Volkswagen has previewed its big Golf 7 release in Berlin, mere weeks ahead of its official glamour unveiling at the 2012 Paris auto show. The Golf 7, which will go on sale in South Africa early in 2013, is the latest member to an automotive dynasty spanning three decades during which more than 29-millionhave been sold. RIDES ON MQBThe new car, the automaker said, will bring “new levels of comfort, practicality, safety and efficiency to the class".New production techniques contribute to a car that is up to 100kg lighter than its predecessor which, the automaker said, will help to make it up to 23% more efficient, too. Built on the modular (Modularer QuerBaukasten) MQB platform, the new Golf will also have a stronger body structure that will contribute to a safer car bolstered by a number of new passive and active safety systems, among them a multi-collision braking system that automatically slows the vehicle after a collision and a PreCrash system that prepares the cabin for an impending crash. The new Golf, at 4255mm, is 56mm longer than the Golf 6. Its wheelbase is 2637mm – 59mm more than before. The front wheels have also been moved forward by 43mm (this creates more interior space) while the car is 13mm wider (1799mm) and 28mm lower at 1452mm. The automaker said drag was down by 10% to 0.27 Cd.Rear legroom has increased by 15mm and the boot’s volume by 30 litres to 380. The front passenger seat can be folded fully forward to handle extra-long goods. Regarding ergonomics, the centre console is angled more towards the driver for easier access to the new touchscreen infotainment systems (which has digital radio, USB ports and Bluetooth). A new electronic parking brake also frees up space between the front seats.TOP SAFETY FEATURESElectronic driver aids include adaptive cruise control; City Emergency Braking (at up to 30km/h); a Driver Alert System that monitors the driver’s input to detect signs of tiredness and a camera-assisted Lane Assist system. The Golf’s steering now uses a variable ratio system said to offer “more agile steering in dynamic driving situations, while ensuring high-speed stability, and easy manoeuvring in the city"..For the first time, the Golf is also available with driver profile selection, which allows the driver to choose from four modes – Eco, Sport, Normal and Individual; with a DSG gearbox a fifth option – Comfort – is also offered. Each of these modes alters the throttle mapping and engine management (among other parameters) to the chosen style. Powering the Golf is a new range of petrol and diesel engines, all of which incorporate stop/start and battery regeneration systems. The line-up for South Africa is yet to be confirmed, but power outputs range from 63kW to 110kW. So, while the new car is larger, its design remains pure Golf. Walter de Silva, VW’s head of design, said: “One of the keys to the Golf’s success lies in its continuity. There’s a handful of cars with a design that, like the Golf, has been refined, tweaked and enhanced down the decades and thus become timeless.”Further details are expected to be revealed at the Paris auto show, starting September 27, 2012. The Golf 7 is expected to reach South Africa in the first quarter of 2013.