Golf V Part I: Introduction and Market Positioning

The introduction of a new generation of the Golf seems to mark a certain time period for VW enthusiasts and for the automotive industry as a whole since the Golf is the best selling hatchback in the world. We won’t see the new Golf V here in the U.S. till late 2004/early 2005, however that doesn’t stop us from providing you with the most information we can dig up on the all-new model. Below is the full Volkswagen AG press kit broken down into multiple sections with over 150 photos. The press release, while applicable to the Golf V in general, does contain model specific details for the German market, so expect some detail changes when North American cars arrive.

From what we’ve been able to gather so far the U.S. Golf/Jetta V models will be coming in GL, GLS and GLX trim levels with an all-new 150hp 2.5l inline-5 cylinder as the base engine and an all-new 200hp 16v 2.0l 4-cylinder turbo as the uprated engine. The 3.2l VR6 should be a delayed introduction with 4motion all-wheel-drive. Enthusiasts can look for the 200hp 2.0l turbo in the new GTI which will be officially introduced next September at the Paris Auto Show. A design concept of the all-new GTI was shown at the Frankfurt Auto Show and the story and photos can be found HERE.

We’ll always post any new information on the new Golf V as it becomes available. Meanwhile the German-market Press Release below is the most detailed report on the all-new Golf released so far.

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Fifth generation of a classless bestseller

Start-up phase with 135,000 new Golfs in 2003

600,000 of the new generation Golf to be produced in 2004

Wolfsburg, Germany – The new Golf is, like its predecessors, absolutely incomparable and distinctive in respect of its visual and technical refinement and dynamics. The first-generation Golf dating from 1974 had been endowed with this uniqueness from its inception. When the number 1 was presented to the press at Munich in May 29 years ago, the original generation already bore the typical features that would immediately make it a bestseller: the dynamic C-pillar resembling the drawn string of a bow, the unequalled variability in the segment at the time, the lively engines and, last but not least, the extremely safe, neutral chassis complete with front-wheel drive were impressive all along the line.

For almost three decades, the Golf has continually been the best-selling car in and outside Germany. From a purely statistical point of view, approximately 2,100 customers worldwide have bought a Golf every day over the last 29 years. The Golf is regarded as the epitome of “the car”, as the benchmark for the competition, as the only vehicle in the compact class with a truly classless status across social boundaries.

The competitors have multiplied, but the Golf is still the number 1

The vehicles in the Golf class have in recent years won an increasingly larger share of the market in Western Europe. This rose from 31.7% to 36.9% between 1976 and 2002. Due to the fragmentation of the segment – for example, due to the success of the so-called A-MPV – the proportion of fastback vehicles decreased from 63.6% to 47.5% during the same period. However, the absolute sales volume has remained constant. The fourth-generation Golf maintained its market share – except from the natural curve during the phase-out period. It remained the undisputed leader in its segment with a share of between 20 and 22%.

What makes the fact that the Volkswagen has been able to maintain a constant lead all the more remarkable is that other A-class variants have constantly been pushing their way into the Golf class for years. When the first-generation Golf came out, there were about ten direct competitors in Europe. In 2003, there are about 130 rival models in eight sub-segments of the class, each vying for a share of a market that is dominated by the Golf.

The fourth-generation Golf seamlessly continued the success story of the series. The Golf to be replaced in the autumn held a 35% share of the worldwide sales of models of the Volkswagen brand. In Western Europe, the Golf accounted for 46% of total volume. The new Golf will, it is hoped, continue to increase these shares from 2004 onwards.

The new Golf has all the ingredients to continue in the successful footsteps of its predecessors: a clear plus in terms of dynamics, spaciousness, safety, quality and fascination make it an all-round talent for millions of people from all walks of life.

In this regard, a crucial factor is that the brand, with the models Phaeton and Touareg as well as the top-of-the-range versions of the Passat, has moved upmarket while at the same time continuing to strengthen the volume segments and systematically conquer new sub-segments. Crucial to this strategy is the Golf and the millions of Golf customer all over the world. Current plans envisage the production of 135,000 new Golf models in the fourth quarter of 2003. Sales of Germany’s most important car are expected to exceed approx. 600,000 units from 2004 – the first full sales year.

There is no such thing as a typical “Golf driver”. However, all Golf drivers appreciate the value of perfect detail solutions, excellent technology and high aestheticism

It is impossible to reduce Golf drivers, as a target group, to a common denominator. For the new Golf will again reach an incomparably large cross-section of education and income levels. And herein lies the secret of the Golf. Nonetheless, there are decisive aspects for all Golf drivers, whether male or female. A sociodemographic study in the run-up to the market launch of the new Golf showed that, among other things, a “simplification of life with the car”, “authenticity”, “interior comfort”, and hence “comfort” in general, “safety”, unlimited “suitability for everyday use” and “individuality in details” are key criteria for the purchase of a Golf.

Golf drivers also appreciate the value of perfect detail solutions and high-quality material optics, the combination of excellent technology with fascinating aesthetics, intuitive operation and effortless driving. The fifth-generation Golf meets these expectations with superior handling dynamics, an inimitable, dynamic and timeless design, top quality, high build precision, well thought-out ergonomics, a high level of passive safety, lots of space and innovative drive train technologies.

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For more photos of the car in this story, click on the link to our gallery at the right.