Steering Column 12.12.08

Same but more

Volkswagen has unveiled the latest generation of the Golf Plus – basically the same thing as the five-door hatchback only with more height, more passenger space and more cargo room.

It’s not going to scare anyone on the road and it’s not going to confuse any casual observers in that it’s extremely similar to the last generation Golf Plus – perhaps a bit tidied up and smoother with a more defined grille and airscoop at the front.

We are told the tyres on the new version are “slightly lower profile” than on the last generation and there are newly designed integrated roof rails while round the back there are LED lights.

Practicality and versatility stays high, we’re assured, while “the interior reaches a new level of quality” with new upholstery materials.

The engine range is yet to be confirmed but there will be petrol and diesel models linked to either a five or six cog manual gearbox, or a six or seven-speed DSG automatic. One engine that has been confirmed is the 1.4 litre 120bhp petrol unit that can run an average 44.8 miles on a gallon of fuel. We’re also told there will be turbo diesel engines with power outputs between 89bhp and 139bhp, the most powerful of which will still give over 55mpg fuel economy.

Oh, and for those of you who just can’t grasp parallel parking, there will be ParkAssist offered on the car which operates the steering automatically for you through the whole unsavoury and complicated business.

We aren’t going to see the car on the road in the UK until the spring and prices will be announced nearer the time.

iQ safety selling point

Potential buyers of Toyota’s soon-to-arrive micro car, the iQ, are being reassured that despite the fact it is tiny by anyone’s standards, the company is going big on safety.

Despite being little more than a couple of chairs on wheels with a box on top to keep the rain off, the makers say it has been “designed to achieve the highest levels of active and passive safety”.

Going into a bit more detail, the makers talk about the anti-lock brakes, the vehicle stability control, traction control, brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution – all fine and sophisticated active safety equipment to save you the embarrassment of crawling mud spattered from the ditch.

Come the evil day though, the cage around the occupants is designed to take any impact energy away from them, leaving them free to enjoy the manifold protective delights of no fewer than nine airbags, including the world’s first rear window curtain shield airbag.

Small cars in the past have had a reputation for leaving the occupants a bit vulnerable, the logic running that the less metal and space you have between you and the outside world, the nearer you are to disastrous damage. However, Toyota is convinced the iQ should happily get the maximum five stars on the industry standard Euro NCAP crash tests.

The car can be ordered now and deliveries will be in January. Prices begin at £9,295.

Mike Grundon


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