The Mk VII Volkswagen Golf was launched to the world at the Paris Auto Show last September, and has been on sale in Europe since late 2012. The new GTI will join it in May. But we Americans won't get the newest version of the Golf until the first half of 2014 as a 2015 model. Why?
Because the Golf, as built and sold in Europe, isn't the Golf we'll be getting. Oh, it'll be basically the same Golf, but it will be built in Volkswagen's Puebla, Mexico plant.
And that's the reason for the delay. According to VW of America's product and technology communications manager Mark Gillies, adding the new line to the Puebla plant will take some time, and ramp-up will be slow and careful, as with any new auto plant.
Another factor, according to Gillies: Europe is still the most important market for the Golf, so initial focus is, understandably, placed there.
Further, the MkVI Golf was launched in 2009 in the U.S., also a year behind the European market, and is only four calendar years old--five when the MkVII replaces it here. That's a year or two shorter than a typical model life cycle.
Part of the challenge for the Puebla plant is that the 2015 Golf is the first of the brand's cars to use the new MQB "modular transverse matrix." Building MQB cars in Puebla will require construction and ramp-up of an all-new line--a process that takes time and care to ensure good production.
The MQB matrix allows VW to share more architecture between more models across VW Group brands, thereby cutting costs while maintaining design and quality goals.
We won't have to wait long to find out exactly what the benefits of the MQB platform will be for the U.S., however: the 2015 Golf will launch next month at the New York Auto Show, with new tech features like lane-departure warning, collision avoidance, and new infotainment systems.
VW promises three variants initially, including the TDI Clean Diesel, a turbocharged TSI model, and the GTI.
Exactly which EA888 variant will slot into the TSI remains to be announced, but it could prove an interesting matter.
The TDI will use the newer EA288 diesel, while the 2015 GTI will use its more powerful take on the EA888 2.0-liter turbo, as shown earlier this month at the Geneva Motor Show.
Though American specifications may vary slightly from the European model, the new GTI promises a very entertaining 220 horsepower at 4,500 rpm and 258 pound-feet of torque from a very low 1,500 rpm.
An optional performance pack is also available, adding another 10 horsepower, plus a torque-sensing limited-slip differential and larger brakes.
(c) 2013, High Gear Media.