It’s going to be a busy week in Frankfurt as automakers from around the world roll out some of their hottest new products to kick off the new model-year. And nobody is going to be busier than the Volkswagen Group which will hold its annual group event Monday night offering attending media a first glimpse at a good dozen of those new offerings – at least one from each of the German maker’s myriad brands.
Among the more intriguing models will be the Golf Sportsvan concept. Don’t let the show car designation fool you, however, as this is a very, very thinly disguised version of the production people-mover that will soon replace the outgoing Golf Plus.
It’s part of the Volkswagen strategy to flood the market with all manner of body styles filling in every possible niche segment – the Sportsvan set to become the third body variant off the all-new VW Golf that has become a slam dunk in an otherwise struggling European auto market.
A cross between a hatch and a minivan, VW is calling the concept “one of the most versatile vehicles in the compact class,” something a quick look at these teaser images might attest to. The maker is pitching the new offering as “an excellent alternative for those customers who want more flexibility but do not need a classic ‘minivan.’”
The Sportsvan measures about 3.5 inches longer overall than the latest Golf hatchback, and about 5.5 inches longer than the old Golf Plus but it’s nearly 10 inches shorter than the Golf wagon – or Estate. The Sportswagon is wider than both the hatch and wagon, however.
The Golf Sportsvan picks up on some of the more popular features of its predecessor, notably the command seating of the Golf Plus, as well as a 60/40 split-fold and sliding rear bench seat.
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But there’s plenty new, including an electronic locking differential and a variety of safety features such as Blind Sport Monitor. On the creature comfort side, there’ll now be a heated steering wheel.
The Golf Sportsvan will offer a range of six different engine options, both gas and diesel in the mix, VW claiming the update will deliver a full 19% better mileage than the outgoing Golf Plus. Credit, in part, the new MQB “architecture” that is becoming a foundation for a wide range of VW Group products, starting with the latest-generation Golf. It is stronger and, in production trim yields up several 100 pounds in weight savings.
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Sadly, VW has decided to take it slow when it comes to launching the new Golf hatchback in North America, waiting to get a new line ready in Mexico – which means U.S. dealers will be a year behind their European counterparts. As for the Golf Sportsvan? The outgoing Golf Plus has been a solid success across Europe, but it doesn’t look like it will be crossing the Atlantic at all. At least, not yet. But perhaps that will change if VW is convinced there are market opportunities as it watches competitive offerings such as the Ford C-Max target that white space between hatchback and minivan.