Evolution - is the Golf still a Golf?
We've been intending to start a new regular feature that tracks the evolution of certain cars into what they are now, and last week's Golf 7 reveal seems like a perfect place to start.
That said, methinks the Golf 7 warrants more of a debate than a history lesson, which is why it's just become the latest victim of the weekly opinionated rant that we'll share between myself, our bike expert Dave Abrahams and various Star Motoring writers and editors.
Looking at that rather neat picture spread of the seven generations, then reading about all its technological feats, there's no denying that this new Golf desperately wants to be an over-achiever.
Its options list reads like that of an Audi A8 - read about the Golf in more detail here - and it's also lighter and more economical than before. Even if you point a finger at the stylists for being too conservative, I'll bet you that the target market are not going to be bombarding their inbox with much hate mail.
In fact, the most impressive achievement on VW's part is how its Golf label has scurried up that very important aspirational ladder in people's minds. I can't name the number of times I've heard upwardly mobile people use the word 'latest Golf' and 'promotion' in the same sentence.
It's just so far cry from the Golf 1.
Granted, progression has its place and there will always be fat demand for progressed cars like the Golf 7. But I bet there would be a lot more demand, particularly in developing countries like South Africa, for a new Golf 1.
Now I'm not suggesting for a second that the Golf 7 be thrown on the trash pile or that they bring back the Citi Golf that drove into the sunset two years ago.
My point is that VW should design a spiritual successor to the Golf 1.
Right now the Polo Vivo's filling those shoes, but it's getting long in the tooth and it's hardly exciting. Neither are the cars in its price range with names like Renault Sandero, Ford Figo, Nissan Micra and Toyota Etios.
Want to bag a decent-sized new car without spending a lot of money? A bowl of flavourless porridge is what's on the menu.
Yes the Golf 1 was basic, but it was anything but bland. Hey, it was actually good fun to drive.
Now if Nissan can sell its latest Micra, which is bigger than a city car yet perfectly safe and modern, for less than R120 000, then surely VW can create an inexpensive small car that ticks these boxes.
And surely making it more interesting to look at and more involving to drive than the Japanese car I've just mentioned is not going to add much to the R&D or tooling bill.
Of course, the Golf 7 has its place further up in ze hierarchy. But VW also needs a Golf 1 for the modern era, regardless of what they call it.