begin with the flat paint "Pure White" (standard). This is followed by 7 optional metallic hues: "Dark Purple," "Shark Blue," "Sunset Red," "Reflex Silver," "Tungsten Silver," "United Grey" and "Night Blue." Also offered is the pearl effect paint "Deep Black," which is of course also a special option.

Seat covers: 9 different seat covers visually complement the exterior colours. The standard upholstery for the cabriolet is "Scout" in "Titan Black." At the next level, the seat upholsteries "Scout / Merlin" are available as options in the colours "Titan Black" and "Pearl Grey," where the lateral seat supports are in "Merlin" design and the seat surfaces in the textured "Scout" fabric.

Those choosing the "Design & Style" pack automatically get ergonomically designed sport seats upholstered in an Alcantara/fabric combination ("Catch Up" fabric pattern) with the colour hue "Titan Black" or "Titan Black / Sunset Red." In this case, the inner surfaces of the lateral seat supports are in "Catch Up" fabric (for "Sunset Red" the seat's decorative seams are also red).

"Vienna" leather upholstery in Cool Leather is available as an option in conjunction with the "Performance pack" in the Golf Cabriolet, which includes front sport seats. The leather may be configured in one of the 4 colour hues "Truffle," "Black," "Ceramique" or "Salsa Red."

Sustainable performance is feasible

The 6 turbo direct-injection engines are ideal for cruising with a cabriolet. They cover a power range from 77 kW / 105 PS to 155 kW / 210 PS. Also fun is the fast and fuel-efficient high-tech dual clutch transmission (DSG), which is available with 4 of the engines. One petrol engine (TSI) and both diesels (TDI) will be available with energy-saving BlueMotion Technologies (battery regeneration and Stop/Start systems). Illustrating just how efficiently the new Volkswagen utilises fuel is the Golf Cabriolet 1.6 TDI with 105 PS with BlueMotion Technology: it offers a combined fuel consumption of just 4.4 l/100 km (equivalent to 117 g/km CO2).

1.2 TSI with 77 kW / 105 PS

The turbocharged 1.2-litre four-cylinder engine observes the TSI downsizing principle with just 1,197 cm3 engine displacement. It offers maximum power with minimal fuel consumption. The BlueMotion Technology pack is available as an option in this Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet version. The 77 kW / 105 PS Cabrio accelerates from a standstill to 100 km/h in 11.7 seconds. Its top speed is 188 km/h. This contrasts with fuel economy and emission values that set standards for open-top cars with petrol engines: 5.9 l/100 (139 g/km CO2) in the standard version or 5.7 l/100 km and 132 g/km CO2 with BlueMotion Technology. The 1.2 TSI outputs its maximum power at 5,000 rpm. Its maximum torque of 175 Newton metres is available between 1,550 and 4,100 rpm. The 1.2 TSI is delivered with a 6-speed manual gearbox as standard.

1.4 TSI with 90 kW / 122 PS

At the next power level, the new Golf Cabriolet is driven by an efficiently operating 1.4-litre TSI with 90 kW / 122 PS (at 5,000 rpm). This engine may be combined with a 7-speed dual clutch transmission as an option. Both versions will follow this autumn. The four cylinder engine develops its maximum torque of 200 Newton metres between 1,500 and 4,000 rpm. (All fuel economy and driving performance data for the Golf Cabriolet 1.4 TSI with 122 PS cited in this press release are forecast values.)

With a combined fuel consumption of 6.4 l/100 km (equivalent to 149 g/km CO2), the turbo engine makes the cabriolet with manual gearbox one of the most fuel-efficient cars in its power class. The 122 PS TSI can attain a top speed of 197 km/h. This Golf Cabriolet covers the classic 0-100 km/h sprint in 10.5 seconds. Driving performance is identical in the DSG version; its combined fuel consumption is even better at 6.3 l/100 km (147 g/km CO2).

1.4 TSI with 118 kW / 160 PS

The twincharger with 118 kW / 160 PS (at 5,800 rpm), which is boosted by both turbocharging and supercharging, may also be combined with a 7-speed DSG. It is exactly as fuel efficient as the smaller 1.4 TSI. Combined fuel consumption with a manual gearbox is 6.4 l/100 km (here: 150 g/km CO2); when shifted by DSG, fuel consumption is reduced to 6.3 l/100 km (148 g/km CO2). The TSI develops a maximum torque of 240 Newton metres between 1,500 and 4,500 rpm. In both transmission versions, the Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet with this engine reaches 100 km/h in 8.4 seconds; its top speed is 216 km/h.

2.0 TSI with 155 kW / 210 PS

At the highest power level, the Golf Cabriolet is driven by a 155 kW / 210 PS (at 5,300 rpm) TSI. In this case, the engine's power reaches the front wheels via a 6-speed DSG as standard. And it does so very fuel efficiently, despite the added power: per 100 km it consumes 7.5 litres (equivalent to 175 g/km CO2), which is directly injected into the up to 280 Newton metres (from 1,700 rpm) torque-strong 16-valve engine. Despite this, it attains a top speed of 235 km/h. The Golf Cabriolet 2.0 TSI covers the sprint to 100 km/h in 7.3 seconds. (All fuel economy and driving performance data for the Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet 2.0 TSI cited in this press release are forecast values, since this version will also follow in late autumn.)

1.6 TDI with 77 kW / 105 PS

Entry to the TDI programme is offered by the 1.6-litre four cylinder engine with 77 kW / 105 PS (4,400 rpm) and a maximum torque of 250 Newton metres (1,500 to 2,500 rpm). As an option, this TDI version may be equipped with the BlueMotion Technology (BMT) pack (Stop/Start system and battery regeneration). The combined fuel consumption of the Golf Cabriolet 1.6 TDI plus BlueMotion Technology is just 4.4 l/100 (equivalent to 117 g/km CO2). Corresponding values without BMT are 4.8 l/100 km and 125 g/km CO2. In each case, the open-top Golf 1.6 TDI is the most fuel-efficient Volkswagen cabriolet ever. Both versions reach the 100-km/h speed mark in 12.1 seconds; and their top speed is 188 km/h.

2.0 TDI with 103 kW / 140 PS

The most powerful common rail TDI of the Golf Cabriolet is a 1,968 cm3 displacement four cylinder engine with 103 kW / 140 PS (at 4,200 rpm); this TDI is combined with the BlueMotion Technology pack as standard. The engine being introduced this autumn will be available with 6-speed DSG as an option.

From a low 1,750 rpm, the TDI develops a maximum torque of 320 Newton metres (up to 2,500 rpm). These key performance parameters of the four cylinder engine accelerate the VW Golf Cabriolet to 100 km/h in just 9.9 seconds; its top speed is 207 km/h. For the DSG version, the top speed is slightly less at 205 km/h. As would be expected, the combined fuel consumption of the Golf Cabriolet 2.0 TDI is exceptionally low: 4.5 l/100 km with manual gearbox, 5.1 litres in the DSG version. The equivalent CO2 values are 119 g/km and 134 g/km (DSG). (All fuel economy and driving performance data for the Golf Cabriolet 2.0 TDI cited in this press release are forecast values, because this version will also follow in late autumn.)

BlueMotion Technologies in detail

Stop/Start system: The driver approaches a red light, brakes the Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet to a stop, shifts into neutral and takes the foot off the clutch (with DSG it is sufficient to press the brake pedal). This causes the engine to shut off momentarily. In the multifunction display the text "Start (A) Stop" appears. As soon as the traffic light turns green again, the driver depresses the clutch (or with DSG simply releases the brake), and the engine starts, the "Start (A) Stop" text is cleared, the driver engages a gear and resumes driving. Essentially, the driver does not need to perform any extra operating steps compared to a conventional car, yet saves up to 0.2 l/100 km in the city using the Stop/Start system.

Unlike vehicles without the Stop/Start system, the BlueMotion Technology models have an extra battery data module (for acquiring momentary battery charge status), a heavy-duty engine starter, a DC/DC converter (guarantees voltage stability in the vehicle's electrical system) and an exceptionally durable deep-cycle glass mat battery on board.

Battery regeneration: Regeneration helps to utilise the energy expended in driving as ideally as possible. During coasting and braking phases of the Golf Cabriolet - i.e. whenever the driver releases the accelerator pedal or brakes - the system elevates the voltage of the alternator (generator), and this electricity is used to bulk charge the vehicle's battery. Thanks to this alternator control as a function of engine efficiency, and the optimally charged battery that results, the voltage of the alternator can be reduced whenever this is desirable - e.g. when accelerating or while constantly maintaining a desired speed. The alternator may even be shut off entirely. This relieves engine load, which in turn reduces fuel consumption. In addition, the battery - always optimally charged - supplies the vehicle's electrical system with sufficient energy during the stopped phase of the engine (e.g. at traffic lights). Battery regeneration requires special software for energy management and modified engine controller software.

6-speed and 7-speed DSG

Except for the TSI and TDI with 77 kW / 105 PS, all other engines of the new Golf Cabriolet may be combined with a dual clutch transmission (DSG). It is either a 6-speed or 7-speed DSG, depending on engine torque values. Both DSG versions are characterised by maximum economy and shifting dynamics, which have never been attained to this extent before. Besides having different numbers of forward gears, another way in which the DSG systems differ technically is in their clutch types. While two dry clutches are used in the 7-speed DSG, the dual clutch of the 6-speed DSG runs wet in an oil bath. True of both gearboxes: even the most experienced professional drivers do not shift at nearly the speed of the DSG versions. More than any other automatic, the dual clutch gearboxes have the potential to reduce fuel consumption and thereby emissions. Compared to an automatic with torque-converter clutch, fuel efficiency gains may be as much as 20 percent, depending on the engine.

History of the first Golf Cabriolet

Here is something that hardly anyone knows: the first 'Generation I' prototype of the VW Golf Cabriolet - like the new Golf Cabriolet - had no fixed roll bar. That is reason enough for a brief historical review and a closer look at the first prototype of the 1970s. The cabriolet was created at Karmann in Osnabrück. Today, the plants belong to Volkswagen. So, like all previous generations, the new Golf Cabriolet will once again be produced in Osnabrück.

A leap back through time: the Golf experienced a fantastic launch in 1974, and in 1976 the model line-up was extended with the GTI that would later become legendary as well as a pioneering diesel model. In the same year, it became clear that the Golf would storm the last bastion of the Beetle - as a cabriolet version. "As soon as the Golf appeared on the scene, Karmann entered into talks with Volkswagen about developing the cabriolet prototype. In parallel, Volkswagen began its study work," recalls Anton Konrad, who was Volkswagen's PR director back then. A cabriolet based on a compact? Even though the segment of four-seat cabriolets was as good as dead in Europe since the end of the 1960s? This was not really a risky gamble, rather it was a logical step, according to Klaus Bischoff, Head of Design of the Volkswagen brand today: "Only the best cars that stand out from the masses are viable candidates for a cabriolet. And that is why the Golf I - at that time the most expressive Volkswagen model - had the power to instil new life to the segment."

In December 1976, the first prototype was created at Karmann; it was intended to assume this role. The white cabriolet had the angular bootlid of the saloon; its cornerstone was the famous C-pillar crease penned by Giorgio Giugiaro, the designer of the first Golf. "Unlike on the Beetle Cabriolet, the windscreen and triangular window were also adopted from the base model here. Finally, the Golf Cabrio had to be sold at an attractive price," explains Rüdiger Folten, a member of the Volkswagen design team since 1973. Even without a fixed roof, the prototype of the A1C - the car's internal code name - exhibited all of the key traits of the Golf.

The mechanical design of the top stacked remarkably flat on the short rear section - but at a price that is only justifiable on prototypes. That is because the large rear window glass is fastened along its lower border with hinges and simply folds inward when the roof is lowered. The rear side windows could be rolled down completely, and they cut a very good figure with their chrome frames when fully cranked up. Yet, all of these aspects are just side notes compared to the characteristic that gave the later production model its nickname: the "handle" of the "strawberry basket" is missing.

So, how did the roll bar make its way into the later production model? Anton Konrad provides the answer: "At that time, vehicle safety was a prominent topic at Volkswagen. Our head of development at the time, Professor Ernst Fiala, was later known as the "Pope of Safety." He insisted that the bar be installed, in part with an eye toward upcoming legislation in the USA."

As an aside, the roll bar-free prototype harbours an interesting secret: hidden behind the rear side trim panels are heavy-duty threaded fittings for mounting a roll bar; right from the start, tests were conducted on both versions, and in the end a modified version with a roll bar prevailed. When the first production models rolled off the Osnabrück assembly line in June 1979, the cabriolet looked as though it had been cast from a single mould: it had an elaborate yet uncomplicated roof design with a 5 layer fabric-lined top, an attractive smooth surface at its rear, and it offered plenty of open-air fun with 4 full-size seats at an affordable price. In parallel, Karmann continued to build the Beetle Cabrio for about 6 months longer. That is because when news of its imminent demise made the rounds, there was a tremendous rise in orders. "The Beetle community even came together for a funeral procession in Wolfsburg," says Anton Konrad. He sent a sausage booth out to the demonstrators instead of plant security, and he invited the spokesperson of the Beetle friends for a test drive in the Volkswagen Golf Cabrio. Bottom line: "He was amazed at how much more technically advanced it was than his beloved Beetle."

The rest is history: the Golf I Cabrio was a global success, with total sales of 388,522. And by the time it was replaced by the Golf III Cabrio (1993), discussions of the roll bar took on a new tone. The fact is that the "handle" had long matured from a mere annoyance to an aesthetic style element - and the roll bar-free prototype remained on the drawing board. Until 1 March 2011. That is when Volkswagen presented the new Golf Cabriolet at the Geneva Motor Show - without a roll bar thanks to automatically deploying rollover protection modules. And that, if you will, ennobled the prototype of the very first VW Golf Cabrio prototype 35 years on.

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