2008 Volkswagen Golf: A first look at the next generation

The fifth-generation is only now arriving in America, but VW is already fervently readying a successor for 2008-two years ahead of schedule.

High costs and disappointing sales in Europe have spurred the redo. Decontenting, reduced complexity, and easier assembly are supposed to lower costs. Customers will see fresh styling, updated powertrains, and reconfigured equipment.

The new and soon-to-be replaced fifth-generation Golf

The designers must make the next Golf look sportier, classier, and more modern without touching the hard points. Planned changes include wider upper doorframes that feign a lower roof, a rising beltline to create a more dynamic stance, and more sculptured flanks for a richer appearance.

Inside, expect lower-cost seats and a redesigned dashboard. The marketers are hoping for an iPod input jack, Bluetooth phone connectivity, satellite radio, DVD navigation, and an OnStar-type concierge service.

In addition to the current 2.5-liter five, engines for the U.S. market will include a 2.0-liter turbo-diesel, which switches to common-rail injection, and a 280-hp V-6 for the R36. All engines can be matched with a DSG transmission.