By on October 30, 2012

Yesterday, a car developed (mostly) for and (mostly) in China was presented at a gala event in Wolfsburg. Volkswagen celebrated the new Santana, and Volkswagen’s lucky entry into the Chinese market some 30 years ago. That’s also how long the old Santana lasted. It was time to replace it, and the time was yesterday.

In 1979, an unannounced Chinese government delegation showed up at Wache Sandkamp, the main gate of the Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg. They were sent to Germany to find a joint venture. Their first stop was (then) Daimler-Benz, where they were treated with less than the expected enthusiasm.

They asked what those other cars on the road were. They were told they were Volkswagens. When the translator said it means “the peoples’ car” the faces of the Chinese lit up, and a train to Wolfsburg was boarded. At a later meeting, current and future Volkswagen were lined up in the Raederhalle in Wolfsburg, the Chinese pointed at the Santana, said “this one” and the rest was history.

The new Santana can be had with ABS, front, side and head airbags, ESC electronic stabilization, air conditioning or automatic climate control, electric sliding sunroof, alloy wheels, parking sensors and leather upholstery.

The Santana is powered by naturally-aspirated four-cylinder specimens of the newly developed EA 211 gasoline engine series. With 16-valve technology and integration of the exhaust manifold in the cylinder head, these engines deliver 28 percent better fuel economy.

The 1.4-liter version  produces 90 hp, the 1.6-liter version makes 110 hp. The new Santana will be built at SAIC in Shanghai. Volkswagen did not say whether it rests on the PQ24 or PQ25 platform, guaranteeing that the topic will keep TTAC readers sleepless for years to come.


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23 Comments on “Volkswagen Launches The New Santana...”

  • avatar

    Bertel, you’ve got mail. Or three…

  • avatar

    Most observers are voting for PQ25, which would make sense as it’s the same platform as used by the Skoda Rapid and SEAT Toledo, an inexpensive choice for a car that must be built at a low cost.

    At least in the photos the car looks good enough that it could be sold in North America, too, as VW’s entry-level model. But I doubt VWoA has any plans for Chinese (or Brazilian?) imports of the Santana …

  • avatar

    If the original Santana is based on the B2 Passat, which it is, and the B2 came around in 1981, seems like it’s not quite 40 years.

    • 0 avatar

      [Rolling eyes]
      The orig. Santana was launched in Germany in 1981. The first negotiations leading to the joint venture with the Chinese were held before that. (See above.) I was there. I myself saw first prototypes in 1980.

      Actually, both the Passat B2 and the Santana were based on the Audi 80 B2, which had appeared in 1978. The Santana was a better equipped Audi 80, which wreaked havoc with the branding. It was a failure in Germany, but a huge success in China.

  • avatar

    You’ve got to change your evil ways, baby.

  • avatar

    That looks a lot nicer than the watered-down Jetta we get here in the states…

  • avatar

    The rear 3/4 view reminds me a lot of the Cruze.

  • avatar

    I see a lot of US-spec Jetta in the design. This should sell very well in China, as VWs are thought of very highly there. Every time I go to Beijing, I am struck by two things: (1) the traffic is stunning, and (2) damn there’s a lot of German cars on the road.

  • avatar

    hi Bertel!

    Pq 24 or 25? Why doesn’t VW answer already???

    Now, to see how well it can/could compete with others like it in Brazil (Logan, Cobalt, Grand Siena, Versa), 3 questions:

    – How long is wheelbase (in meters pls.)?
    – How wide is it?
    – What’s the trunk’s capacity (in liters pls.)?

    BTW, excellent insider’s story! Loved it. I know you have many more, keep them coming pls.!

    • 0 avatar

      Marcelo, it looks like it’s PQ25, although not confirmed by VW. 2630 mm wheelbase and 480 L of trunk space. No word on length, width or height, but both the Seat Toledo and Skoda Rapid are within a few mm of 1700 mm width.

      All three numbers look very close to that of the Logan. But given that the Skoda Rapid costs 30% more in India than the Logan, err, Mahindra Verito, I expect that the Santana and Logan will not be quite direct competitors.

      • 0 avatar

        Thanks th009!

        That wheelbase is very competitive with cars I mentioned. Trunk is smaller though. The width and height sort of depend on each other, but all in all it looks competitive with the others. Has to get here before it gets stale!

        As to price, in Brazil, no brainer. I got this from the horse’s mouth himself (or the one at VW responsible for this). Fiat sets price. VW sets a price 5-10% higher. Renault and Nissan price it less than Fiat by 5-10%. That’s the way things are in Brazil right now.

      • 0 avatar

        Sounds like the pricing scheme used by BMW, Audi and Mercedes in North America!

  • avatar

    I know the term “Beige” gets thrown around a bunch, but it’s a little excessive when your beige car is actually beige. They should really outlaw the color for exteriors (a nice tan/beige interior, on the other hand…)

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    “Volkswagen did not say whether it rests on the PQ24 or PQ25 platform, guaranteeing that the topic will keep TTAC readers sleepless for years to come”

    It doesn’t matter anyway. Average customer won’t care.

    Predictably, no downsizing for so called emerging markets.

    Looks like a baby Passat/Jetta. I bet it will sell like hotcakes.

  • avatar

    Hopefully it will replace the taxis here in Shanghai soon. The Santana as it is here, just feels like a deathtrap to me.

  • avatar

    Do they get real Leather upholstery or the V-Tex Leatherette?

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