Steering Column 24.10.08

Anyone for Golf?
Anyone wanting to get early delivery of the sixth generation Volkswagen Golf can get their order in now.

You won’t get delivery until the start of next year, but the prices have now been released and there are fuller details of the kind of trim you can expect in exchange for your hard-earned shillings.

We’re told there’ll be three basic versions, known as S, SE and GT.

The S model is the starting point but it has seven airbags, clever brakes, climate control and heated door mirrors among other things.

The SE adds an uprated eight-speaker sound system that can play tracks from your iPod, cruise control, automatic lights and wipers and nice 16-inch alloy wheels.

Top of the range will be the GT with lowered sports suspension, sports seats, front fog lights, a steering wheel with buttons for things like the music and cruise control and even bigger 17-inch alloys.

As for engines, there’ll be four petrol versions and two diesel. Three of the petrol engines have a displacement of 1.4-litres, all with different power output ranging from 80PS through 122PS to 160PS.

There’s a 1.6 model too which comes in near the bottom of the power range, turning out 102PS. Both diesel engines are two-litre units turning out either 110 or 140PS.

Visually, it’s starting to take on the more aggressive scowl of its twin-under-the-skin coupe, the Scirocco, but it’s not quite grumpy looking enough to steal anything of the charisma of its sibling.

Golf has been a fabulously successful range of hatchbacks for VW – global sales are now over an amazing 26 million – but the company is confidently stating that this is the most refined version it’s yet made.

Green, clean and mean
Mazda has handed over a version of its RX-8 rotary-engined sportscar to the Hydrogen Road of Norway project, better known as HyNor. As you might have guessed, it’s powered purely by hydrogen which, when burned, produces only moisture through the exhaust.

RX-8 cars powered by hydrogen have already been tested in Japan, but this is the first of its kind to travel on public roads beyond the home country. Once it’s been properly and officially “validated” a further 30 hydrogen cars will be sent to Norway for distribution on commercial lease contracts.

The HyNor project aims to establish a clean energy transport system based on hydrogen as a fuel. It’s establishing filling stations along the main 360-mile route from Oslo to Stavanger to make it a practical option and it’s encouraging the use of hydrogen to fuel buses, taxis and private cars.

Here’s a question. Why can’t we establish something similar in Shetland where hydrogen fuel cell technology is already being developed at its cutting edge, conventional fuel is at its most expensive and the main trunk and branch routes could easily be served by half a dozen strategically placed specialist fuel stations?

If the planned big windfarm development produced clean and cheap fuel in sizeable quantities, I suspect it may even gain more public support than one feeding electricity to the grid. And if we could drive around in cars as sexy as the RX-8, the hydrogen car concept would be an easy one to sell to even the most died-in-the-wool petrolhead. Answers on a postcard.

Mike Grundon


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