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. Fri, 30 Jan 2015 16:13:50 +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/ Volkswagen Moving Ahead With New Phaeton Despite Itself http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/volkswagen-moving-ahead-new-phaeton-despite/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/volkswagen-moving-ahead-new-phaeton-despite/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 12:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989922 Despite cost-cutting measures meant to save the automaker €5 billion annually by 2017, Volkswagen is moving ahead with a new Phaeton by 2018 at the latest. Reuters reports the revamp of the €76,000 ($86,000 USD) executive car would cost up to €650 million ($733 million) according to Evercore ISI analyst Arndt Ellinghorst, flying in the […]

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Despite cost-cutting measures meant to save the automaker €5 billion annually by 2017, Volkswagen is moving ahead with a new Phaeton by 2018 at the latest.

Reuters reports the revamp of the €76,000 ($86,000 USD) executive car would cost up to €650 million ($733 million) according to Evercore ISI analyst Arndt Ellinghorst, flying in the face of a pledge by VW to cut production costs and non-profitable models in order to save €5 billion ($5.6 billion) annually by 2017. He adds that the Phaeton — the €1 billion ($1.13 billion) pet project of Chairman Ferdinand Piech that has lost €28,000 ($32,000) per unit sold between 2002 and 2012 alone — is “the most irrational project” as far as budgeting goes, yet lives on because Piech and CEO Martin Winterkorn “cannot let go of their fondness for luxury products.”

Additionally, the Phaeton would not only have a hard time doing battle against the likes of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7 Series as far as sales go (85,000 units annually for the S and 64,000 for the 7 compared to an estimated 11,900 for the new model between 2017 and 2020), but it would also struggle against its own stablemate, the Audi A8. U.S. sales are another likely challenge, as well, considering the automaker’s own struggles in understanding the U.S. market.

Nonetheless, VW is preparing the second-gen Phaeton for its showroom debut between 2017 and 2018, with a PHEV version coming down the pipe, as well.

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BMW, Volkswagen Team With ChargePoint For Bi-Coastal Network http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/bmw-volkswagen-team-chargepoint-bi-coastal-network/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/bmw-volkswagen-team-chargepoint-bi-coastal-network/#comments Fri, 23 Jan 2015 13:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=987810 More charging stations are on the way for EV owners, thanks to a new partnership between BMW, Volkswagen and ChargePoint. The first phase of the partnership will be 100 DC fast chargers running north to south between Portland and San Diego on the West Coast, Boston and the District of Columbia on the East Coast. […]

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BMW i3 and Volkswagen e-Golf DC Charging

More charging stations are on the way for EV owners, thanks to a new partnership between BMW, Volkswagen and ChargePoint.

The first phase of the partnership will be 100 DC fast chargers running north to south between Portland and San Diego on the West Coast, Boston and the District of Columbia on the East Coast. Each station will have up to two 50 kW DC Fast or 24 kW DC Combo Fast chargers for most EVs like the BMW i3 and Volkswagen e-Golf, as well as Level 2 chargers for all EVs. Access to each location is granted by a ChargePoint or ChargeNow membership card.

The new stations will be in metro and intercity locations — such as restaurants, malls and rest stops — spaced up to 50 miles apart for long-distance travel, joining a network of over 20,000 ChargePoint stations throughout the United States. The first location is online now in San Diego County, Calif., with the other 99 expected by the end of 2015.

Express Charging.Infographic.300dpi

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Toyota No. 1 Global Automaker In 2014, Volkswagen Close Behind http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-no-1-global-automaker-2014-volkswagen-close-behind/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-no-1-global-automaker-2014-volkswagen-close-behind/#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 14:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=987066 Once again, Toyota is the No. 1 largest automaker in the world, but Volkswagen is waiting close behind for the chance to take the crown. Automotive News reports Toyota sold 10.23 million units in 2014 with help from its Daihatsu and Hino partners, the first time the automaker sold over 10 million units in a […]

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Once again, Toyota is the No. 1 largest automaker in the world, but Volkswagen is waiting close behind for the chance to take the crown.

Automotive News reports Toyota sold 10.23 million units in 2014 with help from its Daihatsu and Hino partners, the first time the automaker sold over 10 million units in a single year. Volkswagen took second on the podium with 10.14 million, and General Motors took third with 9.92 million.

2014 marks the second consecutive year Toyota has held the top spot, having regained it from GM in 2012 after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami greatly hindered production for the majority of that year. The automaker originally took the top spot from GM in 2008, the latter having dominated the podium for 80 years prior; Toyota also held the title in 2009 and 2010.

As for 2015, Toyota is forecasting deliveries of 10.15 million due to decreased demand at home and in emerging markets, as well as from falling oil prices and Japan’s increased national consumption tax. Volkswagen, meanwhile, is ahead of schedule as far as taking the crown goes, CEO Martin Winterkorn stating such a thing would occur by 2018 at the earliest before 2014’s results showed otherwise.

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Volkswagen Eyeing Golf R400, Van For US Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/volkswagen-eyeing-golf-r400-van-us-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/volkswagen-eyeing-golf-r400-van-us-market/#comments Wed, 21 Jan 2015 12:00:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=986674 Aside from its crossover-SUV expansion, Volkswagen has some plans for its overall United States lineup, including the possibility of seeing the Golf R400 and a van in the showroom. Automotive News reports the automaker is close to making a decision on producing the 395-horsepower concept, which made its debut at the 2014 Beijing Auto Show […]

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Aside from its crossover-SUV expansion, Volkswagen has some plans for its overall United States lineup, including the possibility of seeing the Golf R400 and a van in the showroom.

Automotive News reports the automaker is close to making a decision on producing the 395-horsepower concept, which made its debut at the 2014 Beijing Auto Show last April. The move to press forward, however, depends on “good conditions,” per development boss Hans-Jakob Neusser.

As for the van, Volkswagen of America CEO Michael Horn says either the Caddy or next-gen Crafter are likely candidates to take on the likes of the Ford Transit and Ram ProMaster City.

Meanwhile, a few models will be cast into the crusher of history to further VW’s crossover/SUV-heavy strategy, with the Eos — which made up 1 percent of the automaker’s 2014 U.S. sales with 3,411 sold — high on the list.

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Volkswagen: Golf-Based CUV May Slot Under Next-Gen Tiguan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/volkswagen-golf-based-cuv-may-slot-next-gen-tiguan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/volkswagen-golf-based-cuv-may-slot-next-gen-tiguan/#comments Fri, 16 Jan 2015 15:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=984321 With the Volkswagen Tiguan going bigger for the United States market in 2017, senior execs believe a smaller entry-level crossover could soon take its place. Ward’s Auto reports the new crossover would be Golf-based, and would become the fourth crossover in VW’s U.S. lineup alongside the aforementioned Tiguan, the upcoming midsize CrossBlue, and the larger […]

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With the Volkswagen Tiguan going bigger for the United States market in 2017, senior execs believe a smaller entry-level crossover could soon take its place.

Ward’s Auto reports the new crossover would be Golf-based, and would become the fourth crossover in VW’s U.S. lineup alongside the aforementioned Tiguan, the upcoming midsize CrossBlue, and the larger Touareg. The smaller crossover could take its cue from the T-ROC two-door crossover that bowed in Geneva last year, and may likely be built at the automaker’s facility in Puebla, Mexico, where the Golf, Jetta and Beetle are assembled.

Speaking of the CrossBlue, that seven-seater will likely add more models to the lineup, such as one similar to the Cross Coupe GTE PHEV from this year’s Detroit Auto Show. Both of those models would be produced in Chattanooga, Tenn.

As for the next-gen Tiguan, production is expected to begin in North America in 2017, possibly joining the Golf-based crossover in Puebla, as well. The Tiguan will also grow to over 185 inches in overall length, gain a third-row seat, and be able to hold seven passengers, all to better market the crossover to consumers in the U.S.

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NAIAS 2015: Volkswagen Previews Midsize SUV With Cross Coupe GTE http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-volkswagen-previews-midsize-suv-cross-coupe-gte/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-volkswagen-previews-midsize-suv-cross-coupe-gte/#comments Sun, 11 Jan 2015 23:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=975897 Taking a step closer toward a production midsize SUV for its Chattanooga, Tenn. plant, Volkswagen is unveiling its Cross Coupe GTE at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. The two-row, five-passenger hybrid crossover concept takes its styling from both the CrossBlue Concept from 2013’s Detroit Auto Show, and the CrossBlue Coupe from the Shanghai Auto Show […]

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Taking a step closer toward a production midsize SUV for its Chattanooga, Tenn. plant, Volkswagen is unveiling its Cross Coupe GTE at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show.

The two-row, five-passenger hybrid crossover concept takes its styling from both the CrossBlue Concept from 2013’s Detroit Auto Show, and the CrossBlue Coupe from the Shanghai Auto Show that same year. The design language will, in turn, be carried over unto the seven-passenger SUV set to leave Tennessee beginning at the end of 2016.

Powering the MQB-platform crossover is 3.6-liter VR6 FSI and two electric motors. The direct-injection V6 provides 276 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque to all four corners, augmented by the 54 horsepower/162 lb-ft electric motor up front, and the 114 horsepower/199 lb-ft unit in the back. Both electrics are linked to a 14.1 kWh compact lithium-ion pack in the center tunnel. The total results are 355 horsepower, 280 lb-ft of torque, 70 MPGe, 130 mph top speed, and nil to 60 in six seconds; a six-speed DSG handles everything.

The Cross Coupe GTE can be driven electric-only for up to 20 miles, default to Hybrid mode on start-up, use all of its power in GTE mode, and in Off-Road mode, the front motor becomes a gasoline-driven generator for the rear motor, providing AWD even when the hybrid’s battery is low.

Inside, the driver and front passenger have access to a 10.1-inch touchscreen display that can also be operated with gesture controls. Meanwhile, the driver’s 12.3-inch, 1,440 x 540 px instrumentation display provides navigation and driver assistance, and changes graphics depending on the driving mode chosen. Other features include Wi-Fi, attachments for tablets in the rear-seat headrests, leather, and a 60/40-split rear bench for increased cargo space.

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Connected-Vehicle Tech Takes Center Stage At 2015 CES http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/connected-vehicle-tech-takes-center-stage-2015-ces/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/connected-vehicle-tech-takes-center-stage-2015-ces/#comments Tue, 06 Jan 2015 15:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=972098 You’ve seen the 2016 Chevrolet Volt at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show; now see what else automotive-related is debuting at the annual tech show in Las Vegas. Whether you have an iPhone 6 Plus or a Nexus 6, Volkswagen has you covered for connectivity. According to AutoGuide, the automaker unveiled its new App-Connect system at […]

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MirrorLink VW CES

You’ve seen the 2016 Chevrolet Volt at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show; now see what else automotive-related is debuting at the annual tech show in Las Vegas.

Whether you have an iPhone 6 Plus or a Nexus 6, Volkswagen has you covered for connectivity. According to AutoGuide, the automaker unveiled its new App-Connect system at CES 2015 with a demo in its e-Golf. The system also works with MirrorLink, found on smartphones like the HTC One, Samsung Galaxy Note, and Sony Xperia Z. Other demos involving the EV itself included its Intelligent Charge wireless charging system, and the Perfect Parking autonomous parking feature.

Sticking with VW, future BlackBerry spinoff QNX announced it would partner up with the brand in providing its technology for new 2015 models, including the Touareg, Passat and Golf. The system supports 3D Google Earth and Google Street View, and offers real-time traffic information, reverse camera display, and four-zone climate controls among its array of features. QNX is also in use by parent company Volkswagen AG’s Audi and Porsche brands.

QNX also unveiled its latest concept car at CES 2015. Based upon the Maserati Quattroporte GTS, the Snapdragon 602A-powered QNX Quattroporte Technology Concept Car introduces the company’s take on autonomous driving. The concept uses ultrasonic radar, LIDAR and cameras to navigate and anticipate obstacles, as well as provide warning to those inside via its high-res touchscreen display from the CLA 45 AMG QNX Concept. QNX also brought an updated version of its Jeep Wrangler Technology Concept Car to demo the company’s technologies via a virtualized driving environment.

Those of you dealing with “the second coming of the polar vortex” might be happy to know that one day, you’ll be able to start your car via smartphone. Valeo’s InBlue technology uses Bluetooth to not only accomplish said task, but to also unlock doors, allow for secure vehicle sharing, and access vitals like fuel level and where your car is among the many silver-backed crossovers in the mall parking lot. InBlue is also compatible with smartwatches, and could hit the market as early as 2016.

Finally, 100 select BMW i3 owners in northern California will take part in a pilot program by Pacific Gas & Electric Company and BMW to study electric-vehicle charging time management, with the aim of improving the grid and reducing total cost of ownership of EVs. The target is to give PG&E 100 kilowatts of capacity at any time, even while groups of EVs recharge their batteries; BMW will determine when an i3 is charged, though owners can override via the i3’s smartphone app upon notification. Each participant will be paid a $1,000 incentive for their time.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/capsule-review-2015-volkswagen-golf-gti/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/capsule-review-2015-volkswagen-golf-gti/#comments Thu, 01 Jan 2015 12:45:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=970185 This is all very normal. I exited my driveway, turned left at the end of our cul-de-sac, then right onto our village’s main two-lane, low-speed thoroughfare, shifted into third and fourth, turned up the satellite radio’s volume, switched the driver’s heated seat on full blast, and finally came to a stop a few kilometres later […]

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2015 volkswagen golf gti redThis is all very normal. I exited my driveway, turned left at the end of our cul-de-sac, then right onto our village’s main two-lane, low-speed thoroughfare, shifted into third and fourth, turned up the satellite radio’s volume, switched the driver’s heated seat on full blast, and finally came to a stop a few kilometres later at a red light.

I’m waiting for the light to turn green, thinking that I must remember my excuse (crackers and hummus?) for leaving the house at 9pm at the end of a busy day just so I could drive this bright red, 4-door, 6-speed manual, 210-horsepower, 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI. But it’s an awfully normal car. It’s not barking or bellowing or champing at the bit. Any gear will do. It’s not announcing the roughness of our coastal roads. I can see out of it. It’s completely tractable. It’s just a Golf.

Only a few weeks prior, the 2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8TSI left me impressed, led me to believe that it was a terrific foundation for a GTI, and generated many more smiles per mile than I anticipated. Now, in mid-December, a week-long Christmas present from Volkswagen Canada seemed very much to be that first car, but with plaid seats, an upgraded equipment list, an extra cog in the gearbox, bigger wheels, and slightly sportier exterior styling.

Yes, it’s all very normal, this seventh-generation GTI. When you want it to be.

And when you don’t, the 2015 GTI maintains its disdain for MazdaSpeed 3-like raw exuberance while expressing itself instead through polished, refined, measured, soul-stirring performance; conducting itself with the grace and poise one expects from a far pricier German performance car.

2015 volkswagen golf gti reviewPricier? In Canada, it’s not as though the 4-door GTI is among the most affordable hot hatches. In a sense, VW Canada charges CAD $4900 to double the number of entry points as the CAD $34,290 4-door GTI is only available in Autobahn trim. (The 2-door GTI Autobahn starts at CAD $33,390.) Fortunately, Volkswagen’s American clientele need only pay an extra $600 for the rear doors. In the U.S., the 6-speed dual-clutch automatic is an $1100 option. Our Canadian-spec 4-door Autobahn tester was optioned only with a CAD $695 technology package which included forward collision warning and sat-nav.

The cabin, replete with a properly large sunroof, dual-zone climate control, heated seats, 8-speaker Fender audio, and keyless access, creates an overall impression of solidity, high-grade material quality, and relative simplicity. I love the plaid seats; my Mazda 3-driving neighbour was disgusted by their retro vibe. The rearview camera is easily washed out and offers little assistance at night. The infotainment unit’s graphics and speed are comically outdated. A marginal increase in rear seat legroom would be welcome even at the expense of cargo capacity. And of course, seats folded, the GTI becomes a delivery van, with 53.7 cubic feet of cargo capacity. Volkswagen’s own Tiguan offers only 2.4 extra cubic feet of total cargo space.

2015 volkswagen golf gti redThe GTI’s knack for swallowing a new dishwasher during a Boxing Day sale or assisting with a cross-town move is appreciated all the more because it’s still a small car. Yes, Golfs have grown. A lot. But the new GTI is only 168 inches long. That’s 16 inches longer than a Mini Cooper S and 8 inches longer than a Ford Fiesta ST, but it’s 14 inches shorter than Volkswagen’s Jetta GLI and nearly two feet shorter than the Volkswagen Passat.

Consequently, the MK7 GTI feels delightfully small to toss down an empty rural road, but it has the decorum of a much larger car when traversing rough city streets and cruising down the highway on a long journey. Ride quality is firmer than what you’ll encounter in a conventional Golf, but only moderately so. Meanwhile, the degree of steering and handling sharpness acquired by the GTI in its transition out of the Golf’s cocoon is palpable the moment you apply a bit of pressure.

The regular Golf, remember, is a fun car to drive quickly. It’s like playing intramural basketball: watch me drop a couple three-pointers before clanging one off the front of the rim and I don’t care since we’re just messing around and we’re all enjoying ourselves at this pace aren’t we? The GTI locked in a college scholarship in its junior year of high school with a killer crossover, a deadly fadeaway jumper, a solid defensive game, plenty of offensive rebounds, and a few crowd-silencing dunks. All modestly celebrated, of course. It’s a GTI, after all. Mature, prudent, sophisticated.

2015 volkswagen golf gti interiorThis latest GTI masks its front-wheel-drive nature remarkably well by quelling understeer, remaining relatively neutral regardless of what kind of stupid mid-corner lift-off or downshift or sudden braking or surprised squirrel avoidance maneuver you throw at it. That’s in Normal mode.

Press a button beside the shifter to choose Sport settings and the car tenses up in all the right places. The electric-assist steering could still be a bit quicker to react, but that hardly noticeable deficiency may be due to the winter tires more than any of the GTI’s inherent trait.

That the new GTI could readily amaze with its on-road behaviour is a testament to both the quality of its Continental ContiWinterContacts and the car’s own beautifully modulated suspension setup. Sure, the Volkswagen GTI is blissfully dull and cordially mundane when you’re driving your mother-in-law’s aunt to church. But 258 lb-ft of always-on torque, a short-throw shifter and a clutch with a clear point of engagement (which may be too high for some) come together with a perfect driving position, small car tossability, sports car grip, and grand touring unflappability to create a car that you can use to scare your nephews.

mk7 golf gti plaid seatsBest of all, you can enjoy the GTI in between those two extremes. It’s not so fast that you can’t floor the throttle without breaking laws in 31 states. The turbo 2.0-litre’s growl is pleasant, but not attention-grabbing. 25 mpg (observed) in mostly city driving is more than tolerable for a car driven enthusiastically on more than three or seven occasions. The GTI is flexible enough to be left in third gear all day long. And there’s feedback from the chassis at six-tenths, so you don’t need to rent a track and drive flat-out in order to feel like you and the car belong together.

The GTI, perhaps now more than ever, overcomes class distinctions. This Mk7 GTI’s performance goes beyond what its specifications suggest. Both in terms of style and texture, the interior possesses the aura of a car priced in excess of $40,000. As befits its mission, the latest GTI caters to all the priorities of its targeted buyer, and it does so without compromising on one front or another. It is a performance car, and it is a small family car, and it is not less of a performance car because it’s a small family car, nor is it less of a small family car because it’s a performance car.

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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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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Volkswagen Chattanooga

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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Volkswagen TDI

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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