The Truth About Cars » Volkswagen http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 21 Dec 2014 12:52:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Volkswagen http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/reviews/volkswagen/ Seven Finalists Announced For Europe’s 2015 Car of the Year http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/seven-finalists-announced-europes-2015-car-year/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/seven-finalists-announced-europes-2015-car-year/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 11:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=961993 After months of deliberation, Europe’s Car of the Year panel has narrowed down the field of 31 to seven finalists. Autoblog reports the panel has chosen the following nominees for the 2015 Car of the Year: BMW 2 Series Active Tourer Citroën C4 Cactus Ford Mondeo Mercedes-Benz C-Class Nissan Qashqai Renault Twingo Volkswagen Passat The […]

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After months of deliberation, Europe’s Car of the Year panel has narrowed down the field of 31 to seven finalists.

Autoblog reports the panel has chosen the following nominees for the 2015 Car of the Year:

  • BMW 2 Series Active Tourer
  • Citroën C4 Cactus
  • Ford Mondeo
  • Mercedes-Benz C-Class
  • Nissan Qashqai
  • Renault Twingo
  • Volkswagen Passat

The winner will be announced during the 2015 Geneva Auto Show this coming March. Previous winners include the Peugeot 308, Volkswagen Golf and Opel Ampera, with the first title awarded 50 years ago to the 1964 Rover 2000.

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UAW Proposing Works Council At VW Tennessee Plant ‘Soon’ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/uaw-proposing-works-council-vw-tennessee-plant-soon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/uaw-proposing-works-council-vw-tennessee-plant-soon/#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 12:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=957865 Now that the United Auto Workers have won full access to Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tenn. factory under VW’s community engagement policy, what will it do with its newfound power? Propose a works council, of course. Automotive News reports the UAW would make the proposal “soon,” with an initiative planned to train those at its Local 42 […]

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Now that the United Auto Workers have won full access to Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tenn. factory under VW’s community engagement policy, what will it do with its newfound power? Propose a works council, of course.

Automotive News reports the UAW would make the proposal “soon,” with an initiative planned to train those at its Local 42 “on Volkswagen’s unique style of labor-management relations… creating something new and doing it in a collaborative relationship with the global group works council,” per regional director Ray Curry.

Further down the road, secretary-treasurer Gary Casteel said the union would make its ultimate push toward representation of the 1,500 employees at the facility, though the policy prohibits collective bargaining by recognized groups on behalf of said employees.

As to how the UAW would accomplish this, Casteel — who didn’t say how many employees were members of Local 42 — said the union didn’t have a clear idea, but ruled out another election — like the one it lost earlier in 2014 — or conducting a card check.

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Volkswagen Unveils Plans For 5 Series/E-Class Fighter http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/volkswagen-unveils-plans-5-seriese-class-fighter/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/volkswagen-unveils-plans-5-seriese-class-fighter/#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 11:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=957841 The world is not enough for Volkswagen AG, as it now has plans to introduce a mid-size sedan to slot between the Passat and the Phaeton. AutoBild reports the proposed model will do battle with the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class, with sedan and wagon variants on the table, with U.S. and Chinese markets […]

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The world is not enough for Volkswagen AG, as it now has plans to introduce a mid-size sedan to slot between the Passat and the Phaeton.

AutoBild reports the proposed model will do battle with the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class, with sedan and wagon variants on the table, with U.S. and Chinese markets receiving the sedan while the Europeans can buy either style.

Regarding platforms for the sedan, VW is considering either its MQB architecture — following the next-gen Passat in 2017 — or Audi’s MLB platform, which underpins the A6. Power is expected to come from four- and six-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines, and would be linked to all four corners via DSG and Audi’s Quattro AWD system.

The proposed base price for the model would begin at €37,500 ($46,500 USD), and would be assembled in either China, Mexico or North America. The new model would go on sale sometime near the end of this decade.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI Manual http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/capsule-review-2015-volkswagen-golf-1-8-tsi-manual/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/capsule-review-2015-volkswagen-golf-1-8-tsi-manual/#comments Tue, 09 Dec 2014 13:31:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=950089 13 years ago, the Golf-based Volkswagen GTI produced 180 horsepower from a 1.8L turbocharged four-cylinder powerplant. Over the last week, I’ve been driving a brand new Golf that’s also fitted with a 1.8L turbocharged four-cylinder. It generates 170 horsepower. In 2002, you could pair Volkswagen’s 1.8T with a 6-speed manual transmission. Our test car used […]

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2015 Volkswagen Golf TSI13 years ago, the Golf-based Volkswagen GTI produced 180 horsepower from a 1.8L turbocharged four-cylinder powerplant. Over the last week, I’ve been driving a brand new Golf that’s also fitted with a 1.8L turbocharged four-cylinder. It generates 170 horsepower.

In 2002, you could pair Volkswagen’s 1.8T with a 6-speed manual transmission. Our test car used a 5-speed manual.

Is this progress? Strangely, yes.

To begin with, the horsepower comparison is deceiving. The new car makes way more torque: 185 lb-ft at 1600 rpm compared with 173 lb-ft at 1950 rpm. There’s also progress in the form of efficiency: It travels 25% farther on a gallon of fuel, according to EPA testing procedures. On regular fuel. The old car drank premium.

Though it’s not a spec-sheet superstar, the new 1.8T is still a very quick car when mated to the 5-speed manual. And though the transmission would surely benefit from a tall sixth gear and feels as though it could use more tightly spaced ratios, shift quality is excellent. The clutch is friendly, with no learning curve required.

2015 Volkswagen Golf TSIOver the course of a decade and multiple generations, the Golf has made gains. Not in terms of outright power, but in overall refinement and the quality of the driving experience. These upgrades are unlikely to change the fact that most American small car buyers won’t consider a Golf. Like the well-behaved child who always carries his dishes back to the sink with two hands and efficiently and correctly finishes his homework, but who still sees all his parents’ attention paid to his delinquent little brother, der neue base Golf does its level best but still isn’t as desirable as its siblings.

This four-door, manual-shift Golf, loaned to us for a week-long visit by Volkswagen Canada, would carry a USD base price of $21,515, delivery included. As a mid-grade Comfortline example with one option package, this Golf featured a sunroof, leatherette upholstery, and dual-zone climate control. Absent the optional Fender system, audio quality was still more than acceptable. Volkswagen’s 2.0L turbodiesel adds $1300 or less to the cost in the United States. In Canada, where the price of diesel fuel is more closely comparable to the price of regular gasoline, it’s a $2500 upcharge.

With fuzzy carpeting spread across the front doors’ storage compartments and a dash covered in material so squeezable I expected fruit juice to come pouring out, there’s no doubt that the Golf’s perceived quality quotient tops the class. The infotainment system, on the other hand, lags — both in actual use and behind the segment leaders like Mazda Connect. It’s not a terrible system to use – I liked how it allowed me to scroll through satellite radio stations without actually selecting one – but the graphics and operational speed are behind the times. The 5.8-inch screen also seems too small for a proper backup camera, or is it just that the camera isn’t a particularly good one, washed out as it was in daylight and too dim later in the day?

Golf (13 of 13)Comfort is a key Golf edge, with first-rate seats and a huge range of adjustment for both seats and steering wheel. Wind and road noise is just something the owners of other small cars encounter; the Golf offers a proper luxury car ambience, only decontented.

Rear seat space doesn’t impress, however, as the placement of the especially narrow Diono Radian RXT carseat in the middle position required adults alongside to slam the door directly into their hip. Sure, it’s a small car, but many small cars these days offer more usable interior width. Hatchback versions of the Hyundai Elantra, Mazda 3, and Subaru Impreza all have more overall space for humans.

The Golf does possess a bit more space behind the rear seat than the 3 and Impreza, however, and the cargo area is shaped like a box with little intrusion. Seats-down capacity beats the Elantra, as well. Of course, all are surprisingly practical cars, yet they also help to clarify the appeal of small crossovers, as our Baby Jogger Summit X3 needed its wheels removed if it was to fit under the cargo cover in the Golf. Where’s the Golf R wagon when you need it?

Like virtually all continuing nameplates, the Golf has certainly grown over the span of generations. This Mk7 car is 167.5 inches long on a wheelbase of 103.8 inches; 2.6 inches longer than the Mk4 car we mentioned earlier with a wheelbase that’s been stretched nearly five inches. Yet the growth has been contained. Relative to modern machines, the current Golf is just under two feet shorter than a new Toyota Camry and just 7.5 inches longer than the 2015 Honda Fit. It’s 14.7 inches shorter than the latest Jetta, with slightly less wheelbase and slightly greater width.

Golf (3 of 13)Those tidy dimensions are central to the Golf’s on-road appeal. It’s as tossable as a properly set-up subcompact but as unflustered as a much larger car. Mid-corner pavement protrusions don’t bother the Golf even when you’re driving as enthusiastically as you might in its GTI sibling. The Golf’s brake pedal could be firmed up, but the weight of other controls is in keeping with the car’s mission. It’s not a hot hatch, but there’s no mistaking this ordinary Golf (on unaggressive 205/55R16 Continental ContiProContacts) for anything other than the foundation of a great hot hatch. With quicker turn in, sharper throttle response, and just a little more stiffness in the suspension, it would be a wonderful all-rounder. It is not crying out for more torque.

A Mazda 3 offers much of the Golf’s driving appeal but lacks its hushed cabin and always-serene ride quality. Subaru’s Impreza does not come close to matching the Golf’s upmarket interior but offers Vermont’s favourite all-wheel-drive system. It’s obviously difficult for the Golf to match the value and content of the Hyundai Elantra GT and Kia Forte5, but the driving experiences between those cars and the remarkable Golf are worlds apart.

Over the course of the last ten months – but not in the last two – the Golf lineup has been outsold in the U.S. by its own offspring, the GTI. With the Mk7 now widely available, the non-GTI/R/E Golf lineup doubled its U.S. October volume. Yet at 2351 units, it was by no means a popular car in America. According to HybridCars.com, diesels account for 41% of the non-GTI Golfs sold this year. The Golf family is Germany’s best-selling vehicle line, the UK’s fourth-best-selling vehicle, and Canada’s tenth-best-selling car in October.

2015 Volkswagen Golf cargoAside from a frumpy radio and a sunroof visor which crudely slides back and forth, the Golf is an impressive piece, not just lacking in glaring faults but full of admirable elements. One might wonder why Americans are so indifferent, until one realizes that this compact hatch costs about as much as a base Camry. The Golf 1.8 TSI is a car I want, it’s just not a car I want to pay for, not with these interior dimensions and not on this continent. Not when this car travelled 28 miles per gallon in a mix of city and highway driving while the last Golf TDI we tested did 41.

Oh, summon a little compassion for the well-behaved gas-fired Golf. Even when reviewed positively, the whole story deteriorates into praise of its oil-burning sibling. We might as well pile on by mentioning the superior styling of the Mk1’s round headlights.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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UAW Local Wins Full Access To VW Chattanooga Factory http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/uaw-local-wins-full-access-vw-chattanooga-factory/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/uaw-local-wins-full-access-vw-chattanooga-factory/#comments Mon, 08 Dec 2014 23:30:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=957098 It’s official: The United Auto Workers have won the right to hold meetings at Volkswagen AG’s Chattanooga, Tenn. facility, further paving the path toward full organization. Chattanooga Times Free Press reports UAW Local 42 reached the third and highest tier of VW’s community organization engagement policy Monday, allowing the local to hold biweekly meetings with […]

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It’s official: The United Auto Workers have won the right to hold meetings at Volkswagen AG’s Chattanooga, Tenn. facility, further paving the path toward full organization.

Chattanooga Times Free Press reports UAW Local 42 reached the third and highest tier of VW’s community organization engagement policy Monday, allowing the local to hold biweekly meetings with plant officials, as well as to reserve and use on-site locations for non-work meetings with staff and employees as needed, access to the factory’s Conference Center for internal employee meetings once per month during non-work hours, and post announcements and information in designated areas.

UAW secretary-treasurer Gary Casteel said the local was ready to take advantage of its new status, beginning by establishing biweekly meetings with both HR and the Volkswagen Chattanooga Executive Committee. The third and highest tier of the policy — and the benefits entailed — is reached when an organizing body nets at least 45 percent of the factory floor’s employees.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/capsule-review-2015-volkswagen-golf-1-8-tsi/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/capsule-review-2015-volkswagen-golf-1-8-tsi/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 15:30:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=949281 For all its foibles, I loved the 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine in the Volkswagen parts bin. It provided an audible grunt you couldn’t get anywhere else for the same amount of money and, in its early days, was the best way to buy cheap torque without going diesel or turbo. Thanks to a finer focus on […]

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2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI (4 of 30)

For all its foibles, I loved the 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine in the Volkswagen parts bin. It provided an audible grunt you couldn’t get anywhere else for the same amount of money and, in its early days, was the best way to buy cheap torque without going diesel or turbo.

Thanks to a finer focus on fuel efficiency — a strength the five-pot did not possess — the base 2.5-litre is now gone. Instead, we have a new 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, dubbed 1.8T or 1.8 TSI, delivering the same amount of horsepower, more torque, and better fuel economy than the outgoing 2.5 five-cylinder.

Our tester for the week, a 2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI Comfortline (Canada), is the mid-trim option in the Golf lineup and equipped with a five-speed manual transmission. Ticking off the optional Convenience Package adds automatic headlights, auto-dimming rearview mirror, Climatronic dual-zone electronic climate control, light assist, Panorama tilt and slide power sunroof, and rain sensing wipers. The whole package before taxes and freight rings in at $24,590 CAD.

(For you folks living in Canada’s pants bemoaning my Canadian pricing, it’s hard to find an equivalent in the US Golf trim matrix that matches up, so you’ll have to do a little digging on your own.)

2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI (28 of 30)

The new 1.8 TSI is a fantastic little motor but does miss some of the charm of the old 2.5 inline-5. Thanks to the wizardry of turbocharging, the four-cylinder produces a very healthy 170 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque. It also does duty in other Volkswagen lineup models, such as the Beetle and Jetta.

It won’t leave your wallet empty at the pumps either, returning 7.6L/100km (31 MPG) and running on regular gas instead of premium.

The rush of torque comes on fairly early and the most fun is had when shifting at least 1,000 rpm before redline so you can feel the torque through each gear change. This is a car that will actually reward you for shifting slowly and letting the revs drop a bit.

2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI (17 of 30)

The five-speed manual is crisp, notchy, and great for people who actually enjoy rowing their way through the gears. With solid feedback and tight gating, the gearbox might be a little too much for the novice driver though. I’d suggest the Fiesta with its long throws and lighter feedback for that crowd. But, for those who’ve already mastered the third pedal, this is as good a choice as any, except for the fact it is down a gear versus a few of its competitors.

Being the first Golf to ride on the new MQB Volkswagen platform also brings with it new characteristics in ride and handling. The Golf now rides like a much bigger car, smoothing out the bumps in the road while the body stays relatively stable. The softer ride does mean the Golf suffers slightly when chucking it around corners. But, unless you are trying to recreate the car chase scene from Ronin, you should be just fine.

There are two trends Volkswagen has bucked with the new Golf — one for the better and the other for the worse.

The first one comes down to design, as the Golf eschews the sloped rear glass used by the Mazda3 Sport and other hatchbacks in favour of a more two-box silhouette. This gives the Golf decent cargo space in the rear. Also, and this is the big kicker, Volkswagen hasn’t brought the beltline up to such a level that makes it hard to see out of the rear of the car. While the Golf gets a nifty backup camera hidden behind the VW badge, you don’t need to rely on the camera to reverse from a parking space. That’s a very welcomed surprise.

2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI (6 of 30)

But, the one trend where Volkswagen really needs to play catch up is from an infotainment point of you. Specifically, the Golf has a serious lack of USB ports, and by that I mean it has exactly zero of them. Instead, Volkswagen still wants you to use the proprietary iPod connector and a car charger that pops into the plug that used to be a cigarette lighter. VW — you should really know better.

Also a point of pain is the beige-and-black two tone interior available on Comfortline models in Canada. While the materials are top drawer, the two-tone scheme cheapens it all just a bit. Again, VW — you should really know better.

2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI (14 of 30)

Even with these slight issues, the Golf is a solid contender (though, if I were at Motor Trend, I wouldn’t be giving the Golf a Car of the Year award). For those who enjoy driving but don’t necessarily enjoy the firm ride, compromised visibility, or stick-on infotainment screen of the Mazda3, this is your next choice. Also, turbocharging makes everything a bit more fun.

But, if you desire something with slightly sharper handling, USB ports, or an interior that doesn’t mutter how boring you are, there are other options.

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VW Bringing Golf SportWagen 4Motion, Alltrack To US In 2016 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/vw-bringing-golf-sportwagen-4motion-alltrack-us-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/vw-bringing-golf-sportwagen-4motion-alltrack-us-2016/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 13:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=949993 Looking to muscle in upon Subaru territory, Volkswagen will be bringing over the Golf SportWagen 4Motion in standard and Alltrack models for 2016. Automotive News reports the plan was announced by Volkswagen Group of America CEO Michael Horn during last week’s LA Auto Show, citing demand from dealers and consumers alike. The Alltrack variant, unveiled […]

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Looking to muscle in upon Subaru territory, Volkswagen will be bringing over the Golf SportWagen 4Motion in standard and Alltrack models for 2016.

Automotive News reports the plan was announced by Volkswagen Group of America CEO Michael Horn during last week’s LA Auto Show, citing demand from dealers and consumers alike.

The Alltrack variant, unveiled at the 2014 Paris Auto Show, will be paired against the Subaru XV Crosstrek with the aim of capturing a piece of the U.S. small crossover market, gain more overall U.S. market share, as well as using more of the Puebla, Mexico factory where the Golf is assembled now.

As for the standard SportWagen, FWD versions will arrive sometime this coming spring, while tooling for the AWD 2016 model is beginning to be installed. Horn expects the SportWagen to make up 50 percent of all Golf sales once VW completes its lineup expansion.

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VW Establishes New Labor Organization Engagement Policy For Chattanooga Plant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/vw-establishes-new-labor-organization-engagement-policy-chattanooga-plant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/vw-establishes-new-labor-organization-engagement-policy-chattanooga-plant/#comments Thu, 13 Nov 2014 14:00:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=944745 Without mentioning the United Auto Workers by name, Volkswagen established a new policy that would allow organized labor groups to hold meetings at its Chattanooga, Tenn. plant, as well as speak with executives. Automotive News reports the Community Organization Engagement policy cannot be used to “claim or request recognition as the exclusive collective bargaining agent […]

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Without mentioning the United Auto Workers by name, Volkswagen established a new policy that would allow organized labor groups to hold meetings at its Chattanooga, Tenn. plant, as well as speak with executives.

Automotive News reports the Community Organization Engagement policy cannot be used to “claim or request recognition as the exclusive collective bargaining agent for any group of employees,” but does allow those groups three levels of access and dialogue with the plant’s top brass when a given group represents at least 15 percent of the employees.

The first level grants groups who represent 15 percent of the floor the right to hold a meeting once a month during non-work hours, along with monthly meetings with VW HR, and the ability to post announcements. The second level — 30 percent representation — allows groups to meet once a week, as well as invite non-employee group personnel to meet up once per month, and quarterly meetings with the Volkswagen Chattanooga Executive Committee. Finally, groups who represent 45 percent or more of the floor can reserve floor spaces “as reasonably needed,” meet with HR biweekly, and the executive committee monthly.

Eligibility for any of the tiers includes adhering to the standards set by the National Labor Relations Board, with membership rolls evaluated by a third party twice per year.

UAW treasurer Gary Casteel said his union would soon meet with VW officials to “remind them” of the commitments made between the union and the automaker earlier this year in Germany, as well as offering to help verify the roll for UAW Local 42, which claims to have more than a majority of the plant’s 3,200-plus workers.

Meanwhile, American Council of Employees interim president Sean Moss applauded the policy, proclaiming Volkswagen had “officially recognized the need for a local group that puts the needs and interests of its members ahead of outside political forces,” and ensures groups aside from the UAW have a say in how the plant will be organized.

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VW Unveils New 10-Speed DSG, Other Technologies From Innovation Workshop http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/vw-unveils-new-10-speed-dsg-technologies-innovation-workshop/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/vw-unveils-new-10-speed-dsg-technologies-innovation-workshop/#comments Wed, 12 Nov 2014 11:00:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=944441 At its 2014 Innovation Workshop, Volkswagen unveiled an assortment of technologies, ranging from doors that open and close automatically, to 10-speed transmissions and more powerful diesels. On the powertrain front, the aforementioned 10-speed DSG will handle engine power up to 406 lb-ft of torque, while the layout of its gear steps helps further lower CO2 […]

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At its 2014 Innovation Workshop, Volkswagen unveiled an assortment of technologies, ranging from doors that open and close automatically, to 10-speed transmissions and more powerful diesels.

On the powertrain front, the aforementioned 10-speed DSG will handle engine power up to 406 lb-ft of torque, while the layout of its gear steps helps further lower CO2 emissions. Meanwhile, the new 239 horsepower twin-turbo diesel unit in the Passat could be pushed to 268 horsepower with electric assist, variable valve trains, and an optimized gas exchange cycle. The mill also burns a gallon of diesel for every 44 miles, while VW’s newest stop-start system cuts power at 4 mph, as well as at higher speeds when the accelerator is released. A mild hybrid system uses energy recovery to further efficiency.

Inside, the driver will be able to make use of either Apple’s CarPlay or Google’s Android Auto thanks to the latest version of MirrorLink and its App Connect software. VW also introduced a prototype navigation system that “takes notes” of where the driver prefers to go without the need to be first called upon. They can also check on their car’s vitals via updates to VW’s Car Net’s Security & Service suite, connecting drivers to the Internet to determine what fluids, if any, need to be topped-up prior to a trip, as one example.

Other technologies on display at this year’s workshop include dashboards and glass sunroofs whose pigments and coatings block infrared radiation; lightweight construction and materials techniques derived from motorsport — specifically the 2014 Polo R WRC; and need-based air-conditioning systems for EVs such as the e-up! and e-Golf.

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Track Tested: 2013 VW Passat SE 2.5L 6A http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/track-tested-2013-vw-passat-se-2-5l-6a/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/track-tested-2013-vw-passat-se-2-5l-6a/#comments Thu, 09 Oct 2014 12:30:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=927834 When I reviewed the most recent Passat 1.8TSI I confessed to liking the car, even if it wasn’t anywhere close to being the G.O.A.T. Therefore, when one of my driving students told me that he’d been unable to source my first recommendation for a non-premium trackday rental — the Camry SE — and had been […]

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When I reviewed the most recent Passat 1.8TSI I confessed to liking the car, even if it wasn’t anywhere close to being the G.O.A.T. Therefore, when one of my driving students told me that he’d been unable to source my first recommendation for a non-premium trackday rental — the Camry SE — and had been stuck with a Passat instead, I was not immediately concerned about our prospects for the weekend.

In hindsight, that was probably incorrect.

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Until recently, most of the Passats sold in this country arrived with the 170-horsepower straight-five, pushing about 3,250 pounds through a six-speed automatic transmission. This was considered to be quite the dynamic package back when you could only get it in an Audi 5000 Turbo, but we live in an era where, ahem, the humble Accord Coupe can be had with 255whp and a 13.9-second quarter-mile. So this VW feels like the proverbial Poky Little Puppy at pretty much all times.

With tires that were worn-out on arrival, brakes that required some trackside bleeding just to be safely usable during the second day, and a pronounced inability to out-pull a Miata 1.6 on Summit Point Shenandoah’s uphill “ski jump”, my student and I weren’t exactly having hot times out there on the ol’ racetrack. It would have been difficult for him to find a car that was less suited for this sort of thing, even among the sad cafe of an Avis lot. Yet I come to praise the Passat, not to bury it.

The key virtues of VW’s aging big sedan remain present even when you’re doing 95mph down Shenandoah’s back straight. To begin with, the visibility is excellent and the beltline is low. This makes more difference than you’d imagine when a driver is just starting his trackday career. Being passed and passing (yes! that happened! We passed someone!) other cars at speed on a track is a profoundly disconcerting thing and it’s hard not to imagine there’s a charging Z06 Vette in every blind spot, even if your instructor has the mirrors and has assured you that he’ll watch for traffic. Therefore, the big greenhouse and good sightlines of this Passat are truly useful.

The same driving position that works so well for long trips is also comfortable for racetrack use, and it’s easy to get the seat and steering wheel in the correct relationship. All the controls fall readily to hand, as the old saying goes, and the efforts associated with those controls are predictable and reassuring. There wasn’t much grip to be had, but what there was could be clearly discerned. The same goes for the brakes — you knew how much you had left and there was usually a little bite available at the end of the travel.

As fate had it, I was driving a considerably more modern and feature-filled sedan at Shenandoah myself this past weekend and I was impressed by the Passat’s feedback and honesty when compared to that sedan, which shall remain nameless for the moment. As a tool for teaching the basics of racetrack driving — consistent brake pressure, single turn-in, unwinding the wheel early, providing predictable and minimal inputs — it really isn’t that bad. If everybody in the “Blue Group” had been driving a Passat, things would have been quite simpatico.

Naturally, however, no one else had a Passat. They had cars that went fast in a straight line, like turbo VWs, and cars that went fast in turns, like Miatas, and cars that do both, like the aforementioned Z06 in both C5 and C6 flavors. Compared to these cars, the Passat was pathetically outmatched and it wasn’t unusual for us to be lapped twice in a session by NISMO 370Zs and the like. It’s just too slow for anybody but the most committed and dedicated individual to use for this purpose.

Luckily for us, my student was both of those things and over the course of four full hours of track driving he improved tremendously, taking perhaps ten seconds a lap or more off his times. He did a good job of managing his brakes and his tires, he was thoughtful and interested when it came to making small improvments and keeping those improvements, and he was safe and predictable during his interactions with other traffic. Next time he’ll probably be driving something faster than a Passat and I’d like to think he’s going to have a lot of success in his future endeavors as a trackday driver and LeMons racer.

Though the VW was in no way rapid, and we had to pull the ABS/ESC/airbag fuse just to keep it from freaking out in Summit Point’s remarkable scale-model concrete Karussel, it was perfectly durable during the weekend. One thing stands out in particular to me: Because the Tiptronic gearbox was relatively slow-witted, and because most drivers find that shifting is a distraction during their first few days on-track, I did all the shifting for my student. Since it wasn’t my car (or, to be fair, his car) I made sure to grab second gear for every slow corner even if it meant zinging the engine to 5000rpm or above. Again and again I grabbed second gear, six times a lap, and every time that poor five-cylinder ran right back up to redline before automatically slamming into third about three seconds after I made the downshift.

This sort of thing is absolute murder on automatic transmissions, transverse-mounted low-torque-capacity transmissions in particular. I would have been nervous about doing it with all but the most recent Hondas, as an example. But the Passat just kept on keeping on.

Due to difficulty with my GoPro and phone I was unable to get laptimes to compare with other cars I’ve driven around Summit Point Shendandoah, from the Corvette C7 (1:39) to the Camry SE (1:54) but I’d say this was the slowest car I’ve ever run on the course by far. Still, it was trustworthy and usable and finished the weekend no worse for wear. Could you have done that with a Dasher or Quantum? Probably not. So my affection for the big Passat remains steady, though if you can afford to get any engine but this one, you’d be silly not to. Good car, big car, decent car. Let’s hope for VW’s sake that’s enough. But if you’re meeting me at the racetrack, would you mind being a sport and getting a Camry?

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Paris 2014: Volkswagen XL Sport Unveiled, Powered By Ducati http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/paris-2014-volkswagen-xl-sport-unveiled-powered-ducati/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/paris-2014-volkswagen-xl-sport-unveiled-powered-ducati/#comments Thu, 02 Oct 2014 10:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=923001 What happens when you mashup Italian motorcycle power with German engineering? The Volkswagen XL Sport happens. The more metal version of the two-seat, hyper-efficient XL1, the XL Sport gets its power from the Ducati 1199 Superleggera sport bike. The two-cylinder 1199cc powerplant pushes 197 horsepower (at 11,000 rpm, no less) and 99 lb-ft of torque […]

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What happens when you mashup Italian motorcycle power with German engineering? The Volkswagen XL Sport happens.

The more metal version of the two-seat, hyper-efficient XL1, the XL Sport gets its power from the Ducati 1199 Superleggera sport bike. The two-cylinder 1199cc powerplant pushes 197 horsepower (at 11,000 rpm, no less) and 99 lb-ft of torque through a seven-speed dual-clutch auto to the back. The vehicle also receives upgrades to the chassis, sport suspension and ceramic brakes.

Aside from having more power and more aggressive bodywork, the XL Sport also sports more weight, coming in at 1,962 pounds — thanks in part to the Ducati two-pot — compared to the XL1’s svelt 1,700 pounds.

Inside, it’s still an XL1 for the most part, but now boasts a digital gauge cluster providing performance data to the driver as they shift the seven-speed via flappy paddle. Polycarbonate windows help reduce weight, but don’t expect to hit the Starbucks drive-thru: the windows are fixed in place.

Despite its supercar looks, the car is as quick off the line as a Ford Fiesta ST, moving from naught to 60 in 5.8 seconds, with a top speed of 168 mph.

Alas, much like the XL1, it’s not likely anyone outside of Europe — if at all, in this case — will ever bring home an XL Sport. Only 250 of the former will be assembled for sale in European markets — deliveries having commenced this summer — retailing for approximately $146,000 USD to start.

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AMA About My Phaeton Ownership Experience http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/ama-phaeton-ownership-experience/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/ama-phaeton-ownership-experience/#comments Thu, 25 Sep 2014 13:03:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=917482 Ah, the Volkswagen Phaeton. Everyone has an opinion about it. It epitomized Piech’s hubris. It is an unmarketable $100,000 Passat. It is essentially a Bentley Continental Flying Spur, but without the bling. It is the greatest car man has ever conceived. Like Alfa Romeo, there’s always a rumor that the Phaeton 2.0 will be returning to […]

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Ah, the Volkswagen Phaeton. Everyone has an opinion about it. It epitomized Piech’s hubris. It is an unmarketable $100,000 Passat. It is essentially a Bentley Continental Flying Spur, but without the bling. It is the greatest car man has ever conceived.

Like Alfa Romeo, there’s always a rumor that the Phaeton 2.0 will be returning to the U.S. of A. in “a few years”. Again, this week, there is a lot of talk about it coming back.

There is a lot of conjecture and Monday morning quarterbacking about the Phaeton. But what is it really like to own one? TTAC’s own Jack Baruth had two. I, a new TTAC contributor, also owned one. I thought it would be fun to answer questions you have always had about the Phaeton. So ask away!

Just to give you a little bit of a back story, I bought a pristine 2005 V8 with barely 30,000 miles in 2011. Its previous, and only, owner was a car collector in Arizona. I had a blast owning it. Sure, I worried about catastrophic failure of the transmission or air suspension that would send me to the poor house, but it never happened. I sold it in 2013 to a local car enthusiast. I had no plans of selling it, but the buyer approached me and offered to buy it for pretty much what I bought it for back in 2011. A friendship was formed and he keeps me updated on our baby.

Some Phaeton trivia I picked up along the way include:

  • The HVAC system contains 25 servomotors to create four distinct climate zones in the cabin.
  • The instrument cluster glass reflects just 0.5% of light, compared to 8%, which is typical for regular instrument cluster glass.
  • Phaeton owners are among the most anal retentive. So many complained to Volkswagen about the uneven rate at which its ashtrays popped out, VW issued a Technical Service Bulletin to remedy the “problem”.

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What questions do you have about owning a Phaeton?

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Volkswagen: Hydrogen Will Struggle Outside of Japan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/volkswagen-hydrogen-will-struggle-outside-japan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/volkswagen-hydrogen-will-struggle-outside-japan/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 13:00:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=909146 While Toyota and the administration of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are going all in on hydrogen, Volkswagen Group Japan President Shigeru Shoji proclaims FCVs will struggle to make headway elsewhere. According to Bloomberg, Shoji says the government subsidies meant to push Toyota’s Mirai and other FCVs into the marketplace are likely too high for […]

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While Toyota and the administration of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are going all in on hydrogen, Volkswagen Group Japan President Shigeru Shoji proclaims FCVs will struggle to make headway elsewhere.

According to Bloomberg, Shoji says the government subsidies meant to push Toyota’s Mirai and other FCVs into the marketplace are likely too high for other governments to match. He adds that issues surrounding refueling infrastructure and the handling of hydrogen itself will add to the roadblocks awaiting the technology outside of Japan.

Those comments — echoing sentiments by Tesla CEO Elon Musk and other hydrogen skeptics — aren’t lost on either Toyota or the Abe administration. Company representative Dion Corbett says the subsidies are needed to help get hydrogen off the ground, citing the high cost of developing fuel-cell technology. That said, Dion believes demand will not only be the highest in Japan — where Abe envisions a “hydrogen society” of fuel-cells for homes and businesses as well as cars — but in Germany, California and the U.S. East Coast.

Though Volkswagen has its doubts, VW Japan representative Yasuo Maruta says the company is keeping its eye on Toyota’s efforts, planning to be no more than three years’ behind R&D work in relation to Toyota.

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Capsule Review: 2015 VW Saveiro CD Highline (Double Cab – Brazilian Market) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/capsule-review-2015-vw-saveiro-cd-highline-double-cab-brazilian-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/capsule-review-2015-vw-saveiro-cd-highline-double-cab-brazilian-market/#comments Sun, 31 Aug 2014 17:36:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=904225 The car-based small pickup market was launched in Brazil by Fiat during the 1980s. Taking a 147 as its base, the Italians cut out the back seats, added a bed, beefed up the suspension and called it good. The market deemed it so, and soon, there was a whole new segment gracing Brazil’s roads, with […]

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The car-based small pickup market was launched in Brazil by Fiat during the 1980s. Taking a 147 as its base, the Italians cut out the back seats, added a bed, beefed up the suspension and called it good. The market deemed it so, and soon, there was a whole new segment gracing Brazil’s roads, with Fiat’s Strada dominating the segment. Since that time, nearly every challenger has been vanquished by the Strada’s unquestionable longevity – except for Volkswagen’s Saveiro.

According to VW do Brasil, the Saveiro is now the market leader in single and extended cab configurations. It has sold roughly 40,000 units up until the middle of the year while Fiat sold roughly twice that. Volkswagen says half of Strada sales were of the double cab line. So finally VW reacted and launched its own double cab (the Strada’s arrived in 2009).  Its take on this style of small pick up is different from Fiat’s. As of 10 months ago, the Strada now comes with three doors, which of course (in theory) helps entry. The Volkswagen offers just two. Getting in the car and reclining the seat, I wiggle my 6 foot, 220 lb  frame into the back seat.

Nice surprise. While the Strada seats just four, the Saveiro does it for five. There are three headrests and three point seat belts only for those who sit off to the sides. The middle passenger, besides fighting for space, has to make do with a lap belt. Space is larger than in the Strada, though I wouldn’t want to be there with two friends for more than short jaunts. The rear side windows open by popping out, while the back window is fixed. There are two cupholders and even an auxiliary jack and a compartment under the seats. Some thought was indeed put into it.

Getting into the front and sitting in the driver’s seat, the whole ambience is very typically Volkswagen. That means a sober, almost boring layout, hard but well assembled plastics, monotone decorations and lots of unmarked plastic covers where commands for optional equipment would be. All in all it is an ambience I don’t especially admire or find pleasure in being, while I can appreciate why others do. The seat is placed a little low, and the dashboard quite high leading to that sunken feeling that many nowadays equate with safety. What’s safer than driving a tank, right? As such, it’s good the Saveiro CD comes with parking sensors. That way you won’t smash the bed into anything.

Speaking of the bed, it has been reduced to 1.1 m in length and capacity is now 580L. The spare has been placed under the bed. Just to compare, the Strada has a volume 100L greater and can carry 50 more kilos (650 to the Saveiro’s 600). Though short, it is longer than the Strada’s and offers 10 tie-down points, a number its rival can’t touch.

The Saveiro Double Cab offers two engines. Both are 1.6L. One however has 8v while the other 16. The 16v is new and corrals 110 or 120 ponies (depending of fuel chosen, the first figure for Brazilian gasoline, the second for Brazilian ethanol) while the simpler mill makes do with 101 or 104 horsepower. While this output is relatively low, the multi-valve engine pulls well and vibrates less than the old one. Pulling power is steady and its capacity to rev higher makes it more comfortable to drive at high speeds on the highway. Top speed is 179 km/h, almost 10 more than the 8 valve unit. It has been on the market for a while now, and so far has not shown the same propensity of the old unit of going kaput at very low mileage. Keeping fingers crossed, one can hope Volkswagen do Brasil has finally figured out what kind of oil is needed to lubricate its 1.6 L motors.

Finally, and exclusively for its segment, the new engine also makes do without an auxiliary start up tank. In low temperatures, cars running on ethanol can have trouble firing. To avoid this, most cars here come with an extra tank you must fill with gasoline to aid firing. The new engine dispenses with this, aiding comfort and safety as there is no need for the extra tank, usually placed in the engine bay.

The Saveiro Highline comes with the 1.6 16v. I chose to drive it as I’m well acquainted with the 8v unit. It really helps the experience and makes the car that more enjoyable. Faster than ever, the little pickup has always been a handful to drive at high speeds with an empty bed. So much so that cars like these are known as caminito al cielo (road to heaven) in some South American markets. This time around VW has endowed the picape with stability control but only on the top-level Cross trim. Lower trim level buyers will have to be wary and drive with special care trying to make it around bends. While very sure-footed and planted in a straight line, the driver must not forget he is in a pickup and not a car. The bed will try to find the front of the car if the driver abuses it.

All double cab Saveiros come with disc brakes all around. Stopping power is of course enhanced, and emergency braking is done without drama. It helps that the Saveiro offers EBD throughout the Double Cab line. It’s very interesting how Brazilian cars are getting more equipped. Besides the mandatory airbags and ABS, the pickup comes with a hill holder function and special programming that allows VW to claim an off road traction launcher (depending on trim level). The Germans also claim their ABS and EBD have special programming offering better braking in muddy conditions. All of this was not present in the car I drove. For now, these are reserved for the pseudo-adventure Cross trim line.

The steering is precise as in most VW cars. In the city it’s not the lightest out there, but on the highway it beefs up nicely. Being a hydraulic unit, it offers more feedback than electric setups. The car comes with a manual 5-speed gearbox that remains among the best in Brazil. Its short and precise throws are better than the competitions and it can shift fast and true. Better yet, this time around the thumping noises of its engagement have been largely avoided.

I enjoyed this little truck. Pressure is now on Fiat to improve its Strada. Volkwagen pricing is in line with Fiat’s, but always offers just a bit more content. The drive is certainly modern and the use of an interdependent axle with longitudinal arms and springs in the back make it a less jumpy vehicle than the Strada. While the engine in the VW is smaller than the Strada’s 1.8, 16v, 132hp unit, it makes the car almost as fast and more economic, plus smoother than Fiat’s. Pulling power is aided by the hill holder function while the Strada has more torque. The Saveiro is now on par with the Strada and it will be interesting to be seen whether it will fulfill Volkswagen do Brasil’s prediction of taking over first place from the Strada. Though that will be a tough, uphill battle, the Saveiro now has what it takes.

 

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New Union Goes Up Against UAW For Chattanooga VW Plant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/new-union-goes-uaw-chattanooga-vw-plant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/new-union-goes-uaw-chattanooga-vw-plant/#comments Thu, 28 Aug 2014 13:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=902153 In response to the United Auto Workers establishing a union local in Chattanooga, Tenn., anti-UAW Volkswagen employees have begun the process of forming their own union. Reuters reports Mike Burton, who helped in the effort to defeat the UAW’s attempt to unionize the VW plant in Chattanooga earlier this year, is leading the charge for […]

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In response to the United Auto Workers establishing a union local in Chattanooga, Tenn., anti-UAW Volkswagen employees have begun the process of forming their own union.

Reuters reports Mike Burton, who helped in the effort to defeat the UAW’s attempt to unionize the VW plant in Chattanooga earlier this year, is leading the charge for what he says will be the first local of the American Council of Employees. He claims that since the UAW lost in February, VW has strengthened its ties to the union, and wants ACE to become the alternative to Local 42, the local established by ACE’s opponents last month.

Meanwhile, UAW secretary-treasurer Gary Casteel believes Burton’s counterattack doesn’t have much of a chance because of the consensus between his union and the automaker, proclaiming Local 42 has “substantially more than 700 members” from the 1,500 hourly employees who work the floor in Chattanooga. He added that it would be up to VW to recognize ACE.

Though VW has said nothing regarding ACE thus far, it has repeatedly supported the establishment of a works council at its sole U.S. factory.

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Wiedeking Ordered To Stand Trial Over Market Manipulation Charges http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/wiedeking-ordered-stand-trial-market-manipulation-charges/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/wiedeking-ordered-stand-trial-market-manipulation-charges/#comments Wed, 27 Aug 2014 10:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=901441 Former Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking may be facing jail time in the future if convicted on charges of market manipulation recently revived by a German court. Bloomberg reports the Stuttgart Higher Regional Court ordered both Wiedeking and former Porsche CFO Holger Haerter to stand trial in criminal court over the charges, linked to the failed […]

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Former Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking may be facing jail time in the future if convicted on charges of market manipulation recently revived by a German court.

Bloomberg reports the Stuttgart Higher Regional Court ordered both Wiedeking and former Porsche CFO Holger Haerter to stand trial in criminal court over the charges, linked to the failed takeover of Volkswagen AG in October of 2008. The court proclaimed it found “numerous indications” of a possible hidden agenda to increase Porsche’s stake in Volkswagen from 74.1 percent to 75 percent “as they could suggest the opposite evaluation by the lower court.”

Both Porsche and attorneys for the two defendants believe the charges to be without merit, especially as they were overturned in a lower court back in April due to lack of sufficient evidence. The regional court, however, states that as far back as 2006, Wiedeking had plans to take over VW in secret.

In addition to the criminal case, a few civil suits are waiting in the wings in Braunschweig, Stuttgart and Hanover. The plaintiffs — investors who believed Porsche had planned to assimilate VW months before the October 2008 takeover attempt — are seeking over €5 billion ($6.6 billion USD) in damages.

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Chinese Government Investigating Quality Issues Among Volkswagen Sagitars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/chinese-government-investigating-quality-issues-among-volkswagen-sagitars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/chinese-government-investigating-quality-issues-among-volkswagen-sagitars/#comments Fri, 15 Aug 2014 12:00:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=893458 Amid complaints of broken rear shafts from Sagitar owners, China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine has contacted Volkswagen to fix the problem. Bloomberg reports 435 complaints were collected into the nation’s National Defective Motor Vehicle Recall Information Management Platform’s Defect Information Collection System, half of which were filed between July 30 and […]

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Amid complaints of broken rear shafts from Sagitar owners, China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine has contacted Volkswagen to fix the problem.

Bloomberg reports 435 complaints were collected into the nation’s National Defective Motor Vehicle Recall Information Management Platform’s Defect Information Collection System, half of which were filed between July 30 and August 12 alone.

FAW-VW responded late last month by claiming the problems were isolated incidents (via expert analysis) and not anything on their end. The joint venture also vowed to sue anyone spreading “untrue” information about their products.

The investigation is taking place at the same time an antitrust probe by the government over price-cutting by seven transplants, including Volkswagen AG’s Audi.

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VW Works Council Forces Out Consultants Amid Headcount Reduction Fears http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/vw-works-council-forces-consultants-amid-headcount-reduction-fears/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/vw-works-council-forces-consultants-amid-headcount-reduction-fears/#comments Tue, 12 Aug 2014 13:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=889337 Volkswagen AG execs will have to go back to the drawing board to determine where to cut costs after its works council demanded outside consultants be shown the door. Reuters reports last month, CEO Martin Winterkorn informed his employees that he was seeking €5 billion ($6.7 billion USD) in efficiency gains by 2017 so as […]

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Volkswagen AG execs will have to go back to the drawing board to determine where to cut costs after its works council demanded outside consultants be shown the door.

Reuters reports last month, CEO Martin Winterkorn informed his employees that he was seeking €5 billion ($6.7 billion USD) in efficiency gains by 2017 so as to close the profit gap between his company and its rival automakers. In turn, VW brought aboard consultant group McKinsey to help determine where to find the needed gains. But the pricey consultants were a point of contention with VW’s labor representatives.

The concerns over McKinsey’s presence focused upon fears of potential layoffs at factories in Kassal and Wolfsburg, Germany, where a total of over 65,000 assemble components, transmissions and vehicles. Labor leaders suggested the company focus on cutting both R&D spending and its trimming its bloated model lineup rather than reduce headcount.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/capsule-review-2015-volkswagen-gti/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/capsule-review-2015-volkswagen-gti/#comments Mon, 11 Aug 2014 14:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=869586 There I was, all ready to do something that no automotive journalist ever does: purchase a brand new performance car. I was days away from going down to the local Ford dealer and signing on the dotted line for a brand new Ford Fiesta ST. I had it all picked out: an ST3 model, with the […]

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There I was, all ready to do something that no automotive journalist ever does: purchase a brand new performance car. I was days away from going down to the local Ford dealer and signing on the dotted line for a brand new Ford Fiesta ST. I had it all picked out: an ST3 model, with the Recaros, grey wheels and Performance Blue paint. And then I got a phone call from Volkswagen, offering me the chance to drive the brand-new, MK7 GTI.

For those of you still reading the buff books, the MK7 GTI has been out for the better part of a year – and every keen TTAC reader knows that this is the first GTI to be built off of VW’s MQB modular architecture. But what does it mean for the enthusiast who doesn’t live and breathe the ins-and-outs of modular architectures?

Well, quite a bit. The MK7 is longer, wider, more spacious inside, while packing more power and less weight. Length is up by 2.1 inches, while width is up by half an inch. Notably, the GTI loses 1.1 inches in overall height, while the front wheels have been moved forward by nearly two inches (thanks to the MQB chassis placement of the pedal box), which adds up to the much more pleasing “lower, longer, wider” look.

The overall effect is that of a substantial car. From the outside, the GTI still looks like it takes up the expected footprint of a C-segment car. Inside, the cabin looks nothing short of huge. The panoramic sunroof and generously bolstered seats give it an airy feel, while the uncomplicated center console feels like it belongs in something with four rings. The rear seats contain enough room for two full-size male adults, though three abreast might be a stretch. It’s better than a number of CUVs that I’ve recently come across, and would be more than adequate for the sort of “bro-trips” that many buyers of this car will undertake. Like most auto reviewers, I adore the tartan cloth and would skip the leather upholstery.

The added size appears to have no negative consequences for the GTI’s performance. Dynamically, the GTI has but one fault. The gas and brake pedals are spaced too far apart to properly execute a heel-toe downshift. Everything else you’ve read about the car is true: it is utterly brilliant, and possibly the best all-round performance car on the market.

The newest generation of Volkswagen two-point-oh-tee motor delivers peak twist at just 1,500 rpm, pulling all the way up to 4,500 rpm. That means all 258 lb-ft is easily accessible in the meat of the power band, right where you’d be most inclined to use it. Torque-steer manages to be mercifully contained, and describing the acceleration as “brisk” doesn’t quite do this car justice.

An optional Performance Pack adds another 10 horsepower, bigger brakes and a limited-slip differential. Does the GTI need it? I’m not sure. The example we tested did not have it, and I never wished for a second that it did. The brakes are strong and progressive, the handling beautifully composed with crisp, quick steering and the kind of sharp turn-in that you wouldn’t normally expect on a front-wheel drive car.

This performance is also fully accessible to the average driver on something as banal as a highway on-ramp, and you can tap into it while you’re averaging 26 mpg in spirited driving. Even with the low-profile tires and sharp handing, the ride is never punishing. If the light clutch and precise 6-speed manual gearbox are too arduous for your daily commute, there’s a dual-clutch gearbox available as well. What could possibly be wrong with a car that can truly lay claim to being the ultimate performance daily driver?

Well, as Jack said

 Imagine that the GTI was slow-roasted until all the joy dripped out of it. Then imagine that all the joy that dripped out was caught in a drip pan. Then imagine that the drip pan was emptied into the Fiesta ST.

When I was 17 years old, my father bought a MKV Jetta 2.0T, and I, entitled little brat that I was, scoffed at the notion that a powerful, front-wheel drive car could be any fun. After all, video games and endless forum flame wars had taught me, so it had to be true. As it turned out, I adored that car, and I adore the MKVII, which is faster, lighter sharper and more refined than the MKV, with its laggy motor and first-generation DSG, ever was. But even though I’m less entitled and (slightly) more mature, I still want the raucous, slightly unhinged brand of front-drive fun that the Fiesta ST offers, even at the expense of the GTI’s substantial rear seat and cargo area. For everyone else that’s gotten that puerile recklessness out of their system, the GTI is the one you want.

N.B. Our photography car has a DSG gearbox, but is otherwise identical to our tester. Thanks to AutoGuide.com for the photograpy.

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Reader Review: 2010 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/reader-review-2010-volkswagen-jetta-sportwagen/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/reader-review-2010-volkswagen-jetta-sportwagen/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 15:51:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=874393 Reader Phil Brown shares his experiences with his Jetta Wagon Volkswagen still has the temerity to sell a compact station wagon in an American market scarfing up CUVs, and bless them for it. I should have been in the heart of the CUV market when looking for a new vehicle in 2010, but I ended […]

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Reader Phil Brown shares his experiences with his Jetta Wagon

Volkswagen still has the temerity to sell a compact station wagon in an American market scarfing up CUVs, and bless them for it. I should have been in the heart of the CUV market when looking for a new vehicle in 2010, but I ended up in a MkVI Jetta Sportwagen. It isn’t brown and it doesn’t burn diesel, but after four years and 51K miles of ownership I can understand some of the fervor of wagon fans here on TTAC. There is just something so fundamentally sound and good about the way this car drives, the way it goes down the road, and the surprising utility it offers. With the recent ascension of the Volkswagen Golf to the MQB platform and the 1.8TSI engine on North American shores, I thought it would be an appropriate time to share my longer-term ownership experience of the outgoing platform.

The VW replaced a second-hand 1996 “champagne” beige Camry (how appropriate, for what better title could you give a 1996 Camry than the Champagne of Beiges?) which I had owned for 8 responsible years. Despite being the crème de la crème of 1990s sedans and exhibiting a build quality rarely seen in a Toyota showroom since, it was completely lifeless from behind the wheel and falling badly behind on safety features. Kids were coming. ABS, side airbags, and LATCH anchors were suddenly a priority, and I wanted at least a whiff of driver involvement. Time in a Focus ZX5 and the joker-faced Mazda 3 had opened my eyes to affordable driving enjoyment, and I wanted some of that in a package that could haul a couple of kids and their accompanying detritus.

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Turns out that was a lot to ask from a $21K budget when a hatchback/wagon body style was mandatory. Lightly used CUVs were ruled out after realizing they were as dull as the Camry despite acing the functional criteria. It’s hard to swallow 4 years of payments on a used vehicle when you don’t actually like it. Every other hatchback or wagon had a fatal flaw, whether too small in the cargo area (xB & Soul), too small in the backseat (Mazda3), or too cheap and nasty to warrant the asking price (Matrix). The Jetta Sportwagen was about the only offering left, and poking around one at an auto show left a really good impression. Subsequent test drives only improved on that.

I never thought I’d walk into a VW dealership after seeing the pages of Consumer Reports splattered like a crime scene with black dots from the infamous Mk IV days, but once those Mk Vs landed in 2005 the dots turned to white and red. So I put aside brand bias and worked with a very professional and low-pressure sales manager to order a base S model with the 5 cylinder engine and 5 speed manual from the factory. Five weeks later, the Mexican-assembled wagon arrived wrapped in bug-splattered plastic.

Most will openly wonder why on God’s Green Earth one would special order a gas Sportwagen instead of picking a TDI already on the lot. The answer is $4500, the price difference between the cheapest TDI with its obligatory bundled options and an already well-equipped base 2.5S. Being trendy and undersupplied, TDI Sportwagen inventories were low in my area that year and the dealers weren’t about to budge a nickel on them. I wasn’t seeing $4500 worth of value there, but time will tell if the higher depreciation and fuel costs wash out the initial price savings.

Regardless of engine choice, this car treats both the driver and passengers well. It provides some feedback and involvement without beating up or cramping passengers, and provides class-atypical levels comfort and refinement without completely anesthetizing the driving experience. The suspension and structure absorb broken pavement, potholes, and jarring ripples with poise and composure that no Civic or Elantra can manage, yet the handling is still responsive. The steering provides respectable feel and precision at speed, with no center dead zone and none of the tiring dartiness some quick ratio systems provide. The driving position is excellent and seat comfort is superb. It is hushed, stable and confident on the highway and just eats up miles for hours on end without fatiguing you. I’m six feet tall and can still find a good driving position with twin rear-facing toddler seats behind me, although anyone taller will have trouble. An SUV’s worth of cargo capacity resides behind the backseat so I can haul both kids and gear. Without the family aboard, I can turn off the traction control and dump-n-ride the clutch to shriek the tires across half an intersection if I’m feeling like an abusive imbecile. That is a smile you cannot get from a CR-V.

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The interior of this generation of Golf/Jetta received unanimous praise in the media, and it is well-deserved because the materials quality is closer to an entry-level luxury car than a $20K compact. Happy little details are hidden everywhere, from the glovebox lined in faux felt to the brilliant tilt-and-telescope center armrest to the standard heated seats to the real metal door pulls that release the latch with such a satisfying feel and sound. The speedometer is absolute genius, marked in 10 mph increments until 80 and in 20 mph increments beyond, so you can have your stupid obligatory 160 mph speedometer and not sacrifice legibility in the 0-80 mph range. The interior shows no wear on the touch points, so whatever shoddy craftsmanship plagued the MkIV interiors is not present here.

The interior and solid structure can perhaps be cheerfully compared to Audi, but several things remind you this car was built to a low price. The HVAC fan roars like a tornado and the air conditioning is a bit tepid. There is no modern infotainment technology to speak of. No trip computer. No Bluetooth. No USB integration. You get AUX and a CD slot with a stereo head unit that is laughably basic even if the sound that it routes through the eight speakers isn’t bad. My biggest complaint involves the brakes, which are mushy and require a surprisingly good stomp to extract all of the mediocre performance despite being four-wheel disc. The unparalleled bitching about the 2011 Jetta’s rear drums was amusing considering it stops in a shorter distance than my car.

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The engine won’t fool an Audi owner either, but for $20K why should it? VW’s 2.5 liter 5 cylinder is controversial, I believe it deserves a final defense. The 5 cylinder was never going to engender anything but irritation from journalists narrowly focused on acceleration stats or how vigorously the needle swings to redline. Well, ignore their regurgitated groupthink because this is an affordable workhorse that is more relaxed and well-suited to everyday driving than most C-segment engines it competed with. The oft-quoted torque peak occurs above 4000 rpm, but 90% of that is available at 2000 rpm, so it pulls better at those engine speeds than a GLI with its sleeping turbo. Going for a hole in traffic doesn’t usually require a downshift. You can move out nicely in 3rd gear at 30mph and that gives you an advantage against a lot of other average cars that need to wake up and downshift before they can provide much thrust. In Everyday Car and Driver Land, this is more important than a 0-60 sprint.

If those sprints still interest you, the tires will chirp going into second but the engine doesn’t really rev eagerly and feels pretty much done by 5000 rpm. Expect an automatic Sonata to keep pace with you. Expect the GLI to flatten you. You’re just not going to win many stoplight races. Rest in peace anyway, noble 5-cylinder. You were a decent effort considering VW has approximately zero interest in normally aspirated engines.

I find the notorious fuel economy of this engine to be…adequate, but getting less so each year, as the industry extracts more power from the same amount of fuel. I get 28-34 mpg on the highway depending on whatever. It’s a 3200 pound car with 170hp so I wasn’t expecting 40 mpg, but cars of this weight and power should be getting 10-15% better. A section of the brain fixates on that, even if it doesn’t really dent the pocketbook.

I suppose we need to discuss reliability. No VW review is complete without stories of hellacious repair records, preferably of experiences 10, 20, or 30 years ago extrapolated far beyond the proper scope of inference to every VW model and powertrain produced today. Look, either you believe data collected by Consumer Reports and TrueDelta or you don’t. Those sources show the MkV Golf/Jetta far outperforming the MkIV and achieving parity or better with the rest of the industry, particularly for 5-cylinder cars. This is my personal experience: in 51K miles I’ve had one repair stop, a faulty ignition coil at 15K miles that didn’t leave me stranded or make me late to anything. The rear seat ski pass-through likes to jam as well and I have had that addressed 3 times during oil changes. Apparently it is a model-wide design flaw, but it’s not as if the window is dropping into the door. Otherwise, the car has been flawless. I don’t expect an easy 200K, but if I can run it for 10 years and 150K miles without headache you won’t ever see me criticizing this model’s reliability on the comment boards. Bulletproof reliability beyond 200K is something for the second owner to worry about, as the Camry taught me that 15 years of perfect operation is a critical asset only if you want to keep the car for 15 years.

I’ll probably pay for that reliability gap when I try to sell this thing in a world where used Civics fetch such high prices, and I’m fairly certain the manual transmission will be a resale hurdle as well. That’s OK. The modest gain in resale at the tail end of the depreciation curve is not worth driving a car I do not enjoy for a full decade. Volkswagen converted a skeptic here, and should this wagon not implode on me in the next 100K miles and render me an embittered hater of all budget German metal, I may just move into a GTI.

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Clean-Diesel Sales Up 25 Percent In The US For 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/clean-diesel-sales-up-25-percent-in-the-us-for-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/clean-diesel-sales-up-25-percent-in-the-us-for-2014/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 11:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=869994 Though hardly any of the offerings can be found in a brown wagon with a six-speed manual pushing power to the back, U.S. sales of clean-diesel vehicles have climbed up 25 percent this year. Autoblog Green reports clean-diesels are set to double their current 3 percent of total vehicles sold in the U.S. by 2018, […]

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Though hardly any of the offerings can be found in a brown wagon with a six-speed manual pushing power to the back, U.S. sales of clean-diesel vehicles have climbed up 25 percent this year.

Autoblog Green reports clean-diesels are set to double their current 3 percent of total vehicles sold in the U.S. by 2018, according to Diesel Technology Forum. The group also noted the 25 percent jump is besting overall sales thus far in 2014, having only seen a boost of 4.2 percent in comparison.

As for the cause of the leap into oil-burning, consumers seeking better fuel economy find a 30 percent gain when the engine quietly purrs, especially when 27 of the 46 available clean-diesel models for the U.S. market are cars and SUVs. Winners include Audi and Chevrolet, both moving 8,100 and 3,000 units through the first half of 2014. Meanwhile, Volkswagen, lost 8 percent in sales during the same period, though still lead the way with 42,000 vehicles leaving the lot.

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Review: 2015 Golf TSI Auto http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/review-2015-golf-tsi/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/review-2015-golf-tsi/#comments Sat, 05 Jul 2014 12:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=858777 Who buys one of these things instead of the brilliant GTI? Sure, in Europe the Golf is a default-mode transportation device the way the Corolla is in the United States — but that doesn’t change the fact that anybody who buys a German(-branded) hatchback on this side of the Atlantic is trying to make a […]

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Who buys one of these things instead of the brilliant GTI? Sure, in Europe the Golf is a default-mode transportation device the way the Corolla is in the United States — but that doesn’t change the fact that anybody who buys a German(-branded) hatchback on this side of the Atlantic is trying to make a statement, the same way that anybody who eats “Pocky” in the United States is trying to make a statement.

Perhaps the Mk7 Golf TSI, particularly in the metallic blue exterior/cream interior variant we drove in San Francisco, makes the right kind of statement to the right kind of people. The one that says, “I’m not a GTI racer wannabe, I just want to drive exactly what someone in our perfectly enlightened and cultured and correct mother continent of Europe would drive.” Driving a GTI is kind of like eating a salad with a lot of dressing — there’s a suspicion that you might not be into the spirit of the thing. Driving the TSI, on the other hand, is much like telling everybody that you don’t own a television.

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The real-word pricing on these 170hp/200lb-ft tq Golfs is between $19,800 and $28k. On all but the “S” trim, you can get the TDI for an extra grand or so. From a resale and longevity standpoint, it would be wise to do so. Everybody knows that diesel VWs have a very different retained-value profile from gas-powered ones, particularly as they approach their tenth birthday and beyond. As soon as I find my photos of the TDI I’ll do a review on that, but the gist of it will be this: there’s virtually no penalty for the diesel in daily use. In the meantime, let’s go driving this newest 1.8t.

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The combination of light upholstery and the extremely convincing metal-look trim in the Golf is just so right for NorCal. It’s hip, fresh, airy, upscale-feeling, and not at all aggressive. The GTI isn’t classy like this; the GTI is try-hard with its piano-black sportlich dash and golf-ball shifter and extra GTI logos and whatnot. Imagine you were taking a user-interface designer for Facebook on a first date: do you want her to see you in a light-blue Golf or a bright-red GTI? Exactly.

Into “D” and the TSI is immediately impressive with plenty of low-end shove that doesn’t completely strangle a nice rush to the redline. This is a sporting motor in execution if not intent and it has a lot of the revvy friendly character that made the old five-valve 1.8t such an unexpected joy in the MkIV Golf GLS four-door. (Removing completely incorrect paragraph about the transmission, brought on by mis-reading my notes — JB)

This being the widest, most spacious, and most rigid Golf in history, it’s no surprise that the TSI is an exceptionally pleasant companion in traffic and on side roads. The space (up front, anyway) and the refinement are easily on par with the Camcord class above it. That’s reasonable, because when you equip it like a Camry SE it kind of costs Camry SE money. So what do you get in exchange for going down a segment at the same price?

Well, you get the exceptionally tasteful interior, although the temperature knobs wobble a bit too much for my taste and some of the plastics around the seat are very obviously hecho in Mexico. You get the “V-Tex” leatherette which is very good and likely to wear pretty well. (Side note: Calling it “V-Tex” is sort of like of me calling my occasional band “Uranium Zeppelin”. If you want to riff on the legends, you’d better come correct. I’m not sure VW has earned the name.) You get a turbo four and twin-clutch transmission that are more responsive than the big-inch one-bar four-bangers in the Camry and friends and considerably more enjoyable to push hard.

You also get a remarkably composed chassis. A run up a few canyon roads revealed that even without the stiff springs and thick swaybars of the GTI, this is an inherently enthusiastic automobile. It likes to turn, it can be steered with the throttle in the midcorner, it reliably swallows bumps on unfamiliar roads. The brakes seemed solid enough but at the top of one hill they exhaled plumes of smoke through the wheels so perhaps that was pushing them too hard. In deference to my predecessor in this E-I-C position, I should also say something about how the MQB chassis didn’t squeak or rustle (true) and how it’s going to take over the world in the next three minutes (not sure about that one). There is a difference between the old Golfs and the new ones; they felt solid but this one is halfway to a Phaeton in the way it refuses to flex under load. And remember: this is a hatchback. Having that big hole in back doesn’t help matters when it comes to stiffness.

Of course, the latest generation of Camcords is also pretty stiff and light and in the case of the Trope Namers they’re both pretty enthusiastic steers with the proper options selected. So not only is it difficult to make a case for the VW over our market defaults based on the numbers, it’s kind of tough to make it based on the intangibles of chassis stiffness or suspension tuning or back-road charisma. True, you need an “SE” or “Sport” version of a Camcord to keep up with this not-explicitly-sporting Golf, but you won’t have to look very hard to find them at your local dealer.

I wouldn’t buy this particular car. I’d buy a GTI, public image be damned. Or I’d buy the manual-transmission version of the TSI, which Volkswagen continues to offer. Or I’d buy a Camry SE, knowing that it’s just as quick and handles just as well and has more room and will last approximately forever and will be worth real money to any CarMax I can roll it down a hill to in ten years.

But I’m not the market for this car. I’m too old, too track-focused, too unhip, too flyover, too everything. The people who are buying these cars don’t care to acknowledge the existence of the Camry SE. They’ll buy this VW because it’s like a tie from Hickoree’s or having Sun Kill Moon on vinyl or using the word “Murica” ironically in conversation: it sends the right signals to the right people. In that respect, the sacrifices one makes to own a Golf over a Camry — in size, in likely durability, in having to endure the VW dealer body, in resale — are positive because they ensure that no stupid mother of two from Iowa is going to accidentally buy the same Golf TSI that you, the San Jose-based social media consultant, have just purchased.

Go ahead and buy one, then. It’s the right car for you. And more than ever, it’s also a pretty good car. Just know this: that distinct feeling of superiority you get when you see some prole in a Fusion… well, you should keep shaded, because it might not stand the light of day.

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(Volkswagen provided travel and accommodations for this test.)

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VW Will Begin Production Of Beetle Dune In 2016 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/vw-will-begin-production-of-beetle-dune-in-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/vw-will-begin-production-of-beetle-dune-in-2016/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 10:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=857937 Remember the Beetle Dune Concept we showed you a while ago? It’ll be in showrooms sometime in 2016. Car reports Volkswagen announced production of the concept through a promotional video instead of the usual press release. Pricing for the new Beetle — which will come in coupe and convertible forms — will be €2,800 ($3,800 […]

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Remember the Beetle Dune Concept we showed you a while ago? It’ll be in showrooms sometime in 2016.

Car reports Volkswagen announced production of the concept through a promotional video instead of the usual press release. Pricing for the new Beetle — which will come in coupe and convertible forms — will be €2,800 ($3,800 USD) over the standard Beetle.

Though no form of power has been specified — the concept had a 210-horsepower 2-liter turbo-four mated to a six-speed dual-clutch pushing those ponies to the front wheels — the production model will receive the concept’s 2-inch ground clearance and 1.1-inch wider track.

As for when the Dune will be seeking out its Kwisatz Haderach in the United States, Autoblog says VW of America has no official plans ready for announcement as of this writing, according to representative Mark Gillies.

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Reader Review: Skoda Octavia vRS http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/reader-review-skoda-octavia-vrs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/reader-review-skoda-octavia-vrs/#comments Wed, 18 Jun 2014 13:31:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=845961 All the way from Santiago, Chile, reader Carlos Villalobos invited us to drive his Skoda Octavia vRS. Sadly, none of us could make the 12+ hour flight to the other end of the globe, so Carlos sent us his review instead. Lusting after forbidden fruit isn’t a concept known only to North Americans, salivating over […]

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All the way from Santiago, Chile, reader Carlos Villalobos invited us to drive his Skoda Octavia vRS. Sadly, none of us could make the 12+ hour flight to the other end of the globe, so Carlos sent us his review instead.

Lusting after forbidden fruit isn’t a concept known only to North Americans, salivating over diesel hatchbacks and hot VAG variants. Here in South America, we also are afflicted with the same problem every other human being has: wanting what they can’t have.

Except in my case, I am lusting after a Jetta GLI.

You might think I’m crazy – apparently, the GLI is not considered a “real” Volkswagen by many American enthusiasts, since it’s based on the unloved MKVI Jetta. But here in Chile, we don’t have the GLI. We do have the GTI, but it’s extremely expensive, and frankly, I prefer the practicality of a sedan to a hatchback, even though that statement is considered heresy by the B&B.

So when I heard that Skoda was bringing the vRS line to Chile, I started to think about how I can afford it without starving my wife and three children . I like to have cars for 5 years or 100,000 km. When my 2009 Jetta hit that milestone, I ended up replacing i with a 2011 Sonata. It was a great deal, but also impossibly boring. I even crashed it, which I attribute to sheer boredom. The next day, I saw a nearly new Octavia vRS with 7,000 km. Some groveling with the wife ensued, but I had my dream car.

I really only have two complaints. First the driver’s seat doesn’t go quite low enough. Even a couple of centimeters would be fine. The second annoyance is that in the position I use the steering wheel, it obstructs the lower part of the IP display, so I can’t see the fuel gauge except when it’s marked as full.

The rest of the car is amazing. It literally has everything the VAG parts bin has to offer, except for radar cruise control and massage seats. But it does have Xenon headlights that can angle the beam into a corner, LED DRLs, heated mirrors, heated front and rear seats (the fronts are Recaros), dual zone climate control and a bloody massive trunk with folding rear seats.

The fit and finish is excellent, the hard plastics are top notch, the fake carbon inserts look pretty nice and the handles to open the doors look like aluminum and feel solid. The floor mats are thick and the seats are very supportive, with lots of adjustments. The sound system is great for my untrained ears. In general the look and feel is business like.

But I can’t say it’s pretty. I preferred the long tail proportions I of the Mk5 Jetta, but I do love the stance it has, hunkered down in a way that reminds me of Skoda’s old WRC cars. The 17 inch wheels look right without disrupting the ride quality.

When I bought it, I used to work and they paid for the fuel, so I didn’t mind too much the fuel consumption and traveled along the country in 500 km trips eating 335s and A4s. Now it is a weekend car because I don’t need to drive to work, so I enjoy it in short trips.

It accelerates very well in straight line and once the turbo comes on at 2,000 RPM, the acceleration is very strong. The brakes are not progressive and the faster you go the better they work. I had to learn to modulate them, but the ABS just activates when it is needed. In medium to fast corners it feels very planted and neutral, without too much understeer. It is different in slow corners, where if you turn and accelerate at the same time, the boost comes in and the tires can’t manage the power and the push can be surprising. After that you learn to go in a higher gear and use the torque to pull you out of the corner. The car should use the brakes to act as a LSD under 50 km/h but it does not.

People who only want the brand recognition go for the BMW 114 or Audi A3/A4 with a 125 hp engine for the same price, but for me the intelligent choice it is this car, which has a lot more of equipment, more power and is more exotic, for the same money.  In the real world, nothing this side of an M3 can touch you, at the traffic lights, highways or B road. If you are smart the with throttle, it’s actually fairly economical too

Now, if only Skoda would bring the diesel vRS …

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UAW Will Spend Less On Transplant Organization Campaigns http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/uaw-will-spend-less-on-transplant-organization-campaigns/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/uaw-will-spend-less-on-transplant-organization-campaigns/#comments Mon, 09 Jun 2014 13:00:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=840466 Though the United Auto Worker’s fight for organization of the transplants in the Southeastern United States rages on, the union will not be taking as much from its war chest to fund the fight than in previous years. The Detroit News reports UAW Secretary-Treasurer Gary Casteel informed reporters at the end of the 36th UAW […]

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UAW + UniteHere Protest June 2014

Though the United Auto Worker’s fight for organization of the transplants in the Southeastern United States rages on, the union will not be taking as much from its war chest to fund the fight than in previous years.

The Detroit News reports UAW Secretary-Treasurer Gary Casteel informed reporters at the end of the 36th UAW Constitutional Convention that there would be news this week of the union’s plan to organize the Mercedes-Benz plant in Vance, Ala. despite the lack of support for the UAW. He also says he will remain in Tennessee to help with the renewed fight for the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, where the union lost in a contentious election back in February amid allegations of anti-union interference.

As for what those plans entail, or how much less the union was willing to spend on them, Casteel did not offer specifics; the UAW spent $15 million under the term of former union president Bob King, whose term ended with the election of new president and former secretary-treasurer Dennis Williams. He also said his union would not be affected by Canadian labor union Unifor’s efforts to organize Toyota’s plants in Ontario, nor did he believe if Chattanooga had been won, all of the remaining transplants would soon follow:

I don’t really believe in the domino effect. If Volkswagen had been successful, I didn’t see this domino effect with the other transnationals and vice-versa.

The post UAW Will Spend Less On Transplant Organization Campaigns appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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