In an effort to keep its U.S. customer base satisfied — and to potentially boost sales — Volkswagen is planning on delivering the goods to the market at a faster clip than current.
What a long, strange trip it’s been! By the year 1999, the VW GTI had been a flop with the critics for fifteen of its seventeen years in the market. Yet the car still had credibility with the people who actually bought it, and it was still considered to be a desirable, premium vehicle. More importantly than that, the hardcore fans had noted the release of the G.O.A.T. and expected that the Mk4 Golf would feature the same helping of Piech magic.
It did—sort of.
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All the stereotyping of Germans as uncompromising people dedicated to engineering ideals and whatnot aside, it’s slightly terrifying to see how willing the automakers of the Fatherland have been to adjust their product and presentation to fit customer misconceptions. Example Zero: The “E” at the end of Mercedes model designators like “280E” meant Einspritz. Fuel injection. This was meant to distinguish Benzos with injection from the sad-sack 230 and 250 models, which despite costing as much as a house in a decent neighborhood failed to ingest their fuel under any pressure beyond that of gravity.
This makes perfect sense, but to Americans who never saw the carbed models in showrooms, “E” came to mean mid-size. Like 300E, 500E. The proper response to this blithe country-club idiocy would have been to complete the Amerika Bomber and to use it to saturate America’s upper middle class with leaflets and/or cluster munitions, whatever worked better to drive the correct usage home. Instead, however, the men of Mercedes-Benz simply decided to create the “E-Class”, which is why the automobile that should be known as a 460E TURBO is currently mis-badged “E550″. What a disgrace.
Example One: the worst GTI in history.
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(Sorry for the stock photo — had some camera issues during this trip — jb)
Moby Dick. Beethoven’s Ninth. Led Zep’s debut album. As much as we’d like to think that greatness is immediately recognized when it appears, the truth is that most of the time it’s widely pilloried. Such was the case with the second-generation Golf, which was widely considered to be absolute junk for most of its production run yet is now considered by many to be the apex of Volkswagen’s water-cooled production.
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Autoblog reports Volkswagen Group of America executive vice president of group communications Tony Cervone is returning to the GM fold as the automaker’s senior vice president of global communications. According to CEO Mary Barra, Cervone “brings an ideal mix of outside perspective and experience that compliments a deep background in GM and today’s global auto industry.” Prior to his return, he also served as the vice president of communications for United Airlines and Chrysler Group, where he spent 14 years before his decade-long previous service to GM. Cervone succeeds Selim Bingol — who resigned from the company in April “to pursue other interests,” and will report directly to Barra.
Though Volkswagen had plans to move 800,000 units annually out of U.S. showrooms by 2018, the automaker may now opt to dial back its ambitious plan in light of slow growth and falling sales.
In a couple of days I’ll have a review of the US-market seventh-generation GTI. Spoilers for that review can be easily obtained by checking out my drive of the Euro GTI from last fall. I’ll also have two articles on the new “TSI” 1.8-liter base Golf and the next-generation TDI, all from the same drive event.
VW’s eager to emphasize the history of the Golf in America, and part of their plan to do so involved having examples of all six previous GTIs available to drive for short loops. Naturally, I started at the beginning.
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Though no word yet has come down from Volkswagen on where the confirmed seven-passenger SUV for the U.S. market will be assembled, U.S. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee says that decision would come “in the very near future.”
Volkswagen enthusiasts could soon have a 10-speed transmission to go with their 10-speed bicycles, as the automaker released more details on its 10-speed DSG unit currently in the works during this year’s Vienna Motor Symposium.