Preparing for an auto show involves a bit of cat-and-mouse interaction between automakers and automotive journalists. The industry “flacks” often give trusted reporters an advance look at the products they’re planning to introduce but occasionally, someone jumps the embargo and it becomes fair game for all.
As has happened with the three images you see here of what Volkswagen has been calling its “Golf Variant.” A better way to think of it is as the next-generation Jetta SportWagen. The original plans called for the new 2-box design to make its formal debut at a splashy debut staged prior to the formal opening of the 2013 Geneva Motor Show.
Unfortunately, we’ll still have to wait for that event to get VW officials to spill the complete story but here’s what we’ve learned so far: The GolfVariant, as its name suggests, is based on the all-new MQB small car platform Volkswagen has adopted – one that will be used for a wide range of products sold not just under the VW brand but also for marques as diverse as Skoda and Audi.
The new Golf spin-off is expected to launch in the European market by this coming autumn. It bears a striking resemblance to the seventh-generation Golf hatchback, especially up front, though it gets a longer rear overhang and a wagon-style fold-down cargo door, flanked by rounder taillamps. We also spot a set of roof rails not found on the hatch.
In Europe, at least, we’re expecting a fairly broad mix of gasoline and diesel engines, likely with stick and dual-clutch gearboxes.
As for the U.S. market, well, Americans haven’t shown a great fondness for wagons in recent decades, but there have been a few notable exceptions and the outgoing Jetta SportWagen has consistently generated sales numbers of anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 a month, which may be enough to convince planners at Volkswagen of America to maintain the model once the new version reaches production.
Some minor tweaks would be likely, and we might just wind up with a conventional automatic, rather than the double-clutch automated manual.
The other question is when it would show up at U.S. dealers. The North American launch of the MkVII Golf is still about a year away, on hold until VW tools up a plant in Puebla, Mexico. Though we could see the low-volume Jetta SportWagen come in from another factory it is unlikely it would land here before the next-gen Golf.