Ferdinand Porsche can only be described as a remarkable man, who played a vitally important role in the development of modern motoring and whose legacy lives on to this very day, not only through his company namesake but across a board of influential nameplates.
Born in September of 1875 to German-speaking parents, in what is now the Czech Republic, Ferdinand showed remarkable aptitude for mechanical work from a very young age. After assisting his father at the family mechanical shop during the day, he would attend night classes at a nearby technical school to hone his skills. Once of age, the young man joined the working classes, however continued to advance his engineering knowledge by sneaking into a local university after work to listen in on night lectures.
It was this sort of passion and determination that lead to his greatest works, like the first electric hub motor, the first recorded hybrid vehicle, the Mercedes-Benz SSK, the Volkswagen Beetle and of course the German sports-car company Porsche; to name but a few.
Ferdinand Porsche’s legacy lives on to this very day – and in more ways than one. You see he developed a motoring icon in the VW Beetle, which despite its truly hideous nature and Nazi-roots, was produced from 1938 until 2003, with over 21 million rolling off the lines during that period. With the success of the Beetle, so Volkswagen itself has thrived and is now the 2nd biggest automobile company in the world (with Porsche owning some 51%).
You can see the existence and ethos of both VW and Porsche are entwined in one another – and entwined with the ideals of Ferdinand Porsche, who was above all else an engineer.
It comes as no surprise then that engineering is undoubtedly Volkswagen’s biggest strength – as displayed by the ‘new’ Golf 7. Design and creativity, however, is clearly not at the top of their priority list – as displayed by the ‘new’ Golf 7.
Outwardly there’s as much difference between the Golf 6 and 7 as there is between pees in a pod. The words of Klaus Bischoff tell the story of VW’s design philosophy; “Logical, solid, product-focused, pure and precise.” Not exactly words one would expect uttered from anyone in Alfa Romeo’s design team for example. And it shows in the Golf’s clinically clean and unchanged cut-out.
The true success of the Golf marque is what lies beneath its steely exterior. Starting with the technically complex 1.4 litre TSI motor that boasts BlueMotion technology, featuring a stop/start system and battery regeneration. The little four-pot produces 90 kW and 200Nm via a 6 speed manual gearbox, meaning this turbocharged engine can sprint from 0-100 km/h in 9.3 seconds, yet will frugally sip away at the fuel tank at a rate of just 5.2 litres/100km.
Then there’s the interior, which (as usual) is built with bullet-proof quality in mind. The materials are top-drawer, the ergonomics near perfect and the finish is something Swiss watch-makers would be proud of.
But even this level of attention to engineering detail isn’t enough for VW, nor would it have been for Ferdinand Porsche. So they set the goal of saving up to 100 kg in weight over the Golf 6 – a complex task, especially in the compact class.
Why stop there though? How about improved refinement? Considering that the Golf 6 was considered by many to be the quietest car in its class, surely there wouldn’t be much more the engineers could achieve?
What about passenger shoulder room, or perhaps improving ergonomics for an above-average height driver, or one with particularly wide feet?
You’ve guessed it; VW has done all of the above – and more – to ensure the Golf 7 truly is the most precise vehicle they could roll off production lines. It might not be the most dynamically exciting car to drive, but on material quality, refinement and functional simplicity, the Golf is outstanding.
In fact there’s so much to this new generation that its qualities are not so much easy to overlook as intended to be taken for granted. One thing that won’t be taken for granted however is the price tag – which at R269 500 includes just enough kit to be acceptable, but is a fair whack more than its competition. Regardless though, this is a VW that Ferdinand Porsche himself would be proud of – and there’s no arguing with that kind of endorsement.
Price: R 269 500
Engine: 1395cc 4 cylinder turbo-charged petrol
Power (kW): 90
Torque (Nm): 200
Acceleration (0-100km/h): 9.3
Top Speed (km/h): 203
Fuel Consumption (l/100km): 5.2
First published in Autodealer KZN