Longer, wider, roomier and lighter, the next-gen Golf will hit U.S. shores in early 2013.

Volkswagen has formally revealed its seventh-generation Golf, a model that doesn't depart dramatically from its predecessors but undeniably moves the hatchback more upmarket.

The next Golf's design was penned by Walter da Silva, the head of Volkswagen's design department. It boasts a sleeker profile than the current model and wider, roomier and 2.2 inches longer. However, it stays in line with the German brand's current design theme and the images show a silhouette that is not drastically different than the sixth-generation Golf.

The front end of the Golf VII gains angular headlights and a thinner grille that are both reminiscent of the smaller Polo hatchback. Out back, the tail lamps are longer and the hatch features an elegant crease in the sheetmetal.

The seventh-generation Golf inaugurates a new italic font for the trunk-mounted emblem that reveals what engine lies under the hood. The font will be gradually fitted to every member of the Volkswagen lineup. The emblem that denotes the model stays the same.

Much like the exterior, the next Golf's interior is more of an evolution than a revolution. The steering wheel, the instrument cluster and the air vents are all similar to those of the sixth-generation model, although the dashboard itself is considerably more evocative. The center console is slightly tilted towards the driver and features a touch screen that lets occupants control the car's infotainment system.

The details

All seventh-generation Golf models will ride on the group's new MQB modular platform, which is cheaper to produce than the current generation. MQB stands for Modularer Querbauksten, a term which can be roughly translated to modular transverse matrix. The platform will be the basis of a vast number of Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda and SEAT products in the coming years.

All-wheel drive and an updated version of VW's Dynamic Chassis Control active dampers will be optional. While VW hasn't revealed North American-market specifics, it has stated that a specially-equipped European-market version powered by its 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder - the same engine reportedly earmarked for us - nets 49 mpg combined on the European cycle, which differs greatly from the EPA's tests.

The seventh-generation Golf is expected to reach U.S. shores in early 2013. Pricing information will be announced closer to its launch.

Live images by Ronan Glon.