SPY SHOTS: 2012 Volkswagen Golf Mk7 Test Mule

What at first blush appears to be the current VW Golf, is in fact a test mule for the all-new, seventh generation of Volkswagen's best-selling model, which is planned to hit showrooms worldwide sometime in 2012.

Although hidden under bodywork from the current car, the blistered and wider wheel-arches are a clear indication that the test mule is running the next generation Golf's underpinnings.

More specifically, the Mk7 will be built on the VW Group's more space-efficient and, according to sources, substantially lighter, MQB platform that comes with a longer wheelbase and shorter overhangs. First seen on the new Sharan minivan, the flexible MQB platform will be used on a raft of VW Group models including the next Audi A3, which is expected to be revealed either in late 2011 or early 2012.

Under the bonnet, the Golf Mk7 will feature the latest generation of turbocharged petrol engines with direct injection and fuel-efficient turbo diesels, ranging from a small-displacement 1.2 TSI all the way up to upgraded versions of the 2.0 TSI in the GTI and the 'R' AWD sport models.

Volkswagen has already confirmed that it will also offer an all-electric, plug-in variant as well as hybrid [gasoline-electric or diesel-electric] versions of the new Golf.

The Golf EV plug-in model will make its market debut in 2013 and according to the automaker, it will be equipped with an electric motor delivering 115HP and 270Nm / 199 lb-ft to the front wheels and a set of lithium ion batteries. In the current development phase, that combination is said to offer a driving range of up to 150 kilometers or 93 miles.

Given that Volkswagen has not yet started to test actual Mk7 prototypes, it's hard to say what the next Golf will look like. However, the new Jetta saloon with its sharper profile and snout as well as some video shots of an early clay model that we showed you last year (see pictures below), should provide some hints for the styling.

Along with the three- and five-door hatchback body styles, the new Golf will form the base for a range of future models including a convertible, estate and the successors to the Scirocco and Touran MPV.

Pink Audi A1 Art Car by Hirst Fetches Over Half a Million Dollars

The special auction item of Elton John's White Tie & Tiara Ball on Thursday night (June 24), a brand-new Audi A1 art car painted by Britain's Damien Hirst, surpassed all expectations by fetching a whopping £350,000 or about US$522,500 / €425,000.

All proceeds from the auction will benefit The Elton John AIDS Foundation, which is said to be one of the 10 largest AIDS grant making organizations in the world, managing over £14 million in programmes across 15 countries.

Ford Thunderbird Owners Celebrate 55th Anniversary with Deaborn Meeting [with 164 Photos]

Close to 300 Ford Thunderbirds from every year of production and their owners are making their way today [Saturday, June 28] to the automaker's headquarters in Dearborn, to honor the model's 55th anniversary with a special car show that will kick off at noon and run until 4 pm.

"The Ford Thunderbird is one of the most iconic products in the history of the automobile," said Jim Farley, Ford's group vice president of Global Marketing. "Each generation of the Thunderbird had a unique personality that ushered in a new generation of breakthroughs in design or technology."

The Thunderbird began life in 1954 with Ford presenting a total of 11 generations of the model through to 2005 that included two-seaters, roadsters, convertibles and four-door models, as well as hardtops and sedans. In its 51 year lifespan, Ford sold more than 4.3 million examples of the T-Bird. There are no current plans to revive the "Thunderbird" nameplate. However, you can check out a design proposal for a new generation of the model here.