VW to Debut New, Lighter Golf on Sept. 4

We've praised the quality and drivability of Volkswagen's smallest U.S. offering, the Golf hatchback, but the gas version’s fuel economy still underwhelms — 26 mpg combined with Volkswagen's inline-five-cylinder, versus 28 to 32 mpg combined in the Toyota Matrix, Ford Focus hatchback and Hyundai Elantra GT with automatics and base four-cylinder engines. The Golf does have a 34-mpg diesel version, but it commands a stiff $6,240 premium over the base model.

Gasoline versions could see a big increase in fuel economy with the redesigned Golf, which Bloomberg News reports should be unveiled Sept. 4. VW will lighten the car's platform up to 220 pounds with stronger steel but less overall metal, which should help gas mileage improve by a reported 23% in the global car. 

That comes with many caveats, of course. Volkswagen unveiled an updated Golf — known briefly in U.S. showrooms as the Rabbit — in August 2008, but a U.S. Golf didn't show up stateside until the 2010 model year. Bloomberg's report focused on the European Golf, whose weight-saving production process will extend to some 40 small and midsize cars built by the Volkswagen Group. The reduced weight should translate to cost savings, which Bloomberg News says VW will plow into R&D for in-car multimedia systems.

We asked U.S. Volkswagen spokesman Corey Proffitt about the implications for the stateside Golf and its turbocharged sibling, the GTI.

"The U.S. will benefit from advancements made for the seventh-gen model, such as improved fuel economy, more efficient aerodynamics and weight improvements," Proffitt said. "Exact specs, powertrains and features won't be available until closer to market launch, however."

Stay tuned for more coverage when the new Golf breaks cover.

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Senior Consumer Affairs Editor Kelsey Mays likes quality, reliability, safety and practicality. But he also likes a fair price.  Email Kelsey