In addition to expanding electromobility, the Volkswagen Group is building on new models powered by natural gas. In the past, Volkswagen offered bivalent solutions with natural gas and petrol due to the scarce CNG filling stations. The new generations of the Polo and Golf are delivered with three natural gas tanks. With the new Golf TGI, the range has increased by a good 80 km compared to the previous model. The small petrol tank, on the other hand, only serves as a reserve. The long-term advantage lies in a better CO2 balance due to the possible use of biomethane or e-gas. Biomethane is obtained from plant residues, e-gas from excess green electricity (power-to-gas) that is added to the fuels. How does the monovalent Golf prove itself in everyday life?
A 1.5 liter TGI four-cylinder engine with 96 kW / 130 PS is used as the new power unit in the Golf TGI. The engines are turbocharged direct injection engines. The two built-in camshafts are driven by a toothed belt; the shaft is phase adjustable on the inlet side. The advantage is a maximum of 200 Nm over a relatively wide speed range between 1.400 and 4.000 rpm. As a four-cylinder, the engine is easy-revving and moves the Golf with agility in everyday life. In the TGI version of the Golf, the six-speed manual gearbox or the 7-speed DSG gearbox is currently available.
TGI - the inner values
At the moment it is still unclear whether natural gas will prevail as an alternative to diesel. One advantage of the new Golf for customers who rely on natural gas is the fact that it is equipped with three natural gas tanks with a capacity of 17,3 kg of natural gas. Biogas is now increasingly being offered at filling stations. In operation, the TGI thus drives at least CO2-neutral. From an economic point of view, the biggest advantage comes from the petrol station. In Germany, the cost advantage is around 20 percent due to the tax advantages over diesel and around 40 percent over gasoline. Refueling is currently for less than 20 euros for a range of around 400 kilometers (422 kilometers according to WLTP).
The seventh generation of the VW Golf has sufficient dimensions and is designed for up to 5 adults in terms of space. The length of the Golf has meanwhile grown to 4,26 meters. These are dimensions that leave even the ancestor Golf of the first series far behind. The increase in space is clearly noticeable, especially for the seats on the rear bench. Adults will find sufficient legroom - even with the front seats pushed back. Since the golf debut, the dimensions have grown continuously.
The interior design appeals to several generations. The smartphone connection for Apple or Android devices and a largely digitized instrumentation reflect the zeitgeist of the younger generation. Depending on the version, a high-resolution touchscreen is placed as a multimedia display in the center console.
Consumption costs and practical use
In the version we tested, the TGI complies with the Euro 6d-TEMP-EVAP (WLTP) emissions standard. The consumption data in natural gas operation are interesting. During our test period, we had optimal conditions with summer temperatures of 15 to 25 ° C. At these temperatures and with predominant use on short journeys and country roads, we came to an average of consumption values between 3,5 to 4,5 kg of natural gas with an average of various route profiles. On this basis, a range of between 350 and 400 km can be achieved with the existing tanks in summer. With the highest load, around 300 km can be achieved in natural gas mode.
Most of the car customers will be interested in the economic benefits in terms of consumption in order to compensate for the higher purchase price. For a 100 km route in summer around EUR 4,50 had to be paid for natural gas and around EUR 8 for gasoline. The price of natural gas was between 1,05 and 1,15 euros and gasoline between 1,35 and 1,45 euros.
The higher capacity of the natural gas tanks is clearly noticeable, in this version you are only dependent on the petrol tank in exceptional situations. This is a decisive purchase factor for customers, as the density of filling stations for natural gas in Germany is very different. Those who want more comprehensive information in advance can use the overview maps from “Gas24” or “Erdgas.info” on the Internet or a smartphone app from “Natural gas filling stations in Germany”. The comprehensive navigation system in the Comfortline we tested shows the nearest natural gas filling station and navigates directly to the fuel pump.
If you can't get by with natural gas, there is still a small “reserve” with a 9-liter petrol tank for the journey. Ultimately, a monovalent design based on natural gas propulsion is probably the only sensible way forward. Natural gas has an octane number of 130, which means that higher compression can be achieved with much better efficiency than with gasoline drives.
A compact car like the VW Golf is used as a classic car in private households. The driving profile is primarily characterized by many short and medium-distance trips with a relatively high annual mileage. In this user environment, diesel will be used less in the future with the threat of driving bans. And here there is a possible field of application for the monovalent Golf TGI.
The monovalent solution for the future
With the bivalent solution, the trunk is of course a little smaller, losing almost 100 liters of volume compared to the diesel and petrol versions. That is a complete suitcase less space in everyday life. The price surcharge compared to the 130 hp petrol engine, which is also available with the DSG, is currently 3.000 euros. If you consider the pure savings in consumption and the good resale value due to the better exhaust gas values, the additional costs for a new purchase are balanced out again within three to five years of use.
The Golf TGI as a bivalent solution with a focus on natural gas is an economical solution and an alternative to gasoline engines in terms of CO2 values. The current version of the Golf is characterized by high functionality and a sophisticated ergonomic cockpit. Anyone who gets by with a little less trunk and can live with the fact that there is not a natural gas filling station on every street corner will quickly make friends with a car like the Golf TGI as a monovalent solution.
Test from summer 2019
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